Posts Tagged Candelaria Silva-Collins
by Candelaria Silva-Collins, copyright 2011
The audience is there, we just have to build it. I will share a few ways that I have built appreciators In both my dedication to home-cooking/breaking bread with others and in bringing people to theater.
Invite people – consistently, frequently, in a variety of ways.
I invite people to meals cooked by me at my home regularly. A lot of the invitees have been surprised because they are not my friends, they are acquaintances. Nearly everyone comes.
I never go to theater without a companion – from performances at Huntington Theatre, by Company One, Wheelock Family Theatre, Speak Easy Stage Company and the African-American Theatre Festival (to name but a few) – I bring someone with me.
I share recipes and theatre reviews & information both informally through emails and more formally through blog posts. If I like something, if I find something provocative or interesting, I share it.
Throw the net widely/reach beyond usual comfort zone
When I was Director of ACT Roxbury, I informed broad networks of people about our events. I didn’t presume to know who would or would not be interested in our events and initiatives. I didn’t let geography hamper me. So I invited Roxbury residents, residents of surrounding communities and people in the metropolitan area. I participated in the Multicultural Committee of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to inform visitors about the plays we produced and the Roxbury Film Festival, for example.
Organizations like StageSource, Underground Railway Theater, and Bank of America Celebrity Series were open enough to have events at Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall, coming outside of their usual territory to meet the audiences we attracted. Similarly, we hosted events featuring Roxbury-based artists in other communities including National Heritage Museum (Lexington) and Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (Boston seaport).
There is strength and expanded capacity in collaborating with other organizations on joint projects and in promoting each other’s events. No organization is ever the only game in town. No organization ever has an exclusive hold on or right to an audience. People like variety, choice and to try new theater and food on for size. We have to make it as effortless as possible for this to happen.
Educate and Nurture Future Audiences
Exposing children to well-prepared food and excellent theater prepares them to get hooked on these kinds of experiences. We have to create future audiences and artists by going into the schools and community centers where young people are.
And don’t forget adults. Go to where adults are – community organizations, churches, gathering spots like restaurants, hair salons, and the Super Stop & Shop in the South Bay Mall, for example. There are communities of seniors who would relish the opportunity to attend theater. (I work with Door2Door to the Arts to bring senior citizens to arts and cultural events using the vans that were previously mainly used to transport them to doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping. In one year, we have brought seniors to nearly 50 events!)
In addition to the pay-what-you-can performances, ticket give-ways, discounts to community organizations, and ticket discounts through Bostix, we need to empower venues and staff to aggressively market unsold seats in the moment.
We need to pretend that no one knows who we are and what we do and inform them through public theater in places like South Station and Copley Square.
Food and theater connect people in a world where many people are becoming more comfortable with the remotely connecting through electronic portals than face-to-face. We all need food, we all need art in real time and actual space.
by Candelaria Silva-Collins, copyright 2011
A good meal, like a good play, requires the best ingredients no matter how straight-forward or complex it is. As an appreciator of live theater and home-cooked, food, I see the connection between these two life-affirming, life-sustaining entities.
Food, slow food, lovingly home-cooked (and locally source when possible) requires a lot of collaborative efforts. I cook with the memories, cooking lessons, and history of meals tasted and meals cooked coursing through my hands. I learned to cook by being in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother. I refined those lessons through pouring over cook-books, recipes, cooking shows and videos. I count on the farmers and their staff, the grocery stores and farmer’s markets to bring that food to me. I rely on the hungry mouths of children, husband, friends and family to appreciate my artistry. My cooking means nothing without appreciative (or even just hungry) mouths to eat it. There has often been theatricality in the rooms where I’ve dined, especially with family.
Theater, too, is a collaborative art. It springs from the imagination of the playwright and all of those who nurtured a love for language and stories in that playwrights’ mind. The playwright needs the director and stage manager and crew and the actors, of course, the actors who are the spice and heat and utensils that bring the play to life. An unseen play is an empty vessel indeed. Theater needs audiences to experience, appreciate (or denigrate) the food it provides.
Meals and theater spring from, reinforce and invigorate community. Food is sustenance, a necessity that can be elevated to an art and is most special when delivered with love. Theater is sustenance, necessary to souls and intellect. Both are repositories of history and hope and visions for the future.
Great food and theater are cultural mirrors that yearn beyond the particular to achieving universality.
In this age of multiple appointments, rushing and busyness, quick food and quick entertainment have more adherents, it seems, then slow food and real theater. Yet there has always been and will continue to be a desire for food and theater that have been well-crafted. This desire is not just the province of afficiandos – it is bubbling throughout society.
About the author: