Posts Tagged Boston Playwrights’ Theatre

Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Danielle Leeber

Who are you? Danielle Leeber

What do you do? Producing Artistic Director of Boston Actors Theater

Where are you from originally? Hudson, MA

How long have you been working in Boston? 8 years

Why do you stay? The community here is “real” people say what they mean and like to hear the truth. They are passionate about performing arts and the artists around them. Not to mention the ton of talent here!

What’s your earliest theatre memory? Performing as part of the Hudson Drama Workshop when i was 7. They were great!

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? Seeing Phantom of the Opera at the Wang when I was 10.

What was your first job in theatre? Actress

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? Dim sum from the Super 88 near Playwrights’ Theatre!

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? anything i have time to grab really

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? When I used to perform, I never ate before I went on. After though, I would go to town!

What kind of theater excites you? I love working on new works. Knowing you are creating something new for audiences and helping a playwright get their voice heard is priceless. Since all BAT’s new work is by Massachusetts playwrights it also helps in giving the state a chance at more exposure!

What advice do you have for artists just starting out? You have to love what you do. If it doesn’t come from the heart it won’t ring true and truth is what Boston is all about.

The Boston Theatre Conference is focusing on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? I think that’s great! Running a company who’s mission it is to support local artists of all kinds I see the amount of talent here. They deserve to be showcased and focused on!

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

 

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Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Dawn M. Simmons

Who are you? Dawn M. Simmons

What do you do? I work at StageSource, I run a theatre company (New Exhibition Room with A. Nora Long), I write, I direct. Stuff like that.

Where are you from originally? Buffalo, NY.  That’s right!  You don’t even know what snow and cold is!

How long have you been working in Boston? 7 years

What’s your earliest theatre memory? Commercials for “Cats” on WPIX.  Maybe Seasame St. On Ice, before that.

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? Three of Cups at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.  I was the ASM.  I was good! Oh, except that time when I was late with the food for the dinner scene.  That was not so good.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? U Burger burgers if I’m at BPT.  Onion rings at the Parish Cafe’ if I’m over near the Factory Theatre.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Anything crunchy if I’m the director.  Anything chewy if I’m the writer.

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? I don’t tend to be onstage, but I like to wait until after the show starts to eat.  I have sympathy nervous stomach.

The Boston Theatre Conference is focusing on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? I think that’s great! You probably want to hear more.  I love that the people who work here feel like family to me.  Especially since mine is miles away.  I love the Fringe and Small theatre scene.  NXR had a lot of fun with them this summer.

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

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What Do We Have Against Community?

By John J King

Say the words “Community Theatre” to a theatre professional and you’ll often get a Pavlovian eye-roll. For some, there are stereotypes associated with the phrase and most of them aren’t good.

In the midst of starting my own company, thinking in terms of marketing, I found myself thinking, “I want to sell this as a community theatre, but without using those words!”

But what’s wrong with Community Theatre?

At a workshop I attended, Marsha Norman said something that has stuck with me ever since: “A play is a community; every night, the act of theatre creates a community between the story, the artists, and the audience.”

That sense of communion, of theatre as a social act, is what excites me most about the art. It is a shared experience with others, and shared experiences are what blur the differences between people, erasing sects and creating communities.

In light of the Slow Food theme of the upcoming Boston Theatre Conference, how do we embrace the virtue of Community Theatre? A few thoughts that I feel particularly match up with the analogous slow food movement:

  • a theatre in San Francisco involved their audience in the selection of an upcoming season. The company picked 10 plays, each of which were given public readings throughout the year. At the end of the season the audience voted, and the top four plays were selected for the company’s next season. Not only did the audience feel engaged with the work, but the theatre had a chunk of eager audience ready to purchase tickets!
  • We talk about the student diaspora of Boston, with many fleeing to NYC and L.A. We need to “cultivate taste for locally grown” theatre while these young artists are here so they have reasons to stay. How? Internships, workshops, readings at the schools, open rehearsals just for students: all of these are free and relatively easy to coordinate.
  • Collaborations between groups give audiences new and different ways to engage with local theatre. Good examples that have already taken place: FeverFest; The Shirley, VT Festival; Emerging America Festival; Orfeo Group’s COMPLETE WOWS(A) which incorporated local bands and performers as opening acts.

To me, “Community Theatre” is the highest ideal one can strive for. At worst, the phrase may be redundant, because theatre is community. There is no theatre without community.

What excites me about the Slow Arts theme of the Boston Theatre Conference is its implicit assumption that Boston has everything it needs. We do! The Slow Arts movement encourages us to celebrate and better share with our communities what is already here, to create more opportunities for the shared experiences that enrich, deepen, and build communities.

I look forward to the many possibilities of communion that the Boston Theatre Conference will bring.

John J King is a Boston-based playwright who’s work has been produced by New Exhibition Room, Mill 6 Collaborative, and the Orfeo Group.  His new full-length BEAR PATROL will premiere at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, March 3 – 20, 2011.  www.J-RexPlays.com

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