Choreographer Rebekah Stiles' car, which was packed with period costumes for the World War I-era play, was stolen outside Lloyd Center on Tuesday afternoon, the day after the first dress rehearsal and nine days before the show opens.
Only a few days later, many of the stolen items have been replaced, mostly by donations. The company isn't out of the woods yet financially as a result of the theft, but artistic director Laura Christina Dunn says the show will open as planned.
"People just came out of the woodwork, like, 'Oh you need bird hats? I'll make that for you. You need army boots, size 7? I got some Doc Martens,'" says Dunn. "That's just been amazing the way that Portland has just kind of stepped up."
A collaboratively run company, Broken Planetarium creates low-budget, impassioned folk musicals and cabarets. Rosa Red is a musical based off of letters sent between German socialist Rosa Luxemburg and her close friend Sophie Liebknecht. The letters were written while Luxemburg was in prison and leading up to her execution in 1919 shortly after she was released. As with all of Broken Planetarium's shows, Dunn wrote the script and composed the folk music libretto, and also plays Leibknecht. The show will play at the Clinton Street Theater from May 3-6.
Donations from friends, fans and fellow thespians replaced about half of what was stolen. The company replaced the rest with out-of-pocket funds.
"The problem is people don't have a lot of World War I clothing in their closet," says Dunn. "We've been still having to buy a lot of stuff on our own."
It's a substantial blow to the small company, especially considering Rosa Red is the most expensive show Broken Planetarium has ever staged. After seeing a workshop of the play at this year's Fertile Ground Festival, an anonymous donor offered Broken Planetarium triple their typical budget for the fully staged production.
"It was a huge bummer to lose that," says Dunn. "I feel like we were given this gift and then it was taken away."
Though the premier of Rosa Red will go on as planned, the company hasn't fully recovered. The cost to replace what was stolen required the small nonprofit to dip into the budget for a new play they had in the works.
"Right now, we're not going to have the money to do it," says Dunn. "I was supposed to apply for a grant this week, but I haven't been able to because all of my time just suddenly went to this."
As a result, the company added a donate page to their website. Dunn says she remains hopeful.
"I think if I was a normal person I wouldn't, but I have this pathological optimism," she says. "It always feels like it's not going to happen and it is always super magical and amazing."