“At 20 years old, trapped in an idealistic fervor and certain I wanted to be the next Margo Jones, I set out to create a new kind of theater (something only a 20-year-old would list as a goal on graduate applications.).
Thankfully, I had already been actively working in the indie theater community for almost three years at this point. I’d seen productions come into being from almost every angle and felt I had some capacity to replicate that on my own (bear in mind I said some capacity!)
But the final piece to that equation, and the most important part in my opinion, was that I had the people in my life to join me in a production of my own. I had people I could turn to and say, “Hey, so three months from now we are going to stage the first non-children’s show in the country for individuals with Autism. And what’s more? It’s going to be Brecht!” And for some reason, these people didn’t turn and run! (I am still, sometimes, amazed at that).
And was it a bit rocky at first? Sure. Was it a bit rushed and a bit crazy? Of course. But it was also a bit amazing and a bit like your heart jumping out of your body and doing awkward, fluttering somersaults. In a short time, we had original compositions written for us of all the songs, masks painted for most of the near 40 characters, and puppets built from scratch for the rest. We had an ensemble of 14 actors rehearsing almost 7 nights a week for no pay.
But the most wonderful thing for me in all of that was the artists involved, the relationships I could fall back on. These artists and I have continued to work together, in my company and in others across NY. Those who haven’t been able to see productions, have supported us in other ways; writing plays, being audience members, being emotional support behind the scenes.
And we all are incredibly busy people. We all have very little free time be someone’s emotional rock at three in the morning when a design element isn’t quite right, or to jump in and run a light board at the last minute, or to write a new piece for a reading series the following week.
So why do we do it? This is a community that seems to truly trust each other (even in our crazy ideas) and love each other. And we really do. The people I work with in my shows are the same people I ring in the New Year with, the same people I bake birthday cakes for, the first I call with good news and bad news. We have laughed, cried, made far too many inappropriate jokes, but mostly made some kick ass art.
And perhaps this all sounds rather maudlin. For me though, the most important part about indie theater community in New York, the reason I chose to be here and will choose to stay here is the people. It’s a group of people who are not only willing to accept and run with your own crazy theatrical passions and ideas, but whose own passions shine through in any interaction. And if I can spend my life surrounded by passionate, shiny people, I figure I am doing something right : ) “