Written by Abstract Samm
Jabbering with Jayme, a conversation about Savannah Stage Co
Over the last eight years, our sibling company, Royal Bike Taxi has maintained a tight relationship with local theater organization Savannah Stage Co, a group of individuals who work closely with one another and the community in a way that is much more than a performance or three. Proudly “Encouraging Growth through Imagination and Bravery” by way of theater production, Savannah Stage Co is a force to be reckoned with in the creative and local business scene. This force is known for being so strong and consistent due to the community influence surrounding these creative minds. With such a story to be told, we couldn’t resist asking for an interview about it all. We here at Savannah Sip and Cycle were lucky enough to be allowed a conversation with founding member Jayme Tinti about the company’s origins, current projects and a shared love for Alice In Wonderland.
From the very beginning until now with no intention to ease up anytime soon or ever, Savannah Stage Co has not stopped pushing all creative boundaries of every participant involved. Of all that they do, the drive to constantly push each member to comfortably accomplish more is what makes them truly unique in this field. Even with 2020 being the year it was, new challenges only strengthened the bond between the people that make up Savannah Stage Co. Team work makes the dream work in any task they take on, not just within the company itself but in a general sense. As mentioned before, there is more to these jesters than putting on a show. With a hand in many charitable activities, Savannah Stage Co goes out of their way to assist those who need it. Giving back is important to this company and the individuals within. Savannah is the type of city that has a knack for taking care of those who work hard and Jayme spoke in detail of how this group would not be where they are now without continued assistance from the local community.
Early Years at Savannah Stage Co:
Back in 2011, Savannah Stage Co’s five founding members didn’t even reside in Savannah yet. Brought together by positions held at Barter Theatre in Virginia, Wesley Pridgen, Jayme Tinti, Bryan Pridgen, Ethan Parrill, and Liz Whittemore made the decision to come to Savannah, Georgia in 2012 to pursue a specific common goal. According to Jayme, they “Didn’t have jobs, didn’t go to SCAD, we had no friends, it was just the five of us” but none of that seemed like anything to devote much thought to. Jobs and friendships were not their first priority in the early days of Savannah Stage Co but ended up playing a major role in the company’s success. They all set out to make the company happen and clearly, none of those barriers kept them from growing as a creative business. Original member Wes began working as a driver for Royal Bike Taxi and that’s where this wonderful merge was initiated. In no time at all, Wes and the other members developed a relationships with the company that just seemed to work for everyone invested. Royal Bike Taxi and Savannah Sip N’ Cycle have remained close to Savannah Stage Co all these years later and look forward to continuing with work alongside them.
With every year since their initial founding, Savannah Stage Co has gained a variety of members who all bring their own flair to the table. No talent goes unused with a group of creators this talented and cooperative with each other. Music composition and set building are just two tasks taken on by the performers, on top of being incredible entertainers and everything that entertaining entails. What happens behind the scenes for this group is truly inspiring and cannot be described by one statement. Here at Savannah Sip N’ Cycle and Royal Bike Taxi, we have been allowed the immense privilege of participating in building sets, even using a bike wheel for a Tuck Everlasting stage back in 2018. With an absolute passion for what they love to do and a need (not want, need) to share that hype with the local community, Georgia and anyone else who wants to participate, Savannah Stage Co does more than perform lines from a script. These imaginative, gifted, hard working entertainers give all of themselves to each and every project thrown their way.
Facing New Challenges as a Savannah Stage Co.:
No one was entirely prepared for what 2020 would look like once April started and the case was no different for this team. With a tour ahead and plenty of tasks to consider, Savannah Stage Co was more than prepared to continue performing, but made the ethical decision to participate in the shut down along with other businesses. After eight years of hard work, Jayme mentioned that the company has become secure enough to allow that type of privilege. Though we were dealing with something much bigger than a slowed down social life, the experience of losing that constant interaction remained heavy still. What was usually a group of coworkers and friends that spent countless hours alongside one another had become an almost entirely isolated situation. Something needed to be done.
Rising from the ashes of isolation like a much needed phoenix was an idea by Lexi Ambrose for an adaptation that just could not be ignored, Alice in Wonderland. With everything going on at the time, hosting a new performance would be more challenging than usual but no true theater lover turns down the opportunity to perform Alice in Wonderland if they can. This seemed like just what everybody needed, entertainers and audience members alike, so Savannah Stage Co started working out the details of how to make this happen, while keeping all involved safe.
