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Friday, July 8 — Almost everyone haslooked up to the stars and seen that distant, glittering pie in the sky. However, Michigan State Universitysenior Dennis Corsi is doing more than dreaming about his goals — he started his own company.
TouchYour Soul Productions, founded in May, has a clear purpose. “I want to use theater to affect peopleand to make a difference,” Corsi said.
The first projectCorsi is tackling is a musical called “Bare,” which is near and dear to hisheart. “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 Iwant to direct that.’ This musical is what encouraged me and made me want tostart my own production company, and lot of things I believe in and myphilosophy are contained in the show.”
“Bare” focuses on thestories and struggles of a group of students in their senior year at a Catholichigh school, and their journeys through self-exploration and discovery. It alsoaddresses homosexuality and the conflicts and social stigmas surrounding it,such as bullying, family issues and acceptance.
Although Corsi had awell-defined direction and mindset for his group, there was still one obstaclehe was struggling to overcome: funding. Heexplained that since Touch Your Soul Productions is still a fledglingorganization, it does not have an established set of resources and money it candraw from to begin the first project.
“Our biggest challenge has been raisingmoney, and before we can start a show we need to pay for the rights androyalties. About $1,300 is needed just to get the scripts for first show,” henoted.
Inan effort to remedy this problem, Corsi posted his company on Kickstarter.com,a website that helps raise funds for creative projects. The site supports adatabase of profiles, videos and information about numerous projects that arein need of money, as well as their financial goals and the current amounts thebackers have raised.
Now,Corsi’s Kickstarter page has a positive message: “This project will be fundedon Sunday, July 10, 11:59 a.m. EDT.”
Inthe last week, Corsi explained Touch Your Soul “kicked it into high gear” tofind the rest of the $2,300 target. “We had a wide range of people whosupported us,” Corsi said. “The ones we were most proud of, we had the originaldirector of ‘Bare’ and one of the original cast members contributing. And,obviously, we had some friends and family. There was also Spiral Dance Club anda donation from an organization on campus called the Transforming TheatreEnsemble.”
Corsi’s involvementwith theater and acting extends back to his days in elementary school. He’sstudying theater and media arts and technology at MSU while pursuing a career inthe world of stagecraft. However, simply participating in the creative processof theater was not enough for him; hedecided that he wanted to take a more hands-on and involved approach to theindustry.
“I wanted moreinfluence and power over what shows I would work on, and by creating my ownthing, I could do the shows I wanted,” he explained.
With Touch Your SoulProductions, Corsi plans to focus on shows and productions that deal with heavysocial issues, such as discrimination, self-discovery, gender and sexualidentities. “Although theater is, in a lot of ways, for entertainment, I alsothink it has a really great power to affect the way people think and see theworld, and based on how I choose to direct the shows, I hope to open uppeople’s minds and change attitudes and behaviors.”
Castingfor “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 singingthe roles,” Corsi said. “It’s a big moment for me because it means that it isreal.”
The tentative datesfor the production are Oct. 6-9, and it will be held in the RCAH theater on theMSU campus. Corsi plans to make the show free for students, if he can collectenough funds through other sources.
“We want to alsoinclude other events surrounding the show that provide further discussion andlearning about some of the topics ‘Bare’ focuses on,” he added, although nospecific activities are planned at this time.Moreinformation about Corsi, “Bare” and Touch Your Soul Productions can be foundonline at touchyoursoulproductions.com