Photo courtesy of Mike Draper
BY NATALIE LARIMER
Plenty of artists can be found throughout the US, especially in big cities like Des Moines.
Local entrepreneur Mike Draper has contributed in the form of witty t-shirts, via his business Raygun. But now Draper has a new project in the works, something to contribute to the theater scene of Des Moines and the Midwest.
“It’s the greatest play ever written about t-shirts, beards, bank fraud and Midwestern culture,” Draper said.
His first play, called “No Coast” will debut in February of this year.
While “No Coast” is based on Raygun, it’s not the history of the store.
“It’s centered about a clothing store in Des Moines, Iowa, that does its own design, so the store is similar to Raygun in that some of the content is the same,” Draper said. “It’s a re-imagining of the store and the in-between of the creative side of running a business and the business side.”
As it is a play about a clothing store, it has to have elements of running an actual business involved.
“There are graphs of income versus expense and cash flow so anyone who watches it and wonders how a business works internally, they’re going to learn something,” Draper said. “I’m obviously not going to pitch it to people saying that there’s graphs about cash flow, but it is somewhat necessary to explain how a business can sell a lot of stuff and bring in a lot of money while also struggling with finances.”
Draper likened it to worrying about the next month’s income while also trying to come up with a funny Tweet.
Once Draper had a script, he brought it to Kristen Larson, the head of the theater department at Grand View University in Des Moines. Larson is now directing the production.
“It’s very unique to the Midwest and it’s really just very funny,” Larson said. “It’s very sweet and has a great cast, it’s just a good way for Midwesterners to enjoy a story with a lot of heart in it.”
Draper said he would like to continue playwriting as a creative outlet from time to time.
“It depends on how this turns out,” Draper said. “If this ends up being a total dumpster fire then I’m not sure it’ll motivate anyone in wanting to be in another theater endeavor with me. There’s no money in it so I’m not going to like, quit my day job and just do this.”
Draper wrote the whole script in a couple hours after thinking about it for a long time while sleep-training his youngest son.
When it got to Larson, it was a huge script that needed to be shaped into a polished form.
The two met via a common acquaintance, Scott Siepker, who is playing the lead role in “No Coast.”
Larson and Siepker own Goldfinch Theater together and have been working with each other for a couple years now, but this experience with Draper still felt new and revitalizing.
“It’s so easy and it’s fun and not burdened by a lot of drama or ego,” Larson said.
“No Coast” is about Iowa in that it gives a critical viewpoint through the eyes of a local business in Des Moines.
“It kind of takes the way that people think about Iowa and turns it on its head,” Larson said. “You get the view of a native Iowan who pokes fun at their own state. You’re going to have fun and it’s going to be a delightful experience.”
The play takes some elements of satire, but is not classified specifically as a satirical play.
“You could call it comedy. It doesn’t end in somebody dying so it’s not a tragedy,” Draper said. “It keeps the humor throughout and it kind of keeps human emotion at an arms length which. I was born without feelings, so that’s where I keep human emotions anyway.”
It does not have the kind of slap-stick comedy that common in local theater, meaning that this could shape the scene of Midwestern-based plays.
“In the middle of winter it is nice to get into a room with other Midwesterners and have a good laugh and hear a good story,” Larson said.
Tickets are $15 each and the show will run from Feb. 10 through 17 at the Grand View Viking Theater.
“I think it will be slightly above people’s expectations as long as their expectations are moderate,” Draper said.