Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Independent Producer--Me?

There are a lot of back stories I could tell here. Like the one about 10-year-old me running upstairs after watching Newsies in the basement,  reenacting a singing, dancing, workers' strike to my reflection in the living room window. Something quaked my heart, and I promised myself that I would make music, theater, and dance a life-long venture.

Then there's the story about me feeling inspired to quit my status as a pre-Music-Dance-Theater major at BYU in favor pursuing the career of High School English Teacher for the stable, predictable lifestyle of glamour it offered. (That, and I had discovered I love writing!)

Another story involves me chatting with Marilyn Oblad, a descendent of Wilford Woodruff (an important Utah pioneer and leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.) Marilyn puts on a Wilford Woodruff show every year at her home (the historic Wilford Woodruff Farmhouse), with a very old script, a faithful cast, and no director. She invited me last year (2011) to meet with the players and see if I couldn't sprinkle on a little professionalism. Our summer interactions ended with an agreement that I'd write a new script, pull together a new cast, and produce/direct a new show ready to premiere Summer 2012.  And wonder of wonders, here I am doing just that.

And then this one time (four weeks ago) I was sitting in a car telling my friend, Mariah, how ridiculous it is that I stack up my life with piles of little projects in an attempt to be a teacher, a dancer, a graphic designer, a sociologist, a choreographer, a singer/song-writer, an author, a director, and a stay-at-home-mom all at the same time. 
"I feel like I'm stuck in this mediocre limbo between amateur and professional," I said, "because I'm only giving hobby time to each one of these. Maybe if I just focus on one area, and try to excel, I might actually become an influential voice in the artistic community."

"Well, why not combine your hobbies?" she answered. "You could keep writing plays and producing them--like what you're doing with this Wilford Woodruff play."
[Aside: Several months ago, the idea of producing a play in a rented performance space sounded outrageous to me. I had always assumed that that was inevitably too expensive. But this spring, I helped book performance, studio, and meeting spaces for an artist and dancer's conference (Artist, Interrupted). In doing so, I discovered a couple of nice black-box theaters in Salt Lake that rent out at very reasonable rates. I was also inspired when I learned that an old high school classmate of mine, Hampton Dohrman, now makes a profession of helping people find alternative performance spaces for cheap.]

Mariah was right. Why not flambeau all my interests into one pot and call it theater? From hence, I summon forthish my future monsters! Musicky comedies about social disparities, historicals, gregoricals, phantasmagoricals, passion plays, and here and there a minimalism that ends with an interpretive dance, etc.

1 comment:

  1. Karen, you are fabulous!!! You will be amazingly successful in all of your endeavors!