Readers, I have a confession to make. A possibly dark confession that some of you may be shocked by. Not one I am ashamed of, but one that you don’t hear very often from 20-somethings wanting to work in theatre, or much of the entertainment industry in general.
I have never (and probably will never) consider a move to New York City or LA.
Why? Simply stated, I have no desire to. Those two cities hold none of the allure for me that they do to so many others. I have no desire to “make it big” and “be famous”. Sure, I would love to make some more money. But I don’t want to have to hustle and pound the pavement All. The. Freaking. Time. I want to be lazy and switch back and forth among a few steady gigs. I want to live long enough in a place to establish a garden that comes back every year. I want to have friends who’ve known me for years, not just new people to party with at every gig. And most of all, I want easy access to nature and pretty scenery.
I’m not opposed to cities. Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Denver, Raleigh, Sacramento, and San Francisco all sound like great places to live. I’d even consider Chicago, but mostly because I want snow and the city itself seems interesting, not to mention the theatre scene. However, I also fantasize about doing theatre in a small town. Maybe someplace like Murphys, CA. Someplace small enough that telling the stories of the community could really have an impact.
Right now, I am fortunate to work at a theatre that actually does a really high proportion of plays written by our company members. All of our School Tour (traveling show that goes to schools and does 40 minute assemblies) shows are written by people who live in the Sacramento area, and most of them have been here for 20+ years. The spring Tour show even consists of play ideas from local students, tweaked and developed by our company. 3 of the 4 Family Series shows done each year are also written by company members. And every year Buck, our artistic director, writes our holiday show, that may or may not have anything to do with the holidays. Our current mainstage show is written and performed by Jack Gallagher, a stand-up comedian who has made Sacramento his home since the 1990s.
However, none of our other mainstage or B3 shows (the two series for adults) are ever written by local playwrights, or even are new works being fully developed. They are shows that were already produced somewhere else and have been (at least slightly) tested.
I want to be able to be a part of a work that gets developed from the ground up. I want to watch the actors, director, and playwright all shape each other and a show together. I want to be in the rehearsal process, helping to create a safe place so that I can watch these amazing people create something new. Or I want to be able to work on the design challenges of a new show, and get to spend some quality time making it a great labor of love.
I got a chance to work on a smaller scale on a show like this at New Helvetia Theatre this past summer. The director, writer, and actors all had a great, open relationship that allowed for dialogue about what was working in which scenes and possible ways to take the character and story. It was a fantastic experience, and I want more of it! I want to be part of the process longer and to get to see a show fully produced from the little tiny seeds of conception.
I don’t want to start a theatre company. But I feel like I might have to do that to get to participate in such an experience. Or maybe Sacramento can get enough momentum going to start something like Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival, which I am TOTALLY JEALOUS OF!!! (PDX friends, I am begging you to go and tell me about all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful things you experienced…Don’t delay! It starts today!). Or maybe NHT has caught onto something and I can worm my way in sooner. Or maybe I need to work with some of the active community theatres in town…
Maybe what I want to do is write a play, but I can’t for the life of me think of any stories to tell…
All I know for sure is, I DON’T want to do any of these things in NYC or LA. I’d rather make stories by, about, and for people in all the other parts of the country, especially NorCal and PDX, since they are the places I know the best.
Here are links to some other great theatre blogs that feel a similar way, and say things much better than I do: