Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Rafael Jean

Who are you? Rafael Jaen

What do you do? I am a professional costume designer and a design-technology professor at Emerson College.

Where are you from originally? Caracas, Venezuela the New York City!

How long have you been working in Boston? Since 1985; I am older than Iook… Gasp! p!!!

Why do you stay? I love the seasons in New England, I love the urban scale and the historical neighborhoods. The city keeps growing in sophisticated ways; including a thriving art scene. Plus you can’t beat its proximity to Cape Cod!

What’s your earliest theatre memory? A production of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House mounted as a contemporary actors rehearsal in 1979. Though I was young. the immedicay of the topic and the earnest delivery from the actors hooked me.

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? Believe it or not; it was a Hasty Pudding show at Harvard. I met many of my first theater tech friends there.

What was your first job in the theatre? Designing costumes for the Watertown Dance Company in the late 80’s.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? Homemade gnocchi with truffle butter.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Chocolat!

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? I am usually behind the scenes… I try to snack and have mints at hand…

If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? Shorter winters!

What kind of theater excites you? All of it; specially new works with an edge.

What advice do you have for artists just starting out? Show up; show up, show up!!!

The Boston Theatre Conference focused on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? I completely embrace the idea it is about linking the pleasure of theater with a commitment to community and the cultural environment.

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

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Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Emily C. A. Snyder

Who are you? Emily C. A. Snyder

What do you do? I’m a theatre director, teacher and playwright.  Occasionally, I act.  (Mostly to remember what it’s like on the other side of the stagelights.)  As a director, I’m often also producer and designer – but it’s nice when I’m not!

Where are you from originally? All over – Amherst and Worcester, MA, then Portsmouth, NH, then Pompton Lakes, NJ, with a brief stint in Steubenville, OH and an even briefer stint in Gaming, Austria, then back to Marlborough, MA.

How long have you been working in Boston? The length of grad school at Emerson.

Why do you stay? Because there’s something exciting and rich here!  There’s a hunger for good theatre, new theatre, or old theatre made relevant today.  That’s important.

What’s your earliest theatre memory? Seeing Peter Pan with Sandy Duncan when I was 3.  I still remember some of the staging, and the moment when Peter Pan (the first love of my life) flew over me…?!?!!?!  Yeah.  Magic.

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? Actually, it was when we first moved back here from NJ.  I’d been spoiled rotten by being able to live only 45- minutes west of Broadway for eleven years and I was all “piffle” about theatre anywhere else.  Then I discovered the theatre district in Boston and promptly changed my mind. I

What was your first job in the theatre? First theatrical gig was in nursery school when the parents were late for some sort of presenation that day.  Since it was way too quiet and there was a hold, little four year old me naturally thought they were all there to be entertained, and I’d better jump into the breach.  So I stood up and presented two versions of the “I’m a Little Teapot” song.  However, the first PAID gig I had in theatre was a director for a 425-person Wizard of Oz (72 Munchkins…oy!).  Stockholm-syndrome-y, I’ve been happily directing ever since.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? I generally can’t eat before a show.  So, the best meal I’ve ever had AFTER was the cyclone pasta (now sadly removed) from Outback.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Diet Coke

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? Again, I generally forget to eat, and then when I’m hungry it’s too late and I’m too full of adreneline.

If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? The fear artists have about “selling out.”  Learn how to entertain AND educate.  Art and bums in seats are not mutually exclusive.

What kind of theater excites you? The more immediate, tangible and in-your-face, the better.  Out of the doublets and hose and into my face, please!

What advice do you have for artists just starting out? Breathe.  Don’t sell out your personal philosophies for a job.  Remember, you have the great honor of changing lives.  Make sure you can sign up for something that is true, good and beautiful.

The Boston Theatre Conference focused on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? think therefore I am!  no, seriously, I think that Boston is a great birthplace of new and developing works that rival – and I say this as one who was a Broadway snob – what’s being done anywhere else in the country.  Let’s get the word out, folks!

