A conversation I often have with fellow artists is why we do what we do? It is not easy. We pour our souls out to an audience who may love or hate us. We tirelessly work towards opening night. Some experiences are great and some are questionable. However, theatre is a beautiful platform that allows us to be storytellers. What a gift to be able to do that.
Prior to becoming a producer, I did it all in the theatre: actress, director, writer, prop designer, stage manager, running crew, reviewer, publicist, biggest fan, etc. However, it was producing that came to me by accident. As a young director, work didn’t come easily to me. As a result, my merry band of mischief makers decided to just do it. I wore the producer/director hat for a long time and I grew to really love producing. It is a special endeavor that encompasses everything in life. It takes a certain constitution as well as a passion to wear this hat of many styles. So when a project comes my way, I have to make sure that it will be a happy marriage. That's for any style of producing and creating.
Devised theatre was a world I never experienced. I collaborated on many a project with playwrights and actors but this was different. Melissa and I were supporting our friend's show when she mentioned she needed another “her” on her project, No Man's Land. The project and process sounded interesting so I took the leap. I jumped onboard for the one night performance at Dixon Place in May 2016.
It wasn't until the day of the performance, while we were in tech, that I truly got it. The creation of the story through improvisation and organized chaos was inspiring. To see how an actor grabbed a piece of cloth to create a shadow representing the mountain range; a puppet's shadow as a refugee in an abstract manner; and breaking character while telling the story stretched my mind.
So how does a producer handle this new environment? It’s about bringing your own experience as well as being open to the new experience. The first thing I learned is that the script is an ever growing organism with new artists contributing their ideas. That meant that the performance of No Man’s Land at Dixon Place in May was not going to be the same performance at TheatreLab in November. A stretch for me, I went with the flow and knew that at the end of the day, it was about the overall production as well as the social platform created during a tough moment in our nation’s history. The audience left each performance moved and ready to take action. That’s a win.
As a producer, I keep two things front and center: Be fair. Be positive. The next thing: Listen. The last thing: Have fun.
See you at the show!