Arts July 31, 2008

In the Company of Fools

Hailey will be a Fools’ paradise this summer.

From July 3 thru August 5, Company of Fools will offer a brand new summer repertory experience, the Summer Fools Festival at Hailey’s Liberty Theatre.

The company is transforming its traditional three-week run of one play into a rotating repertory of three distinctly different works spanning five weeks. These works will include: A Body of Water, by Lee Blessing, The Spitfire Grill, by James Valcq and Fred Alley and Shirley Valentine, by Willy Russell.

Core Company artists Denise Simone and John Glenn say the new schedule will allow artists to explore their range, and audiences to truly appreciate the range of talent they have assimilated in their little town.

“We choose stories of the human heart,” Glenn says. “If they stir us and resonate with us, then they are stories we want to tell.”

Simone anticipates the theatre nights will encompass hotel stays, dinner out, strolls through the Farmer’s Market and downtown shops and will give Hailey a boost economically.

Innovation has been the signature for Company of Fools productions over the years. When scene setting for The Tempest required water, 5,000 gallons were poured into the stage.

The Company is extremely active in Blaine County’s schools and has offered student matinees to over 14,500 children since 1999. The annual Fools Exposed is an opportunity for drama-hungry residents to explore a hands-on theatre experience through workshops, lectures, play readings and performances.

There is a misconception that Company of Fools is an extension of actor Bruce Willis and therefore funded by him. Although Willis has appeared in two Company of Fools’ productions and is a supporter, he has always contended that in order for the company to survive it would need to be embraced by the community.

That “was the best business decision the company could have ever made and has been the guiding principle for the past 11 years,” Glenn says.

The company is thriving and, led by a great board of directors and inspired by the community’s reaction, continually morphing to be a part of the art scene.

“We do not perform museum pieces where the audience is removed,” Simone says of their uncharacteristic theatre style. “We live in a world that seems to ask us to detach and not feel. Theatre connects us. Through our stories, you can say to yourself, I’m not alone, and it keeps us connected to the universal story.”

This article appears in the Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.