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

 

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Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Erika Geller

Who are you? Erika Geller

What do you do? I’m a Founding Co-Artistic Director with The CoLab Theatre Company, an actress, a playwright, and occasionally a waitress.

Where are you from originally? Pittsfield, MA

How long have you been working in Boston? I’ve been working professionally in Boston since 2009, but I’ve been experiencing theatre here since 2005.

Why do you stay? Love that dirty water. This city has a feeling about it that speaks to me.

What’s your earliest theatre memory? When I was about 9, I was in a production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. All I remember were the lights. It was terrifying.

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? My roommate and I went to see Spelling Bee – the production was so full of joy that I didn’t want it to end.

What was your first job in the theatre? When I was 16, I interned at a summer stock company in my hometown. I worked with the stage manager. I was so jealous of all of the actors! It was an important experience because it taught me where my heart belongs.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? My parents and I went out to a meal at Legal Seafoods. Rare tuna steak, seaweed salad, mashed potatoes, and a glass of pinot grigio! Yum!

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Apples. Or Twizzlers. 🙂

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? I’ll eat something small before I go on stage, usually yogurt or fruit or pretzels. Usually I’m too excited to eat anything more!

If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? I want to put butts in the seats. So many people are nervous to attend because they are unfamiliar with live theatre. Most theatre is accessible to the “everyman” (and woman) but they just don’t know it. We need to market it that way.

What kind of theater excites you? If the actors are enjoying themselves on stage, I’ll be excited in the audience. If the playwright put a piece of their heart in the script, I’m excited to speak their words. Show me a group of people who love their craft, and I’m on board.

What advice do you have for artists just starting out? You don’t have to take every piece of advice given to you. Listen, thank the advice giver and do what you feel is right for you. In the end, you have to be the type of artist you want to be. Keep pushing, and you’ll get there.

The Boston Theatre Conference focused on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? We have all of the right puzzle pieces, but we’re still figuring out how to put them together. The border pieces are in place, but we’re looking for those pesky squiggly pieces that go in the middle of the picture. The only way we’re going to finish the puzzle is by trying new things and learning each time a piece doesn’t quite fit perfectly.

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

 

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Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Jeff Adelberg

Who are you? Jeff Adelberg

What do you do? Lighting Designer, and I teach at Boston College

Where are you from originally? Washington, DC., and grew up in Maine.

How long have you been working in Boston? Since 2003

Why do you stay? I like it here.  But also, establishing myself as an artist has been exceptionally rewarding, but also the greatest challenge I’ve ever had.  I don’t know if I could start again from scratch somewhere else.  Good thing I like it here, no?

What’s your earliest theatre memory? Seeing my favorite babysitter in Annie when I was three years old.

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? Helping Darren Evans hang lights for a Zeitgeist Stage show.  I can trace a lot of my career (so far) back to that day.

What was your first job in the theatre? I was a technical intern at the Theatre at Monmouth in Maine for a summer just before college.  I had seen many shows there growing up, so it was very exciting to get to work there.  And 47 dollars a week!

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? Neapolitan pizza at Picco is my favorite thing.  Especially if it’s followed with one of their brownie sundaes.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Of course, home-made cookies.

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? This survey feels a little actor-centric.

If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? In Boston, many companies put a disporportionate amount of resources into marketing but not enough in to making great theatre.  If more went into production, wouldn’t the result be a better way to attract audiences?

What kind of theater excites you? Innovative, unusual, weird, funny, disturbing.

What advice do you have for artists just starting out? Be nice.

The Boston Theatre Conference focused on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? This community is capable of making lively & lush local theatre.  How can I help?

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

 

 

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#BTC11 Isn’t Over

The conference is over, sure. But the conversation, and the work, continues.

First of all, thank you to everyone who came to the conference, participated, ran a break out, sat on a panel, volunteered, worked (for months) on the committee and participated virtually. As you all know, a conversation started on Sunday, with Chef Lynch’s speech and the panel. And then on Monday afternoon, after some very productive lunch discussions, the conversation continued, and morphed into ideas that are going to be hashed out in working groups. And finally, Michael Maso provided some context, and inspiration, in his closing address.

Though I started at StageSource on February 7, I feel as though my first day was last Tuesday, the day after the conference. I was both exhausted and exhilarated. Mostly exhilarated. And the feedback I’ve been getting this past week has fueled more ideas.

We have started a StageSource blog where we will be posting some of the information from the conference (including reports from breakouts, my speech, Michael Maso’s speech and information about work groups). And we will continue to use the #BTC11 hashtag on Twitter to share ideas, or keep the conversation moving.

I am so thrilled to be working at StageSource during this exciting time. And I look forward to working with all of you.

Julie

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Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Marco Carneiro

Who are you? Marco Carneiro

What do you do? I’m the Managing Artistic Director of the Boston Stage Company and I work as a freelance director and administrator.

Where are you from originally? Milford, MA

How long have you been working in Boston? 3 years

Why do you stay? It’s where I feel most like me.

What’s your earliest theatre memory? Seeing a double billing of Curious George and Amelia Bedelia at the Majestic in kindergarten. Now that’s what I call a field trip!

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? It’s actually the same memory from above. Maybe that’s why I feel connected to Boston’s theatre scene.

What was your first job in theatre? I was a guest voice coach for Framingham State’s production of Godspell in 2007.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? Ethiopian at Addis Red Sea before our premiere of MyLicklider.com at the BCA last spring.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Cranberry-Almond KIND bars and double shots from Starbucks.

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? Usually, I wait until after.

If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? I would find a way to shorten the line to the ladies’ restroom.

What kind of theater excites you? Lately I’ve felt a strong interest in theater companies with resident artist ensembles. They train together before they conceive and create each piece, start to finish. While being proctored, each member can introduce, challenge or expand upon any idea in order to shape the piece entirely in the studio. The Satori Group in Seattle has found a lot of success with this.

What advice do you have for artists just starting out? Be patient, but look to make your own opportunities. With that said, ambition doesn’t call for ruthlessness.

The Boston Theatre Conference is focusing on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? I know I like this! Especially the local aspect.

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

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Theatre Hero Joyce Kulhawik Loves Boston

I LOVE BOSTON and have ever since I first arrived  here at age 17 to attend Simmons College. The only city I ever really knew before then was NYC. So I’ll never forget driving into Copley Square with my parents, looking around, and saying, “This is cute- where’s the city?” And they said, “You’re in it.” Little did I know that this small but resonant place would reveal itself to me in rich layers over the years. My whole professional life has grown as has the cultural life of this complex town. You might say we grew up together.

The first production I ever reviewed on television was MY FAIR LADY at the METROPOLITAN CENTER (now THE WANG) starring Rex Harrison in 1981!  And of course there were a handful of homegrown shows– SHEAR MADNESS at the CHARLES PLAYHOUSE welcomed me onto their stage and I raced back to the station barely making my nightly deadline. I remember THE LYRIC STAGE when it was tucked into an attic on Charles Street, so cramped a space, our camera and crew could barely fit without becoming part of the show. There was the beginning of the AMERICAN REPERTORY THEATER and its new Artistic Director–fresh from Yale and his famous student Meryl Streep– Robert Brustein; he invited all the critics for lunch at THE HARVEST in Cambridge to get acquainted and welcome us into what would become one of the foremost regional theaters in the country. THE HARTMAN THEATER hosted Jane Alexander and Tammy Grimes as they played Ibsen and Saw respectively; shortly thereafter, the witty Michael Maso arrived with the wonderful HUNTINGTON THEATRE CO.

