Choices

by Marie Polizzano

When it came time for me to graduate from the Boston University School of Theatre in May 2007, it seemed like the only question to be answered was, “New York City or Los Angeles?” Most of my classmates were dividing themselves between those 2 cities to pursue their acting careers. LA for those interested in film/TV, and NYC for those interested in theatre.  It seemed like there were no other options. The idea of staying here hadn’t even entered my brain as a possibility.  Until one day in late August, when I had started packing up my apartment in preparation for moving to NYC in September with most of my other classmates. On this day, I got a call from the New Repertory Theatre, who offered me a part in their “On Tour” production of The Crucible.  I had auditioned for them earlier in the summer.  “Ok!” I said, “I’ll do it!”  I accepted the job and was thrust into rehearsals at the end of September.  We were touring schools by the second week in October, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience from which I learned so much. I got to work with an fantastic ensemble of talented actors, I was learning so much from the dialogue we had with our young audiences, and the gig paid well!

By the time The Crucible closed, my “network” of theatre people in Boston had grown tremendously. I had met and worked with many talented actors, and as a result met a lot of their fellow Boston actor/director/producer-friends.  I already felt like I was a part of a community.  One job led to another, which led to another, and before I knew it I had performed in 3 touring shows with New Rep, auditioned for at least a dozen other companies in town, and formed lots of close relationships with fellow actors, directors, administrators.  Because Boston is a smaller community of artists, I found it easy to build a network here. Everyone is so supportive of each other’s work, and you start to see the same faces at auditions time and time again. I loved how quickly I was able to feel integrated into the community of such talented artists here. And I am proud to say that I am a Boston actor.  In the 3 years since graduating, I’ve had the experience of working with vastly different companies on very diverse shows, I’ve earned both my SAG and AEA cards, and I feel very inspired and challenged by the work I’m able to do.

The fact that we are talking about a Slow Arts Movement is so exciting to me, and is already something that we are starting to do here in Boston without even realizing it, I think.  The Slow Arts Movement is a way for us to reach out to the community and help develop cultural taste and appreciation.  How can we create art that is sustainable,local, and accessible? How can we inform our citizens of why doing so is essential to our well-being?  I hope that by coming together to consciously implement this awareness in our city, we can deepen and make even more rich and lasting the wonderful arts community that is already here.

About Marie Polizzano

Marie is currently working with the Huntington Theatre Company through November 14th, performing in Circle Mirror Transformation as a part of the “Shirley, VT Plays Festival.” When that closes, she’ll have a short break before beginning rehearsals with Whistler in the Dark Theatre on The Europeans, which will open in February.

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  1. #1 by John J King on November 5, 2010 - 10:55 pm

    Marie I love this story. But I also worry about student diaspora. As a former local student who’s stuck it out here, what do you think the theatre community can be doing with the many local colleges to make sure Boston is on the list of options for graduates?

  2. #2 by serahrose on November 7, 2010 - 7:46 am

    I want to second the question John put forth. I graduated a decade ago from a local school and practically everyone I know left town for NYC, LA, or Chicago. I did too. But then I came back, and discovered a very large contingency of recent grads from my very school who have chosen to stay. Something in the last few years changed so they made a choice that was once considered very rare and, in my view, is now slightly less rare. I wonder what the change was…and how we keep it up so they keep staying.

  3. #3 by Marie on November 8, 2010 - 9:26 pm

    Yes. Good questions! I’m asking them too. I can say a few things that I think are changing in the community/helpful for our students:
    For one, the Boston Theatre Conference used to be held in the summertime, when all of our college students were out of town. A great thing about this year’s conference is that it is happening in February, which is the beginning of “decision time” for soon-to-be grads. I think we need to make sure that the theatre students in town are aware of the conference, and that they come check it out! I wish I had known about it when I was about to graduate.
    Something that was great at BU was that in the beginning of our final semester, our teachers started telling us a bit about what Boston has to offer. I was told about Stagesource and encouraged to become a member so that I could attend the annual audition in the summer right after graduation. I think we need to continue telling students about these opportunities, but I think we can start this conversation earlier in their academic career. Why not start telling students about these opportunities at the very least in year 3 or in the beginning of year 4, as opposed to at the beginning of their final semester…?
    Something else that proved helpful when it came time to decide where to go was listening to a few theatre artists from the community come and speak about their careers in Boston and how they got started. I think this needs to keep happening, too. I think that it would be helpful for students to hear from recent grads as well as seasoned Boston theatre professionals.
    I think that if teachers start a dialogue with students and remember to offer Boston as a viable and very valid and exciting option for where to go post-graduation, students will be more likely to consider staying here. I hope many of our students attend this year’s conference in February!

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