A member of Savannah Stage Co since 2013, Lexi Ambrose has added years of talent to countless projects, but never an adaptation. Like their tagline states, Savannah Stage Co creates an environment that is legitimately “Encouraging Growth through Imagination and Bravery” by inspiring members to push the limits of what they can do. “We don’t play to strengths, we create them” is how Jayme put it to us and we absolutely believe her. Even the music composed for this performance was done by another member, who had not gone into the task with much background experience. Once a member of Savannah Stage Co decides to be good at anything, they just do it with seemingly no hesitation or fear and each aspect of their Alice shows just that. Production of this story’s telling would definitely prove to be more complicated than ever before, but with the weight of the world distributed throughout so many hands, Savannah Stage Company got to work in the only way they know how, as a team.
Zoom meetings replaced a normal table reading and it was like having to learn an entirely new language, while learning an entirely new script, all from entirely different locations. Four revisions of the script were made over the span of four virtual weeks, which actually worked in favor for their director, who is based out of New York and usually makes the trip to Savannah. Even the process of script writing was a group effort, with Lexi accepting criticism and guidance from all involved. Nothing that happens throughout the planning process has to be done alone at Savannah Stage Co. Certainly, a sense of “family” radiates from the members, on stage and off.
Just two weeks worth of physical practice were able to happen, and those two weeks came with tons of new rules and regulations to keep all performers and crew members safe. Everyone had to take the covid pledge, get tested regularly, sanitize and a whole wicked list of precautions, but no one complained. No matter what it takes, these entertainers have never hesitated to step up, and this was just another challenge. Working together in the way only Savannah Stage Co can, Alice In Wonderland was filmed at Savannah Theatre in November and will be airing on Facebook live at 7pm EST on January 30th.
Don’t hesitate to mark your calenders for this one-time screening of Savannah Stage Co’s adaptation of Alice In Wonderland. In the world we live in where everything is up for purchase and able to be replayed in an instant, Savannah Stage Co wants to call back to the days that we would gather together for special shows that wouldn’t always be available. There’s something to be said about sharing that sort of experience with the performers and other audience members.
Live streaming a movie was not on the list of things this time last year but they made it happen, despite having more roadblocks than ever for this project. If you like and subscribe to Savannah Stage Company on Facebook, you won’t miss the notification for January 30th at 7pm EST for Alice In Wonderland.
Savannah Stage Co. Pioneering On:
Savannah Stage Co has always offered the “field trip” experience to elementary and middle schools throughout Georgia, touring and teaching students about theater according to the Georgia Standard of Excellence. Going out of their way to enrich lives through performance in theater has played a major role in what makes being a member of the company so intensely gratifying. Now, they are able to continue offering the experience in a way that is safe, socially distant and still teaches the information. For students from K-8, a virtual field trip experience is available now. Included in this field trip kid is a video copy of Alice In Wonderland, a full Q&A with the actors and a study guide, set to the standards of excellence that is age appropriate. To find out more about the field trip or how to book one for your class, you can head over to savannahstagecompany.com and click on the “education” tab. You’ll find plenty of resources for theater lovers of any age in that tab and all others on the site.
Here at Savannah Sip N’ Cycle/Royal Bike Taxi, we have so much hometown pride because being involved with any aspect of Savannah’s local business community is more than just trying to make a few bucks. We love the folks over at Savannah Stage Co because they love what they do and it shows. After all this time, they haven’t run out of steam, getting better and better with each creative project and we can’t wait to see what they will end up doing next, there’s no reason to expect anything but flawless execution regardless of content topic. Even though the near future seems somewhat unsteady, you can be sure to depend on one factor. Savannah Stage Co is going to keep growing and performing, no matter how the world turns on that day. All of us at Savannah Sip N’ Cycle/Royal Bike Taxi are hyped to see what happens now that they will be creating more virtual content and want to extend thanks to Jayme and Savannah Stage Co for being some of our greatest supporters in the city.
Don’t forget to keep checking back to the Sip N’ Cycle blog to find out more about what to do in Savannah and who’s who in the local scene and follow us on Facebook or Instagram for content straight off the #PartyBike. We are constantly updating the list of things to do, places to eat at and exciting local legends, from music to theater and back. If you’d like to learn more about how to book a tour on the #PartyBike, click the handy FAQ tab at the top of this page. Tours of downtown Historic Savannah start at just 25$ a seat. Cheers to a fun time in Savannah no matter when you come to visit, and we can’t wait to see you on the #PartyBike!