I am amazed at how many people in this community have stayed close to those roots like me: Karen McDonald who sprang from THE NEXT MOVE and later blossomed at the A.R.T. Spiro Veloudos who roamed the ramparts of THE PUBLICK THEATRE and landed at the now-expanded LYRIC STAGE; Sandra Shipley whom I first saw at BOSTON SHAKESPEARE CO. back in 1981, who continues to resurface, most recently at the BCA.

We now have, despite the harsh climate (even harsher after Obama’s latest budget cuts) a thriving, variegated, homegrown theater scene with companies large, small, grand, modest, fringe and experimental fleshing out every corner of the city. I am so excited by the new Calderwood Pavilion, the Paramount, The Modern, and The Opera House which I remember when it was still encrusted with scary things and haunted with possibility. And I am still intrigued by the tiny, mysterious spaces where companies like WHISTLER IN THE DARK spin theater out of thin air.  Spring is in the air, and yes, I am still here looking toward the sun, very happy to take my seat in the dark waiting for something to sprout.

To learn more about Joyce Kulhawik visit her blog Spontaneous Acts of Joyce

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Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Robyn Linden

Who are you? Robyn Linden

What do you do? I’m the Vice President and Marketing Chair of the Small Theatre Alliance of Boston, and freelance marketer currently collaborating with New Exhibition Room, Vaquero Playground and Exquisite Corps Theatre.

Where are you from originally? Cleveland, Ohio

How long have you been working in Boston? Moved here summer of ’07 to transfer into Emerson, been active in the theatre scene since ’09.

Why do you stay? I have a lot of Boston pride, even if I refuse to root for the sports teams. There’s just so much to uncover in this town, from the history to the people to the arts and cultural events springing up all over the place.

What is your earliest theatre memory? I was in a summer camp production of Oliver in the 3rd grade. I was a pickpocket and got to sing the line “Would you rob a shop?” Not pretty in a midwestern accent…

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? Say what you will about the subway in the winter, but cheap, easy access to Logan airport is a wonderful thing. On my first visit to Boston I got off the plane, hit the Blue Line, switched to Green at Goverment Center, and finally emerged at street level at Boylston. Straight ahead were signs saying “Theatre District.” I knew I’d be staying.

What was your first job in theatre? I grew up doing musicals. So, rehearsing.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? My preferences change with each process. Depends on the local vending machine or convenience store. Lately I’m into Pretzel M&Ms. Where have those been all my life?!

If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? I want more “non-theatre-people” to walk in the door. There’s something for everyone in our local theatres, and I hope our audiences will expand so the work can reach farther and deeper into Boston.

What kind of theater excites you? I love the kind of theatre that requires me to take a deep breath. It can come from actors really listening to one another or from a specific and beautiful design element. The breath is cleansing and thrilling and unlike any other.

What advice do you have for artists just starting out? Connect. Don’t be afraid to say hello, reach out to someone online, have an informational coffee. We all have stories to share and have probably felt the same kinds of fear and timidity. If you want to get involved just speak up.

The Boston Theatre Conference is focusing on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? I find the sheer number of passionate theatre artists in our community totally thrilling. I hope the conference will start a conversation that will continue for a long time to come, fostering communication, collaboration and inspiration. We have a lot to talk about, and I’m very much looking forward to it!

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

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Me, Inc.

by Jeremy Johnson

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a Luddite.  I used to state this proudly but I’ve grown to feel a bit uneasy with this mindset as I look at the rapidly changing world around me.   Ironically, I got some quick background on the original tem by Googling it and reading up on the Wikipedia entry; “Luddites were a social movement of British textile artisans in the 19th century who protested, often by destroying mechanized looms, against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt were leaving them without work and changing their way of life.”

I know how they feel.

As much as I struggle to incorporate new technologies into my life, I find I have just as difficult time translating these new forms and resources into my career as a theatre artist.   I’m not completely lost in the cyber world; I enjoy having a Facebook account and I finally learned to text a while back.  I have never blogged or Tweeted anything and I don’t know what an App is.  I feel somewhat stuck in the middle of this new technological revolution; interested in some of the advancements but slow to follow the crowd and unsure of its uses.

