That’s a quote I wrote down from this year’s SETC President Elect, which I find to be quite applicable to our theatre situation. On the good side, all of our classes (except for dance) are at capacity and all of our shows are currently selling out. On the bad side, this means that we cannot market or reach out to new people because we have no place to put them. This, in turn, puts us in limbo. The solution?
Go on a diet or buy a new dress.
Essentially, we either need to cut back our scope of services a little (which to me means stagnating…boo!) or we need put out some real money upfront for marketing, hiring additional staff and creating new programs that allow for at least two years’ worth of new growth. In other words, a new dress is in order. A big, plus-sized mumu kind of dress.
We are gaining two new staff members in June to ‘replace’ Bonnie & Brian, so that will help a little. We all knew that the workload this year would be difficult, but this is just irrational. We’ve all gotten pretty snarky towards each other lately, all for simple lack of rest. And now that the entire staff is women, we all menstruate at the same time – which, I might add, is completely uneccessary – and you basically have a looney bin of people who sit in the office eating chocolate and singing The Tree Song from Go, Dog, Go out loud without even realizing it.
To top it all off, my best friend is moving and leaving me with all of these crazy people. Fine, I say. Go on. Move away from a city where everyone loves you, drinks wine with you, buys shoes with you and plays Battleship with you (okay, not everyone, but you get my gist) and move to a place where nobody knows your name and you aren’t always glad you came. Pack up your fiancee and cats and leave me surrounded by rooms full of children with no hope of rescue. No one else can find me in a crowd. No one else is taller than 5’4″.
Okay, I do admit to some joy that she escapes to the presumed happiness and poverty of NYC, but that is mostly because I will get to visit the city and not have to pay for a hotel room. Also, I will no doubt be treated to free springrolls from their upstairs neighbors, who we think run a Chinese restaurant. But I am happy that she will get to spread her metaphorical creative wings, soaring into uncharted artistic territory, directing new works and being a brave artiste. For that, I and the children applaud you.
So while Bonnie goes on a significant diet, downsizing from her three-room apartment to just one room with free springrolls, SCT is working on a new dress. We just received the first draft of plans for a performing arts center that we hope to complete within about five years. The capitol campaign is supposed to launch at the opening of Peter Pan and before you ask, yes, it makes me so excited that I feel like peeing my pants. So now we’re all very ‘but how can we possibly…’ and ‘do we honestly think we can…’ or sometimes ‘Elvis on a piece of toast, can this really be happening?’
Of course, the answer is not about whether we can or cannot. The answer is that ‘we must.’
Vann has this thing about saying what you want. He calls it ‘putting it out there.’ Example: If I have a fleeting thought that I would like to have Indian food for dinner and I let it pass, life may resume as normal. If I say to someone ‘I want Indian food for dinner’ then I have ‘put it out there.’ The situation can no longer be ignored; it must be addressed.
We put it out there. We need a bigger space. But that isn’t the whole story, is it? The children deserve a better space. They deserve everything that we can possibly give them! They need proper space, proper tools and proper exposure to all that theatre can be. They deserve a place to discover their creativity and to learn the importance of arts programs when they grow to adulthood. The responsibility of the future to support the arts is not one that we take lightly, and if we get this new dress, the kids won’t shrug off that responsibility either.
If people continue to remove arts and performance programs from schools, then soon there won’t be any arts left for youth to appreciate, other than movies or video games. ‘No Child Left Behind’ shouldn’t refer to a new grading standard for students and teachers, but rather to the principle of making sure that every kid has a welcoming place to go after school and that every child is allowed to freely express themselves in a safe and fun environment. But if we can rally support, raise funds, heighten community awareness and create the wonderful performing arts center of our minds, then we can ensure out-of-the-box conflict/resolution, constructive thinking and artistic progression for our future! Just think of the impact.
I get really passionate and worked up about these things. My hope is that some of you do too. 🙂
Fortunately, for as many negatives as there are to our current workplace situation, if you squint a little there are just as many positives. I am blessed to work in an atmosphere where passion, humor and starting sentences with ‘guys, I had this dream last night and I think it would make a good play’ is not frowned upon, but encouraged! I also have great friends instead of coworkers and together we get to take these wonderful ideas – only words and notes on paper – then turn them into something beautiful to see and hear. That’s a pretty amazing gift.
Bonnie, we hope that you have a fantastic journey. Vann and I love you so very, very much. And if you don’t come back for the groundbreaking ceremony (whenever that is) we will never make you spaghetti again.