Dare to Dream: Rachel Wayne Tackles Social Issues Through Entertainment

Rachel Wayne has lived in Gainesville since 2010, after earning her BA in Anthropology and BFA in Theatre Arts from Valdosta State University. After being heavily involved with the local Acrosstown Repertory Theatre as a playwright, production manager, director, and board member, she turned towards developing her own nonprofit theatre company while working as Assistant Costume Designer and Wardrobe Supervisor at the renowned Hippodrome Theatre. In 2014, she got her Masters in Anthropology and Film Studies from the University of Florida after studying the sociocultural aspects of childhood bullying. This project led her to be the creative director of the semi-annual Red Soul Days anti-violence arts festival. She currently works for UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a science writer and communications specialist, while managing her production company DreamQuilt LLC and its nonprofit project CerridwenWorks. She is also the managing director of DolphinWizard Puppetry and Toys and the co-founder of the Breakaway Burlesque performance art

Rachel Wayne has lived in Gainesville since 2010, after earning her BA in Anthropology and BFA in Theatre Arts from Valdosta State University. After being heavily involved with the local Acrosstown Repertory Theatre as a playwright, production manager, director, and board member, she turned towards developing her own nonprofit theatre company while working as Assistant Costume Designer and Wardrobe Supervisor at the renowned Hippodrome Theatre. In 2014, she got her Masters in Anthropology and Film Studies from the University of Florida after studying the sociocultural aspects of childhood bullying. This project led her to be the creative director of the semi-annual Red Soul Days anti-violence arts festival. She currently works for UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a science writer and communications specialist, while managing her production company DreamQuilt LLC and its nonprofit project CerridwenWorks. She is also the managing director of DolphinWizard Puppetry and Toys and the co-founder of the Breakaway Burlesque Troupe.

Rachel Wayne is a science writer for the University of Florida’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences by day and a producer of thought-driven entertainment. She started DreamQuilt, LLC, a mixed-styles arts and entertainment production company, to bring people and resources together for creative projects.

So, what’s special about her company?

“The difference is, we focus on the local cultural economy,” Wayne said. “We emphasize unusual, provocative, or even revival forms of entertainment, and we have a nonprofit arm aimed at using the arts for good.”

We had a chance to interview this boss lady to see how she juggles life as an entertainment and producer. AND– she’s on the lookout for new talent. So if you’ve got a love for theater, read on to see how you can get involved!

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your business? 

A: DreamQuilt LLC is an alternative, mixed-styles arts and entertainment production company. Like any production company, we get people and resources together for creative projects. The difference is, we focus on the local cultural economy, we emphasize unusual, provocative, or even revival forms of entertainment, and we have a nonprofit arm aimed at using the arts for good.

That nonprofit arm is CerridwenWorks, which is an agency that links artists to educators.

In a nutshell, we do:

  • Interactive art shows where patrons and artists can meet or create artwork together
  • Variety/vaudeville shows that use their historical tropes and styles challenge social assumptions
  • Highlight current social problems

I think the biggest and most successful is Red Soul Days, which involves any type of visual and performing arts event, as well as film screenings, that we can connect to the themes (recovery from and awareness about violence) and use to create dialogue.

Burlesque is a great example of this because popular characters are parodied and societal tropes challenged, and by its very nature audience members are challenged to think about gender and sexuality in a way that supports the demystification of gendered violence.

 

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself, what do you like to do in your free time?

A: I have studied anthropology since my undergraduate education, and it’s become a driving force in my life. It is much more than digging up pots or bones; it provides an explanation for all aspects of human behavior and creativity!

I’ve been a creative since I could talk (i.e. sing) or hold a pencil. I started training in the performing arts when I was seven and have never looked back. I have a bachelor’s degree in theater arts with an emphasis in production from Valdosta State University. I have also worked at the Hippodrome State Theater costume department for three seasons. So in my spare time (ha!), I keep up with these passions: dancing, singing, making costumes, writing plays, producing shows, and my newfound love of aerial dance.

Q:What are your short and long -term goals with these businesses?

A: Short-term, we’ve gotten some recognition and honors, but I’d like us to be a well-known name and get some sponsors! I’d like us to do a show per month next season. Long-term, I want us to have a broader reach than north central Florida, and basically have this be my full-time job.

Q: What is one of your favorite mantras to live by? 

A: Carpe diem is a basic one, but more theater-wise, Life in a box is better than no life at all.

And for girl power stuff, I always try to live like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, LOL. That if I can put my mind to it, I’ll achieve what I want, even with naysayers blocking me.

Motivation-wise, I really just want the world to be a beautiful and kind place and I think anthropology and the arts can empower any and everyone to live in that world. In the face of all we’ve been going through recently, I think it’s now more important than ever.

Q: In your own words, what do you think a “Renaissance Woman” is?

A:I think a Renaissance Woman means a couple of things: someone who has a lot of different skills and talents, that complement each other even if it seems they wouldn’t; and, someone who’s conscious of the shape of the world and what their activities mean in it.

Q: Has being a woman in your field ever proven to be difficult or challenging?

Definitely. Theater production is very male-dominated, and women really are pigeonholed into costuming and makeup. I do love doing these things, but I started out wanting to do sound and prop building. Men still hold most of the primary roles in most plays, serve on the theater board, direct the shows, and so on. Forget about the film industry. And anthropology, like any science, is male-dominated. Anthropology has become more open to non-white male perspectives, but we still have that colonial history weighing the discipline down. Ultimately, this dominance means that true teamwork can be hard to achieve, because the male voices are numerous and loud.

Q: Who is your favorite woman role model and why?

A:Is it too clichéd to say my mom?

She seriously raised two kids, while working long hours for demanding people (she did PR and marketing, and for awhile freelanced as a wedding photographer) and had her own businesses (an arts newsletter and mail-order rare books business). She stayed close with her family even though they were spread out across the country. She taught me grace, humility, and compassion, along with a lot of life lessons that I can’t even list right now. If we‘re talking celebrities…first I think of is Emma Watson. Such a graceful powerhouse despite having lived her life in the spotlight since a young age

Q: Are there any opportunities for any other Renaissance women to get involved in your business?

A: Absolutely! I didn’t quite mean for this to happen, but most of our shows and projects are women-led. We’ve got singers, dancers, painters, sculptors. We’ve got graphic designers, marketing pros, writers, and speakers. Live entertainment is a great way for all these people to come together. It’s probably the most diverse workplace, because you have everyone from the carpenters and electricians to the teachers and speakers. If you would like to be involved, shoot me an email at outreach@cerridwenworks.org