The Start of a New Theatre

The other night I went to the inaugural production of  a new theatre company in town. I was impressed, for many reasons. New theatres sprout up around here all the time, several each year. Few survive beyond a few productions or seasons. I think there may be something different about this one.

I’ve been known to say how producing your own theatre can be the most rewarding, and the hardest, work you may ever do in theatre. Having been a part of a few different companies, where I was often wearing more than one hat at one time…

(actor/producer, producer/director, writer/director, even one time as adapter/actor/director/producer – though not more than one creative job for the same piece of material in a grouping of shorts)

…I feel I know what I’m talking about. Of course, this may not be everyone’s experience of it. I may enjoy things others don’t, and get a thrill at seeing all the elements come together, and perhaps I have a control issue, I don’t know….but I know that when I’ve gone from doing double-duty on a show to being “just an actor” I was amazed at how easy it was to be “just an actor.”

And being “just an actor” is very difficult and time consuming and energy sucking. After all, when the lights go down on the house and up on stage, it’s all on him, or her.

But being creative and being part of the decision to do this particular show…that’s some satisfaction.

I digress… The reason I’m excited by what I saw at The Phoenix Theater Project‘s production of Proof is there was clear determination. Gumption. Drive. Desire. There was a lot of work done by few hands to get that show up on its feet, on a real set, in front of a real audience. It wasn’t a “let’s throw something together and call it a production” kind of thing. It was “we want to do this script because it’s important, because it tells the story of how we as humans connect and disconnect, and how our lives are entangled, and…” any number of other things that this brilliant script brings out, as well as “we’re going to do this right, with good talent.”

And the fact that there was so much good work done within it too was icing on the cake.

I expect they’ll continue on, with other important scripts. Forging their own way. I certainly hope so.

I’m excited to see just where it is they head.


One thought on “The Start of a New Theatre

  1. I totally agree. And I adore that they are focusing on collaborating with the communities that have a vested interest in the subject matter of their plays. I have to say that those of us at the Mental Health Association of Minnesota who have been involved with Proof are all really impressed with not only the artistic drive (very strong), but also their interest in input from people outside the theatre world. Two Board members attended rehearsals to give feedback on how they were portraying relationships in a family where a mental illness is present, and staff and board members attended a performance. We were all excited about how they reached beyond the usual suspects to lend truth to what they are portraying. Kudos to Phoenix Theater Project all around. I’ll be following what they do.

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