I am currently reading Crush It! Cash in on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk and while the macho, frat-boy,  cyber-slang (“biz-dev” and “he’s totally killing it with his awesome content!”) make me a bit nauseous, the author still has some interesting points to make.    This is not the first book to tell me that I need to consider myself, my passions and my ideas as my own “personal brand”.  As distasteful as I find this idea I am attempting to let go of my judgments and preconceived notions while I absorb the reasoning.   Vaynerchuk posits that becoming an expert in your field and using every available form of social media can potentially lead to attracting the attention of those that can hire you and give you additional opportunities to “strengthen your brand equity.”

Thinking of myself in the same terms as a Nike sneaker or a bottle of Gatorade is a disturbing thought.  It feels as if there is an inordinate amount of focus on the packaging or exterior when dealing with ourselves in this way.   Have we moved from self-improvement to self-packaging?  Although the author stresses authenticity is that really possible with this approach?  At what point am I boxing myself in so that I’m only thought of as directing a certain type of play?  How does the artist use these forms of social media to support their career without oversimplifying their identity down to 140 characters?

As you can tell, I’ve struggled through this book, however I hit a paragraph that chilled me and is forcing me to reexamine my point of view; “If you’re not using Twitter because you’re in the camp that believes it’s stupid, you’re going to lose out.  It doesn’t matter if you think it’s stupid, it’s free communication.  That in and of itself has value and you should take advantage of it.”  It is easy for me to judge the communication and think it worthless or superficial but I am in a business that relies on communication of all kinds.

I am the first to admit that I have grown to love following my friends’ lives and careers through social media and I have seen many theatre companies embrace these tools as well.  I have read stories of artists documenting their work and reaching potential donors through YouTube.    In coming to terms with this new and intimidating technology I’ve decided that the best approach should be the creative one.  Rather than looking down my nose at these changes, how can I use these various tools in the ways that I choose to use them?  We are in an exciting and new landscape of no rules.  There is no “one way” to do anything and as artists it’s our responsibility to learn the new technologies in order to expand what they can do.   Up until now, I’ve feared that I have to change myself to meet the technology rather than change the technology to meet my own individual needs.

A quick look back at my predecessors is enough to get me thinking.   In 1813 in York, England three Luddites continued to fight progress and after killing a mill-owner were hanged in the public square.

Excuse me, I’m going to go check out that Tumblr website again.

About the author

Jeremy Johnson is a director living in Boston, MA.

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Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Kenny Steven Fuentes

Who are you? Kenny Steven Fuentes

What do you do? Act, direct, produce, blog and write plays. When I get bored, I found theatre companies.

Where are you from originally? Down South…of Boston. Brockton, MA to be exact. We killed Sacco and Vanzetti.

How long have you been working in Boston? 2.5 years.

Why do you stay? I’m a wanted man. I have the death sentence on twelve systems.

What is your earliest theatre memory? As a child, watching Charlotte’s Web from backstage at Wheelock Family Theatre.T

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? Technically the above, but I remember my first memory in Boston as an actor is of totally bombing at an audition for an Equity theatre. A month later, they called me and asked me to keep in touch. That meant a lot to me.

What was your first job in theatre? My first gig out of college was a small part at Wheelock, which seemed fitting. I looked like a smurf.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? Turkey Reuben at Francesca’s.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Beer. I mean… Not beer…

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? I try to have light meals. I eat as one would before competing in a sporting event.

If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? Bring down the price of a ticket. Even fringe theaters charge a lot.

What kind of theater excites you? I love watching a show where the actors are terrified and okay with it. That’s really the only truly honest acting.

What advice do you have for artists just starting out? If it scares the living crap out of you, you’re probably on the right track.

The Boston Theatre Conference is focusing on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? That’s one of the reasons I stay here. I really appreciate our focus on fostering growth of local art. Also, I have the death sentence on 12 systems.

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

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