77 Things

I was dragged kicking and screaming into the Twitter age – specifically by Jason McCool and Robyn Linden. The whole idea of it seemed a little too coy to me. However, and I admit this with a certain amount of residual shame, I’ve been converted. Largely because of #2amt, which is a collection of conversations about everything theatre.

Recently, DC Playwright Gwydion Suilebhan (@GwydionS) – who I know only through Twitter – posted a blog entry that I loved: Talking About What’s Good. In an attempt to accentuate the positive a little, he has created a list of 77 (an arbitrary number that he selected because it seemed hard) things he loves about DC Theatre.

I love his list. It’s been 7 years since I lived in DC, so a lot of the references go by me, but some of them struck such wonderful chords in me. He’s grateful for Jennifer Mendenhall’s brilliance onstage (which anyone who has ever seen her understands), for Eric Messner, for his collaborators, for the ceiling of Gala Theatro, for certain places he gets to eat before shows. And that is only four items on his list…

So, I’m going to try the same for Boston. I’ve been here 7 years now, have a company and collaborators that I love, serve on the Boards of the Small Theatre Alliance and StageSource – I work with wonderful people all the time. And I have a tendency to demand a lot from this town, so I more often find myself talking about what we need to do or have or be… and not what we are. So, in the spirit of celebration and in no particular order:

77 Things I Love About Boston Theatre

  1. Jen O’Connor – walked in to audition for the first show Whistler did and has become my best friend and most frequent collaborator. The most fearless person I know – Jen walks around saying “yes” to the world.
  2. Seeing Waiting for Godot at the ART when I was in 8th grade and deciding that my life would be spent trying to do that;
  3. A few years later, getting to do a stage management internship for the ART production of Long Day’s Journey into Night, featuring Claire Bloom, Bill Camp, Michael Stuhlbarg and Dan O’Herlihy which absolutely cemented that goal for me;
  4. Drinks at Coda after almost every show I’ve seen at the BCA;
  5. Standing in front of the BCA between 7:30-8pm on a night when there is a show playing in every theatre – the whole plaza bursting with audience members and actors…
  6. Aimee Rose Ranger, Melissa Barker, Danny Bryck, Nate Gundy, Molly Haas Hooven, Meron Langsner, PJ Strachman, Scott Sweatt, Emily Woods Hogue, Mac Young – my collaborators and inspirations;
  7. StageSource – a hub of information and assistance for theatrical artists of all stripes;
  8. Reading The Hub Review every week – love him or hate him, Tom Garvey is a true provocateur – he gets me riled up enough that I have to rethink my positions on issues and plays I thought I was clear on;
  9. Blackbird at Speakeasy Stage – shook me to the core both times I saw it;
  10. While I’m on that track, Marianna Bassham and her courageous beautiful work. In every thing she does;
  11. The Factory Theatre – without this tiny wonderful little theatre, the thriving fringe and small theatre community would be largely homeless;
  12. The Small Theatre Alliance of Boston – less than three years old, and representing over 35 member organizations;
  13. Heckling actors I love at imaginary beasts‘ yearly Winter Panto;
  14. Also, the imaginary beasts’ celebration of Gertrude Stein’s work in their production of Look and Long;
  15. Collaborating with Charlestown Working Theater this past fall on our Greek festival;
  16. Getting the chance to see CWT’s Odyssey for a second time;
  17. Pirates! (or, Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder’d) at the Huntington – gleeful ridiculous mayhem;
  18. An evening of Beckett shorts presented by Molasses Tank Theatre when I first moved to Boston that convinced me that I was in the right place;
  19. The Alliance OpenMic Night for playwrights – this semi-monthly playwright project gives me exposure to some great new voices in Boston and a chance to do cold readings, which is always wonderful;
  20. Getting dressed up to go to the Wang Center for the Performing Arts once a year and just looking up in that lobby and pretending I’m in a different century;
  21. Lorna Nogueira and her brave beautiful work;
  22. Caesarian Section, presented by Theater Tzar at the CWT this summer – 50 brilliant shocking minutes;
  23. Larry Stark, who has attended every Whistler production, including our inaugural one, where he was the only audience member in attendance that night;
  24. Rough & Tumble – specifically their production of  Hinterlands: Season One and that one scene in it where we saw backstage at the circus;
  25. The now annual tradition of Mill 6’s T Plays – a gathering of people who must have won “Plays Well with Others” in their respective senior years in high school;
  26. Henry V at Actors’ Shakespeare Project – a beautiful spare production of a lovely play;
  27. New York Pizza Kitchen slices before weeknight performances at The Factory;
  28. More collaborators: Curt Klump, Matthew Woods, John O’Brien, John Herndon, Nora Long, Dawn Simmons;
  29. Bridget O’Leary – wonderful friend, inspiring artist;
  30. ArtsEmerson. The World On-stage, indeed. Bringing challenging, beautiful, provocative work to Boston;
  31. Going with Matt Chapuran (theatre-buddy extraodinaire) to see Les 7 Doigts de la Main perform Psy: a wonderful and giddy show;
  32. John J King, playwright, Renaissance man;
  33. Working with Meron Langsner to create the 23 atrocious acts of violence in our production of Family Stories;
  34. Watching the audiences’ reactions to those 23 atrocities;
  35. SOOP – Aimee Rose’s monthly potluck of storytellers, singers and artists building a community of work together;
  36. The fact that entering pretty much every theatre in this town brings with it a feeling of being at home and with my people;
  37. The feeling of exhaustion after a day at the StageSource open call auditions – and the one or two actors I see every year who surprise me out of my daze;
  38. Being at a place in my life where people who I’ve worshiped since I was a kid seeing them at the ART are now friends and collaborators;
  39. Learning aerial silks for Tales from Ovid;
  40. Watching every single performance of Tales from Ovid;
  41. The Sparrow at Stoneham Theatre;
  42. Jim Petosa – sage, mentor, elegant and clean director whose work is now starting to grace New Rep’s stages regularly – more please!
  43. ArtsBoston.org
  44. The army of ushers at Stoneham Theatre who are honest-to-goodness that happy to see you – and who make sure you don’t trip on your way in or out;
  45. Julie Henrikkus – that woman is going to save the world somehow….
  46. Being able to organize and commission an evening of new works in under two months because Boston artists are that excited about generating material;
  47. Running into any number of our cities great actors in full period garb while exiting the Park Street T stop;
  48. The late-night, post-show ritual of closing down a bar or two before heading out to Central to grab a falafel wrap at Falafel Palace;
  49. The plethora of Pay-What-You-Can nights for all theatres, combined with Under 35 and Industry deals, that mean I actually can afford to see as much theatre as I want;
  50. The fact that I will still miss some shows because there is simply SO MUCH work going on;
  51. Ben Evett;
  52. Frans Rijnbout’s Theatre in Greater Boston report – and the long conversation I had with him to participate in it;
  53. PJ Strachman’s elegant designs that absolutely guide the audience into the world of my productions – even when I’m asking her to work with 15 dimmers;
  54. The on-going and sometimes infuriating conversation about how we can make Boston theatre better/stronger/more supported/more in the foreground of public attention. The community is committed to engaging this issue – and lately has actually been putting action into it as well as words;
  55. The Mirror up to Nature – Art Hennessey’s informative blog;
  56. ARTiculation at Company One – so much delightful poetic fun;
  57. REPA;
  58. New to me this week – tech week at the BCA Plaza Black Box – something so fun about having two shows teching in the same theatre at the same time;
  59. Reading the StagePage every month and trying to figure out just how I will cram it all into my schedule;
  60. Mac Young – kindred spirit as both an actor and a designer;
  61. The Twitter feeds from all the companies attending both of our city’s award shows – so much love and support across the community;
  62. The Pain and The Itch at Company One;
  63. Boston Center for American Performance at BU;
  64. Emerson Stage;
  65. Diego Arciniegas’s performance in Thom Paine (based on nothing) at New Rep
  66. The Boston Theatre Conference – a semi-annual time when we all get together and talk about the process of creating work in this city;
  67. New young companies, like Vagabond and Fresh Ink, emerging every day;
  68. Mikey DiLoreto, a tireless and endlessly positive force in the small theatre scene;
  69. The willingness of established professionals to mentor young and emerging artists in their fields;
  70. The handful of companies, large and small, who are actively creating ensembles of artists who work together time and again, deepening the level of the work on stage;
  71. Drinks at 21 Nickles after every show at the Arsenal Center;
  72. Last season’s Opus at New Rep – lyrical and lovely;
  73. The flurry of Facebook- and Twitter-love that is spreading through the companies of the city – we are supporting each other’s work  and promoting shows outside of our own organizations in ways that are truly heartening;
  74. The fact that there are still several companies in this town whose work I have never seen – companies like Gold Dust Orphans, whose work I know I will love;
  75. The Alliance SmallTalk series – learning about the nuts and bolts of producing theatre in this town by having intimate conversations with practitioners from a variety of small theatres;
  76. Specifically, the SmallTalk where I got to speak with Darren Evans, John O’Brien, Matthew Woods and John J King – so much learned and shared that night!
  77. The fact that the trend in Boston right now is one of collaboration – that companies are working together, working to promote each other, sharing resources and information.

