Don’t Despair! All the World’s a Stage.

 

Early this month, I had the wonderful experience of directing two original pieces with the Estrogenius Festival at Manhattan Theater Source.

This weekend, The Source sent an email to the participants letting us know that at the end of 2011, after 12 years, they will no longer have a home at 177 MacDougal. Another theater company has lost their home.

I felt an immediate sadness then anger. The sadness stemmed from knowing that I won’t be able to visit and work in the theater space. I cut my teeth in spaces in the Village. I spent a big part of my life there. As a teenager, I hung out there even though I was forbidden to do so. I went to college and got my first real job right on Broadway and Waverly. So I have a true kinship with the area. When I was asked to be a part of the Estrogenius Festival next year, I thought to myself, I am back home.

The anger came from an immediate flashback of the spaces that I have worked in that are no longer in existence. For example, the other area of the city in which I did many a show was at a building on 46th and 8th Avenue, where McHale’s Pub once resided. In that building were four theater spaces that were really cool and off the beaten path. That building was torn down and an expensive high rise built in its place. Ugh. Another favorite spot of mine was the home of the 29th Street Repetory Company. The space is gone. I don’t even know or care to know at the moment what is there. As a producer, location is a huge part of selecting a space. The 29th Street Repertory Company was in a great location near all public transportation. (Thankfully, David Mogentale continues to rent his other loft spaces as Altered Stages I and II).

After ten minutes of living in Crazytown, the noise in my head got quiet. I realized that it is the people that make the experience not the actual space. The space enhances our experience. And that’s when I realized that I have to accept that time is changing and it’s really expensive to rent in NYC. My hometown is expensive and areas of the city that were artist enclaves are slowly disappearing. As a result, we as artists have two choices. Stop creating and become a cog OR continue to express our art but do it in a possibly unconventional space or manner. It’s officially time to think outside the box.

My company, Black Henna, and many other theater troupes perform in many types of places such as lofts, black boxes, cafes, bars and parks. We choose the spots in which to produce as it fits the piece. I remember thinking early in my career that all shows have to be in a space with a two week run. Don’t ask where that arbitrary number came from but it’s possible it had to do with budget. Then we did Much Ado About Nothing in the parks and it was the most freeing theater.  And so began my thinking about how I was going to produce my three pieces next year (MTS is no longer an option).

For sure, we will be doing Twelfth Night in the parks. As for the other two, the answer will present itself. The limitations are endless and the ideas boundless.

And that’s how we continue to perform on the ever evolving stage.

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Save the Date for my Round Robin: Saturday, January 14th, 2012. If you haven’t taken the survey yet, click here.

Love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment below.

Move a Muscle, Change a Thought

Tonight, Ian and I finally made it to Godspell at Circle on the Square. Why finally? Well, as in any show that we are involved in, whether producing, directing, designing, etc., we always go on opening night. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it there as we are in rehearsals for another show, See How They Run.

Godspell is different from our other productions as we are a part of a much bigger machine called Broadway. Our part in this show, as we are asked many times, is that we are investors – People of Godspell (www.peopleofgodspell.com).  As a result,  we knew we had to get there before opening night just to see the show and watch the evolution of a project we’ve been involved in for over a year.

What joy to experience this at the beginning of the week. In general, I love seeing a Broadway show because it reminds me of why I do theater. But to sit in a seat and know that we are a part of it, is a bit surreal. The possibilities seem plausible. We made a decision to invest in order to learn more about our craft and not be stagnant in what is comfortable. We moved a muscle and changed our thought.

Click here to read Ian’s thoughts on tonight’s show.

And don’t forget to take my survey for my Round Robin. Click to the right.

 

NYC Theatre (or Theater)

Living in NYC offers many opportunities for the theater artist (i.e., actor, director, playwright, producer, etc.) . And it’s all at your reach. You don’t even need to focus on one area…of the art or the city. This year was a special theater year for me. Not only did I beat my own record for seeing shows in one year but I also managed to see a variety of work. Seeing a show on Broadway and seeing a local show may seem like worlds apart.  Though they may be, at the heart of those productions is a passion to tell a story to an audience. Recently, I saw Priscilla, Queen of the Desert with Will Swenson and my friend, Jocelyn Bioh in Radha Blank’s Seed at the National Black Theater in Harlem.  Both shows are amazing. Of course there are differences: stage size,  budget, story lines. At the heart were actors performing and enjoying themselves. They believed in their work.
That’s what I love about doing theatre in this city. In one month, I had a show going up at the Estrogenius Festival at Manhattan Theater Source in the Village, was in (and still am) in rehearsals for my upcoming production of See How They Run with the Parkside Players in Forest Hills, and am one of the investors in Godspell on Broadway. I don’t feel limited to one type of theatre. I have passion for all of it.

I  have learned so much along the way and I will share the experiences with you.