July 13 2011 12:00 AM

MSU student launches a new theater company, with help from a website


Michigan State University senior Dennis Corsi is doing
more than dreaming about his goals: He raised the funds to start his own
theater company.

Touch Your Soul Productions, founded in May, has a clear
purpose. “I want to use theater to affect people and to make a
difference,” Corsi said.

The first project Corsi is tackling is a musical called “Bare: A Pop Opera.” 

“I heard the musical for the first time about three years
ago on a CD, and I fell in love with it right away,” he said. “I said to
myself, ‘One day I want to direct that.’ This musical is what
encouraged me and made me want to start my own production company, and
lot of things I believe in and my philosophy are contained in the show.”

“Bare” focuses on the stories and struggles of a group of
students in their senior year at a Catholic high school, and their
journeys through self-exploration and discovery. It also addresses
homosexuality and the conflicts and social stigmas surrounding it, such
as bullying, family issues and acceptance.

Although Corsi had a well-defined direction and mindset
for his group, there was still one obstacle he was struggling to
overcome: funding. He explained that since Touch Your Soul Productions
is still a fledgling organization, it does not have an established set
of resources and money it can draw from to begin the first project.

“Our biggest challenge has been raising money, and before
we can start a show we need to pay for the rights and royalties. About
$1,300 is needed just to get the scripts for first show,” he noted.

To remedy this problem, Corsi posted his
company on Kickstarter.com, a website that helps raise funds for
creative projects. The site supports a database of profiles, videos and
information about numerous projects that are in need of money, as well
as their financial goals and the current amounts the backers have

Now, Corsi’s Kickstarter page has a positive message: “This project will be funded on Sunday, July 10, 11:59 a.m. EDT.”

Last week, with the deadline for fundraising approaching,
Corsi explained Touch Your Soul “kicked it into high gear” to find the
rest of the $2,300 target.

“We had a wide range of people who supported us,” Corsi
said. “The ones we were most proud of, we had the original director of
‘Bare’ and one of the original cast members contributing. And,
obviously, we had some friends and family. There was also Spiral Dance
Club and a donation from an organization on campus called the
Transforming Theatre Ensemble.”

Corsi’s involvement with theater and acting goes back to
elementary school. He’s studying theater and media arts and technology
at MSU. However, simply participating in the creative process of theater
was not enough for him; he decided that he wanted to take a more
hands-on approach to the industry.

“I wanted more influence and power over what shows I would
work on, and by creating my own thing, I could do the shows I wanted,”
he explained.

With Touch Your Soul Productions, Corsi
plans to focus on shows and productions that deal with social issues,
such as discrimination, self-discovery, gender and sexual identities.

“Although theater is, in a lot of ways,
for entertainment, I also think it has a really great power to affect
the way people think and see the world.”

“I hope to open up people’s minds, and change attitudes and behaviors.”

Casting for “Bare” has been completed and vocal rehearsals will begin in a few weeks.

“Before they were just ideas in my head, but with casting,
I get to see my ideas visualized with actual people singing the roles,”
Corsi said. “It’s a big moment for me because it means that it is

The musical is tentatively scheduled for early October,
and performances will be held in the Residential College in the Arts and
Humanities theater on the MSU campus. Corsi plans to make the show free
for students, if he can collect enough funds through other sources.

“We want to also include other events surrounding the show
that provide further discussion and learning about some of the topics
‘Bare’ focuses on,” he added, although no specific activities are
planned at this time.

More information about Corsi, “Bare” and Touch Your Soul Productions can be found at touchyoursoulproductions.com