I'm leaving this week looking at myself differently than I did entering it.
I've enjoyed my involvement with theatre in large part because it's allowed me the opportunity to work with and observe some great creative talents making magic. I talk about that a lot on here because it fascinates me, it's something I never could do (the performance/creative stuff) and I like being around those who can and getting a front seat or even behind the scenes view of the creative process. I've seen myself as audience, in a sense, observer maybe is a better word, even of shows during which I'm backstage working. I like being near people I admire and this year has given me a chance to do a lot of that and expanded the universe of artists and directors and actors and choreographers that I get to observe.
But Monday a silly little Facebook post started a week in which I came to understand that I'm not audience anymore. My friend Jen listed all the projects her "friends in the performing arts community" are working on in the coming weeks. It was a wonderful list, really, and she tagged the people responsible for all the happenings in her post -- directors, musical directors, artistic directors.......and me. And surprised myself because I didn't see that inclusion as odd. I had begun to feel like I belonged in that "performing arts community".
I'm not a director of any one show, and am not really an Artistic Director in the sense that other theater companies use the term. Usually that is a paid position for the person responsible for the day to day, week to week operations of the theater. But this year, as Brunswick Little Theatre has moved into a place of its own and we've had to make that work and fill the space, I've come really close to filling that role in all practical terms. One of the new friends I've made recently is Steve Vernon, Artistic Director of Big Dawg Productions, the group putting on The Hermit of Fort Fisher in our space right now. He's the first friend I've made solely because of our common ground in theater, and it's made me realize I have my own real estate there, in that artistic world. We spent an hour before the opening show of Hermit talking shop. Sure, he is way more experienced than I and we both understand that, but we spoke as equals in the sense that we are both doing the same job essentially and he respects the way I've handled my challenges as much as I respect the work he's doing with his own organization. A year ago, Hell, two weeks ago, I would have entered that conversation as a pure learning opportunity, a chance to hang out with "those creative-types". But Friday night I WAS one of those people, one of a community of very different personalities all joined by a desire to bring the arts to others.
I've finally accepted that that's now a part of who I am. I organize. I facilitate. I make things happen. But that IS "arts". In a simple example, I figured out how to add enough chairs to fit 106 patrons into our theatre space while preserving a center aisle that the director wanted to use as a part of the show's blocking. In a more extensive example I oversaw the transformation of an abandoned church and school into a performing arts complex. That property will see auditions for a youth musical and rehearsals for an all-ages cast Christmas show and a children's theatre workshop and host over 100 souls attending a play.......TODAY. In Southport. In Brunswick County. And while it took the efforts of a lot more than just myself to make this happen, I am very proud of my own role. No theater in Wilmington is doing more. We, we in the Brunswick Little Theatre, are contributing as much as any group in the area to making the arts available to our community. And if the sell-out crowds are any indication, the community appreciates it.
While I got great joy out of being able to see up close and personal others making magic, I finally feel like I can say "Ta-Da" myself.