I recently made a donation to LA Intimate Theatre Legal Funds. Even though I am no longer active in the community, the time I spend doing small theatre was the best schooling I ever received. I learned the productive multi-tasking, time & personality management and how to achieving the goal. Theatre is magic – no matter what happens during the pre production and rehearsal period, the curtain must go up on the opening day.
And it is a collaborative art. Even a solo show, there are so so many people behind this one actor. If you are not a team player, you will be out. There is no one who can survive in theatre communities if incapable of getting the team behind him or her.
I often get all the credits as a theatre owner first then now as a producer. However, there were THOUSANDS of people who helped me to push through.
When I met Mercedes Shirley at the Stella Adler more than 20 years ago, I knew nothing about theatre business. After two years, I somehow graduated the school, I continued to work with her, and she refused to accept any money from me. Sadly, she passed away 2 weeks before we opened the theatre we built together.
Her family stepped in – and raised the funds in lieu of flower at her memorial service and donated to our theatre. Her circle of friends were so vast – many old friends of hers, including Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, send us donations for the theatre construction. (which cost about $250,000 – and no, we didn’t own the building.)
I ran the theatre and non profit organizations for ten years, till I retired in 2010 to focus on directing. And I always had another job to support myself – as a corporate trainer and a consultant.
Theatre in LA has never been a lucrative business. You can support the theatre by doing “side business” – and it is not to be confused with “outreach” program, which a non profit company requires to do to maintain the status. If a company is teaching a class for youth for $500, that is a business, not “outreach.” We had an acting class for adults (“business”) while teaching children class for free or $50 a month or less (“out reach”). I worked my ass off for these damn 10 years to maintain the balance.
You cannot put the price on the sense of satisfaction though. We taught Shakespeare for homeless children, performed at hospitals, gave tons of tickets to schools, for free. It was all possible because of generous people and artists.
Theatre communities in LA is not a commercial endeavor, it is often the contributions of artists to the community. No one gets paid, it’s a volunteer work, and actually we fund our own projects to make it happen.
So, it is ridiculous to ban its Union member to do what they love to do while they nourish our community, like AEA is trying to do now.
Without generous artists donating their time and talents, I wouldn’t have the experience I have under my belt now. They not only shared their talent, but they taught me that creating art is possible as long as we work together no matter where you live.
I wish I could post all pictures of the actors I worked with, but most of them are before the face book time, and I didn’t own iPhone then…
So here’s some – I love you all, and thank you all!