The economic crisis is not only the challenge but also the theme of EpicMegaPro's new cult-hit rock opera, Junk. The project, underway since the gold-record Swedish band Brainpool composed the work in 2001, sets a tragic love-story in an atmosphere of corporate greed, environmental decay, and rampant consumerism.
"We didn't know how relevant the show would be now," says Cristoffer Lundquist, one Brainpool's two composers, "seeing the economic events since the Los Angeles workshop, it's eerie how right we were."
Junk itself has gone through several financial challenges in its eight year history. After a promising start in Sweden during which a televised concert delayed the nightly news, work on the show was shelved due to artistic differences between the band and potential producers.
Hoping to partner with a more value-aligned production company the band entrusted their work to Shakina Nayfack, an emerging theatre director and performance artists who, along with friend and business partner Joseph Yoshitomi, launched a company founded on Brechtian ideals.
Junk was their first work. The initial performances received positive reviews from the alternative Los Angeles publication, LA Weekly,and Junk won the "Roar-of-the-Crowd" on the ticketing site, Goldstar.com. After a sell-out initial reading andextended workshop production, EpicMegaPro began seeking financing for a New York City reading, but the economy slowed progress."
There are pros and cons to producing in this beleaguered business environment," argues Joseph Yoshitomi, Junk's producer, "Money is difficult to come by, investors are wary of large-scale risk, but we've found smaller, more grassroots investment and donations have remained steady." At-home fundraisers, family donations, and partnerships with community foundations eventually led to the announcement of a Broadway backers audition several months ago.
The reading's director, Shakina Nayfack, argues that the work has both "boom and bust" relevance... "Junk has the music and energy of an all-out Broadway spectacle, but its raw and industrial edge allows for a more bare bones presentation. Like Rent did in the 90s, Junk's story and design reflect the changing attitudes and values of our times. It's lighthearted and sincere, satirical without being cynical, and most of all, it rocks!"
Tickets to the New York reading are by invitation only.