Since playwright Dano Madden left the wilds of Idaho 14 years ago for the even wilder streets of New York City, he has been on an interesting trajectory.
He earned a master’s degree at Rutgers University in New Jersey, working with eminent playwright Lee Blessing — a connection he made at the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall. He received several productions of his plays in New York and in Boise, and last year he was a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, a prestigious artists retreat in New Hampshire.
Now he’s part of a team throwing its hat into the new arena with a web series, “Precious Cargo.” It’s a comedy about two sisters who fund their NYC ambitions by tutoring the next generation of 1 Percenters and dealing with a slew of affluently dysfunctional families, nannies, child psychologists and others. Of course, the sisters have their own quirky dynamic, which adds fuel to the comedy.
The idea started close to home for Madden. His wife, actress Lauren Singerman, actually tutors kids in New York’s tonier areas. She created the show along with fellow tutor Sasha Kaye-Walsh. Both women star in the show.
“This is a total grass-roots project,” says the award-winning playwright, who crafted the scripts for the first seven episodes. The show will debut on PreciousCargoWebseries.com on June 13. “We’re just having a blast, and we’re working with this incredible group of kids that will just blow you away.”
The company filmed last summer with a professional crew, doing as much themselves as possible, and now are in post-production thanks to two IndieGoGo.com campaigns that raised nearly $15,000.
Web series are like a talent showcase. Episodes are short, but if they’re enough to captivate and hold an audience, they can lead to a production contract with one of the online outlets, such as Amazon or Netflix. NetTVNow.com recently picked up the “Precious Cargo” trailer.
And who knows?
The web series “High Maintenance” first got picked up by Vimeo and now will move to HBO in the fall.
“It would be amazing to get picked up like that, but in reality we do this for the same reason I write plays,” Madden says. “It’s for the love of the work.”
Surel’s Place auction
You can get involved with and support one of the most creative spots in the Treasure Valley at the Surel’s Place Auction Fundraiser.
Surel’s Place lies in the heart of Garden City’s Live-Work-Create District. It’s an artist residency that brings visual and performing artists and writers for multiweek stays in Idaho. The artists live and work in the former home of artist Surel Mitchell, who died in 2011. Mitchell’s daughter, writer Rebecca Mitchell Kelada, transformed her mom’s studio/home into the residency in 2012.
This auction happens every two years. On the alternating years, the group produces a Shrinky-Dinks auction.
This is a hot ticket for art lovers. You’ll find donated work by some of Idaho’s most noted artists, including painters Charles Gill, William Lewis and Rachel Teannalach, sculptorLynn Fraley and multimedia artist Cheryl Shurtleff, who died in 2015 after a long struggle with breast cancer. You’ll also find pieces by the host of artists who created in the space, including Georgia-based textile artist Abigail Kokai and Missouri artist David Titterington.
You’ll enjoy food from a’Tavola Gourmet Marketplace, music by jazz singer Ellie Shaw and pianist Sean Dahlman — and a surprise celebrity guest.
6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 11, Visual Arts Collective, 3638 Osage St., Garden City. $45 at the door. SurelsPlace.org/auction.
Beer and Haiku
Check out the Death Rattle Writers Fest Haiku Night at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 10, at Nampa’s Pre Funk Beer Bar, 1214 1st St. S., in Nampa.
Part of the bar proceeds ($1 per beer) will benefit the literary group that produces its festival in October, taking over several venues with readings and other events.
So bring your creativity and improvise a few haiku. In case you’ve forgotten, haiku are three-line poems with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the middle line and five more at the end.