I grew up in Northern California, and while some of my friends grew up on streets with boring names like Little Falls Drive or Quail Creek Circle, names that inspired next to no emotion in me, I grew up on a steep hill on a street called Echo Ridge Drive. The word itself, “echo”, has always sparked my imagination. As I stood in my front yard staring into the green oak filled hills of San Jose, I couldn’t help but feel as though the echoes of the past were sounding for me, that I was connected to everyone who had come before, and in my imagination, I could hear them speaking to me, inspiring me.
Of course that sounds like a bunch of pretentious writer-ly rubbish, but it is for the most part true. The street I grew up on, the idea of those echoes has been a huge influence on me, and has been a part of everything I’ve ever done.
We began working on our production of The Woman in Black in late December. We thought we knew where we were going to perform it. As things often do, things fell through. At the end of January we went on a search for a new venue, but one didn’t exist.
Just a month ago I hadn’t intended to create a theatre space. Somewhere in the back of my mind it has always been the plan, but I did not intend to find a broken-down building and construct a theatre only a week after I got home from my honeymoon. Luckily I have been blessed with friends and family as obsessive as myself. In fact I knew I had met the right girl when my wife-to-be told me it had always been a dream of hers to create a place like The Echo. I would not however suggest getting married and then immediately starting a theatre. An adjustment period is nice.
The building where The Echo is used to be a print shop, then a music club, then a skate shop, then a death metal venue, then a graffiti covered tomb, then sat empty for 7 months. Things were grim when we first walked the building. It had a dark feeling. I swore I saw the title character of our opening play, The Woman In Black, out of the corner of my eye more than a few times. It was bleak yet inspiring at the same time–because we knew what it could be.
My brother in law Matt Boulter knew it too. He was ecstatic when I introduced him to the building. He’s one of those “obsessives” that I talked about. Someone who starts a job and follows through with it, till it’s done. He’s the kind of person who rallies dozens of people to create a 90 minute movie about a demonic chicken, and then shows it at a local theatre to hundreds of folks from the community, just to show that he could. He’s the kind of brain that appeals to me. Someone who finds it impossible not to solve every task that is put in front of him. He’s been in charge of all the construction that has transformed The Echo into what it is today. He’s an excellent partner in crime.
As I mentioned earlier, The Woman in Black is an appropriate production for our theatre and an awesome opportunity for our production company Lost Lake Creative. I have been primarily a film guy for the last 7 years, creating commercials, web series and shorts with Lost Lake. This is our first stage play and it is an amazingly rewarding experience, if just a tad overly ambitious. Now that we have a venue, we look forward to many more exciting Lost Lake Productions.
Lost Lake is not the only production company that will be putting on performances here though. That would be insane. It is our sincere desire to offer the theatre as a performing space for others in the community to come, produce, and perform plays of their own, whether classics of drama, comedy, or new locally written projects. The Utah Shakespeare in the Park company will be in The Echo next, performing Hedda Gabler, a play by Henrik Ibsen which features one of the great dramatic roles in theatre. The title character is viewed by many to be the “female Hamlet.”
But first, we hope that the people who see our version of The Woman in Black are immersed in the production. We hope that they feel the echoes of the past speaking to them, and we hope that what we accomplish here, will echo into the community, so that all those other obsessives out there will want to use this theatre to create echoes of their own.
– Jeff Blake, Producer