OKIE TILO: Hello Johnna. Congratulations on your second year doing another Barkin heARTS Wonderland-themed event. What differences can we expect at this event versus last year's?
JOHNNA GUZMAN: This year's show will be more edgy and structured much differently than last year's. We have experimented with new mediums and integrated some new elements into performances. I didn't hand lay the stage this year, so we've made some upgrades to the way we are going to present the talent and art. There's surprises inside and out and a whole lot more interaction with guests. There are a few visual installations that are really unique and unexpected in the space that I'm really excited about as well as some performers that are trying new things themselves that haven't been seen at other shows. We were donated, by Creative Night Clubs out of Orlando, some very innovative products that we're using this year as well as recycled billboards from Clear Channel Outdoors. These are definitely new elements that we're mixing in and they're a challenge to install. I'm really loving the jello shot bar and the custom top hats you'll be able to take pictures with. And of course the Paper mache mushrooms!
OKIE: What is it about Wonderland that fascinates you and that fascinates your guests?
JOHNNA: I wasn't ready to give it up! We wanted to give one last tribute to Alice and invite guests that missed last year to celebrate with us for a good cause. I'm fascinated by the philosophy behind Alice in Wonderland: the political connotations at the Mad Hatters tea party where all the people in charge are purposely being confusing, and the theme of finding yourself in a mixed up, backwards world that doesn't make sense. I actually read Alice in Wonderland Philosophy by William Irwin and edited by Richard Brian Davis. They discuss some very interesting topics like nuclear strategists (The Red Queen) and drugs, dreams and perceptions. never staying in the present with jam yesterday, jam tomorrow but never today... who knew that this was talking about procrastination? Alice's journey was different than any other story book princess's journey. She was more curious, bold, made mistakes and was viewed as stupid and unruly. This theme is huge for anyone who challenges the norm and tries to be different. You will face tons of opposition and trials. I think many people can still relate to this growing up experience, it's been a huge personal journey for me over the last few years and I felt still very connected to the Wonderland theme.
Expanding on that we wanted everyone to show us what their Wonderland is to them. Artists show us their Wonderland in every piece of work they do and you can really experience the people around you at an event like this. Some people forget what their Wonderland is and get caught up in everyday life. This event was created for people to come explore, have fun and not forget. The audience I think is prepared for out of the box ideas and concepts and it's an excuse to bring out the child at heart. Even if you're not obsessed with Alice in Wonderland Philosophy, you're curious about what the madness is about. My production team would take my book away, but I have it downloaded on my phone!
OKIE: How do you select the artists and performers for your event?
JOHNNA: I go to your Square One shows and recruit! (laughter) We always invite artists from other shows because we're all friends in this art community. We look for people who can be really flexible. Sometimes I go to them and say, "Can you do this crazy idea with your amazing art?" and they normally look at me like I'm crazy and then I tell them we're going to hang it upside down. Our location allows us to have some artists that can't do their art at certain venues, so we've found some new talent in being able to showcase this type of art. The artists are encouraged to think out of the square with their displays and come up with new ideas so you'll never see them again like this. Hendrickje Ewen, my partner in crime and co-producer, has years of experience with performers from her line of work. They are all really good friends and from this, the show takes on a life of it's self. Now that we've started we have people contact us and it's been tons of fun and a great experience. I don't know if we select as much as the show creates itself.
OKIE: Your event is $25 to attend. In a time of economic recession, what do you say to those who wish to attend but balk at the admission price?
JOHNNA: I don't take part in the recession. I don't believe we should stop giving or stop having fun. The foundations that we use our talents to raise money for don't get a break because of the recession. The SPCA TAMPA BAY is non-government funded and needs 2.5 million dollars a year to serve over 15,000 animals in just Tampa Bay alone. If anything during this "recession," they need more help because people aren't keeping their pets and they aren't donating. This event was created for guests to have fun for a good cause and support all the local artists. Over half your ticket price goes to the SPCA Tampa Bay and everything you drink, eat or purchase at the event supports a local rescue. We face several challenges at our venue like lighting and bar setup and product purchase that other venues already have everyday. It's something special that we have to build from the ground up and it's considerably more expensive to operate the way we would like to. I'm broke too so I know the feeling, but we have to do for what we love, for the causes that we love and I want to see everyone smile and have fun. I'll personally do whatever it takes to put into the show to save some of our furry friends. I hope that people realize their 20 dollars to get in helps us raise $1.000's for the charities and keeps us being able to do what we love for our guests.
Also, there are discount codes everywhere. Just for being one of your friends, if you type in "okie" at checkout, you'll get $8.00 off entry online. Tickets will be on sale until Friday online. At the door, you can say your name "Okie" and get $5.00 off.
OKIE: How awesome is that?! I'll spread the word on the "Okie" discount. So what can we expect from Johnna Guzman in the future?
JOHNNA: A Halloween Event! (laughing) I'm just getting my feet wet. Compared to you, I feel like a baby at this and I'm excited that we were able to create something for you to talk about. I'm experimenting with everything we do and learning. I'm moved by the people that are in the shows and the people that come to the shows. I know the team would really like to see our Halloween show happen this year. The production and theatricals that Hendrickje and I worked on will knock your socks off. So you'll definitely see some more movie-making action as we travel down that road. I loved working with the director Art Hearl and we will collaborate again with our video Editor Jim Webb. You can still watch last year's trailer on YouTube, just search "Haunted Heights Tampa." Movie editing and lighting production are really exciting to me now so we'll see what happens with that. There's also some collaborations with some other executive producers that have been discussed (wink wink), so there are exciting things in my future with some amazing people. You can guarantee that it will all be for a good cause. I'd really like to start dancing again and performing. Who knows! That's part of the excitement.
OKIE: Well thank you for sitting down with me and talking about your event. I'm sure all of your hard work and dedication will make this year's Wonderland event yet another Barkin HeARTS success. Any other last words that you would like to share?
JOHNNA: I'm really, really grateful for the people that have touched my life and gone out of their way to do these shows with us. It's time consuming. It's not easy and I'm amazed at what we've accomplished. Those people, who are mostly volunteers, believe in the event and the cause and love their work. Nothing would happen without them. The sponsors of this event Puff-n-Stuff, Miller Lite, Visual Delights, The New Barker, Clear Channel Outdoors, The Roosevelt 2.0, Bella Dog Magazine, Bay Stage Lighting, King James & the Sundrummers, Impulse Pole Dance, Enigma Dance Kru, Hula Monsters... I mean this list just goes on and on. Just look at our Facebook. They really pull through for this event and I'm honored to work with them. They are the backbone for turning on the lights and every other moving part. Thank you for making our dreams come true and for helping us raise money for the SPCA Tampa Bay.
It's such a challenge to do these shows and we barely have marketing money so the people that show up really make the difference. Whether 2 people show up or 300 people show up., we will still work just as hard to raise money for the SPCA and never give up. We love what we do and I thank you Okie for your support, inspiration and dedication to the art community.
RETURN TO WONDERLAND
Friday, April 29, 2011
Buy Tickets with "Okie" Discount: CLICK HERE
The Heights Trolley Barn
end of 7th Avenue & Ola in Tampa, Florida
Like BarkinHeARTs on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BarkinHeARTs