Okay. That’s my 77. Both harder and easier to compile than I thought it would be.

Now, what did I miss?

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7 Responses to 77 Things

  1. Devon says:

    Booze is such an important tool for collaboration and art appreciation.

  2. Irene says:

    Well isn’t that just the lovliest thing ever!

  3. I love this list! What a great idea…

  4. Coriana says:

    WORD TO THAT.
    I was building up a mental list of favorites from your list to particularly reference in my comment, but it got too long.
    I love this town. I love all the wild and wonderful creative people I share it with. I am so excited that I get to be part of this community, quite possibly for the entire rest of my life. And I could probably add another 77 to your 77 — but I don’t have time to do that before I head off to see Neighborhood 3 — so I’m just going to throw out a few particular awesome things I can’t resist mentioning:
    1. Kenny Steven Fuentes’s reaction to the first reading of a scene from a play by Kevin Mullins (at the first ever Alliance Open Mic Night — Kenny leapt from his seat and shouted “You just blew my fucking mind!”)
    2. The fact that it has become completely impossible for me to go see a show without discovering I know at least one person involved with the production in some capacity (and often many more than one)
    3. Whistler’s post-show tradition of inviting the audience to stay and talk with the cast and crew over a bottle of wine
    …I could keep going.
    ~ Coriana

  5. Outstanding, Meg.
    Just. Plain. Outstanding.
    !
    Scott

  6. Scratch says:

    Looking good. And inspirational — made me think about my 77.

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