Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Theater Thinkings

(This is a narrative essay I've written for a job application. Any thoughts, criticisms, advice, or irrelevant jokes would be highly prized.)

Boston is in an interesting position in its development as a theater capital, and the reason I am interested in this position at this time is because I hope to be able to have a voice in the direction in which it goes an artistic community. I’m afraid that Boston theater companies, artists, producers, and even educational artistic institutions are attempting to echo the culture of New York, which is revered as the theatrical capital of the country but has undoubtedly drifted into a vicious cycle of instant gratification, attractive spectacles, and commercialism. Boston is a city of education and progression, with a history steeped in courage and risk, and that is what our theater needs to begin to reflect.

My goal is to start my own theater company in Boston that brings incredible local artists together with the diverse and colorful community of the city. In my final undergraduate year at Emerson College I was fortunate enough to take a graduate course with Robbie McCauley and Christina Marín called Theater and Community, where I was first introduced to Augusto Boal and Forum Theater. I felt like I had finally discovered a channel of creation that I thoroughly enjoyed and felt comfortable in, combining my love of performing, teaching, and creating into a beautiful, meaningful, and communal process that always produced amazing pieces. I want to start a company that acts as a center for new works and progressive ideas, using Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed to reach into the local and global community for inspiration for new stories. Playwrights, directors, producers, actors, etc. would work with the community, pulsing with the drama and vibrant with life that the stage craves, to inspire new works while simultaneously helping others through creative expression. This company would function as a workshop, not only for artists but also for the community, giving space and support for educational, social, and artistic groups to use theater as a catalyst for social change and education. In this way, Boston artists would come into contact with the grounded stories that are living all around them while simultaneously using their creative gift to help others.

The qualities I possess that make me the ideal candidate for this fellowship are my vast theatrical education, recent cross-country and European traveling experiences, my grounded nature, and a deep passion for truth and art. I have been involved in theater my entire life, mostly with performing but also with stage management, directing, playwriting, and tech. I understand the creative process backwards and forwards from all angles, and am very motivated to begin my education in the administrative element of theater. Having traveled across the U.S. and Europe for the past year, I’ve begun to understand the differences between sustainable understanding through deep experience and superficial knowledge without an emotional source. The culture of Europe and parts of the U.S. are rooted in such a deep history that it will never be irrelevant or unimportant, and so theater productions, museums, and musicians in these places aren’t under the same pressure to rake in as much money with flashy spectacles in order to survive. This is something I will take back with me to the United States, an understanding that a truly moving experience is something that comes from the deeply rooted process of learning and emotional history, not the knowledge this is produced from this process. I think theatrical productions can reflect this deep, introspective movement in society and individuals while simultaneously being entertaining and successful.

Finally, what makes me the ideal candidate for this position is who I am, which can be defined by my passions. I am honest and prioritize truth above all things, I believe that only by being open and truthful can we begin to fully know others, and that we can make the world a better place simply by learning to speak from the heart. Since I have been in Germany as an Au pair for the past seven months I have started my own writer’s workshop with other English speakers in my area, and I have discovered, once again, my talent and passion for bringing people together, to change one another through creativity and expression. From every workshop I have organized I have left with the incredible feeling that I have influenced someone to think beyond themselves, try something new, and bring their ideas to unknown territories. I want to continue to help people in this way for the rest of my life, and I believe my experience and love for theater will combine perfectly with my ability to create artistic communities to create a new medium for such work.

What Boston theater companies, and all companies, for that matter, need to embody in their missions and productions is the risk of having a real heart. They need to be able to move beyond expectations, reaching into its community, and getting back to the roots of what makes theater so powerful. Anyone can put on Into the Woods or A Midsummer Night’s Dream and make it look beautiful and meaningful, but isn’t it time to start thinking about the next step? The next step is expanding our reach locally and globally, rediscovering our communities and their stories, revitalizing theater with a passion for truth and knowledge, and giving artists the chance to construct grounded truth onstage.