26th annual Telluride Academy’s Mudd Butt Mystery Theater Troupe August  10 and 11

The Telluride Academy‘s Mudd Butt Mystery Theater Troupe is a four-week theater intensive covering all aspects of what it takes to make a play happen. Through the Mudd Butts, kids aged 10 – 13 get to explore theater games, script and songwriting, improvisation, dance, voice, even marketing. But that’s only what’s described in the Academy’s brochure.

Read between the lines and it becomes clear the young people fortunate enough to participate in the Mudd Butts wind up acquiring invaluable and indelible life tools. Kids meet their inner artist while developing confidence and discovering ways to laugh at themselves and navigate the mine field of group dynamics. What the directors are after is broadening kids’ horizons about social, political and environmental issues. Through the Mudd Butt experience, kids travel from a local address on to the world stage. (Literally at times: There is a Mudd Butt International program.)

The heart and soul of the Mudd Butts, its guiding angels, are Sally Davis, a musician, theater director, performer and arts educator and Kim Epifano, an award-winning choreographer, director, performer, vocalists, educator. Sally and Kim have partners in crime, among them prop master/sculptor Mike Stasiuk and co-writer Pamela Zoline. Collectively they are nothing if not thought-provoking.

Joining the team this year are Clay Frohman, helping with the script and music; Ashley Boling, helping with theater workshops and tech; Jeb Berrier, helping with theater workshops; Daisy Barth, Mudd Butt alum and prop assistant for two years under Mike is admin angel, theater workshops, and costumes; Emma Anderson, Mudd Butt alum, is helping with production and costumes; Charlotte Delpit, another alum, is helping with marketing and costumes.

The 26th annual Mudd Butt Mystery Theater Troupe production is the story of “Fatima the Spinner.” The shows take place Friday, August 10, 6 p.m. and Saturday, August 11,  2 p.m. and 6 p.m. (The final show is followed by a very popular prop auction.)

“Fatima the Spinner” is a Sufi story written by Idries Shaw. It is a tale about being brave and resourceful, even in the face of hardship and about using the skills and lessons that one gathers along life’s journey to help others. It is also a story that focuses on a girl who discovers her own strengths and talents and manages to survive in a male-dominated world.

The idea of staging “Fatima the Spinner” has apparently been floating around in Sally and Kim’s story bowl for many years. In fact, it was first explored at the Nugget Theater 23 years ago, when Sally, Pamela and John Fago collaborated on a middle school production of ‘Fatima,” using big flat puppets and actors to follow a very simple story line.

“When it was decided that the Mudd Butts were going back to Turkey in April of 2012, we decided to revisit the ‘Fatima’ story,” explained Sally and Kim.

The Turkey trip and associated production was a great success.

“Turkey was wonderful. We traveled to Istanbul and then to Uchisar, Cappadocia where we performed ‘Fatima the Spinner’ in two languages at the Altinyeldez School. The show was a big hit and the whole journey was very rich and rewarding for all involved. Mudd Butt International Theater trips, led by Academy founder Wendy Brooks, continue to be life-changing experiences for all of us.”

For our 2012 Telluride production, the idea was to go into greater depth with Fatima’s story.

“We added more suspense, more characters, and developed the plot. We have a really wonderful troupe this year: 10 new actors and a bunch of seasoned Mudd Butts. They are as always, helping to create the show: writing songs, improvising, playing instruments and dancing. Mike Stasiuk will add his huge visual magic to the pot and the end result should be something remarkable,” concluded Sally and Kim.

Simon Perkovich has been a Mudd Butt for two years and he has performed in a number of local productions with the Telluride Rep, now Telluride Theatre. Simon’s great grandparents were circus performers. His mother, Deb Gesmundo, is Mudd Butt’s stage manager. When he grows up, Simon wants to be a professional actor.

Ava Minarovic is also a second-year Mudd Butt, and she will be play the youngest Fatima.

“Ava is a joy to work with. Always positive…a great dancer, singer, actor,” said Sally and Kim.

Click the “play” button to hear what Simon and Ava have to say about this year’s Mudd Butt production of ‘Fatima the Spinner.”

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