Trainwreck Productions.
Catchy name?  Self-fulfilling prophecy?
In the winter of 2008, after my first semester as a theatre major at University of Northern Iowa, I returned to Dubuque to spend the holiday with my family and friends. That vacation resulted in something very unique. That December, I found myself, at chance conversing with people I came to know while a student at Senior High, participating in theatre at Senior and in the Dubuque community. These cosmic sorts of encounters led me to hearing from a number of talented theatre artists and friends something that became a theme: there’s simply not enough theatre to do. Indeed, a dilemma for theatre artists, but what a wonderful problem to have!
Growing up in Dubuque, theatre and music have been a tremendous and positive influence in my life, leading me not only to secondary education and, hopefully, a career in the field, but also into a version of myself that’s more actualized and complete as I continue to explore and experience it through theatre?

That winter, my mind was forced to ponder the possibility of providing an additional outlet, a new avant-garde theatre for Dubuque and the opportunities it could provide to both theatre artists and the community. I discussed my thoughts out loud with friends who, with enthusiasm, resounded my ideas and curiosity. Soon after, a theatrical production company was born. But what to call it?

Mark Ravenhill’s pool (no water) would open our inaugural season –a dark story and intense exploration of disturbing human truths, a script written with a narrative structure, that, well… didn’t exist. Excited, yet not knowing what to expect, we decided to be wittily upfront with our audience, and from a very short list of ideas, quickly settled on “Trainwreck Productions,” and even jokingly discussed branding ourselves with the slogan, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you...”

We didn’t realize at the time that we would be one of several theatre companies to premiere that summer, and similarly to them, we originated to provide an outlet for artists, looked to produce shows in found spaces, and made efforts to make performances as accessible as possible by providing them free of charge or least as inexpensively as we could afford to. Having so much in common with these new theatre companies, and not desiring to compete with them or the already existing theatre scene that I enjoyed growing up in, I thought about completely retiring Trainwreck Productions. During this contemplation, a friend’s words reminded me, “don’t be better, be different.”

What could be different about Trainwreck Productions…


While starting up, we received fantastic support and encouragement, yet we were perhaps more excited about the responses we received on our season, pool (no water) and also our second production, a multimedia stage-version of Joss Whedon’s musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. The reactions were anything but neutral, and I gladly admit, not entirely positive either. And this past year, we tried to use a traditional production model with structured a season. This model, in addition to functioning more like a machine than foster of spirit, tremendously failed and led to my considering Trainwreck’s immediate retirement. And now, with renewed spirit and vigor, we reclaim our name, “Trainwreck Productions.” Inevitably, we will at times fail, but we will not fear failure. Through our risks, we become more potent artists and, though our failures, we learn and become experts through experience in our craft. We will not have structured seasons, but encourage anyone to let Trainwreck Productions be their venue for theatrical exploration and even experimentation.

Through our embracement of risk taking, our being in the present moment, our adaptability, and our passion, we will continue to pursue:
To produce theatre which offers the community unique, meaningful, superior-quality experiences that have the ability to inspire and improve lives and relationships. To be a bold statement in theatre with both the material we perform and the way we perform it. To be committed to producing new works and works often overlooked. As we believe that the arts are the foundation and spirit of every culture and community and transcend boundaries, differences, and generations and lead to the progress of human-betterment by giving it meaning, we will produce theatre and fine and performing arts education to better humanity and the human experience.
Be an actor. Be a director. Be a playwright. Be a designer. Be a patron. Trainwreck Productions is your theatre company. Do with it what you wish. Do with it what you risk. It ain’t all gonna be fun. It ain’t all gonna be pretty. But who knows what will happen on the way?

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

R. Michael Decker
Artistic Director
Trainwreck Productions

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