Recently I was asked by my dad (the chief reporter of our monthly newsletter form ACT 1) to sit down with Chris (my husband and tech director) and make a list of all the locations we have performed in and all the shows we have performed in our short history.
We have performed in eight locations – some inside and some outside – and produced 43 shows with 533 roles played by more than 400 actors, musicians, and crew. After figuring that data out I asked Chris if he felt overwhelmed or terrified. He said a little of both. We have recently been told by our property manager that we are not going to be able to work in this space. They are turning these warehouses and apartments (in our case, office space and the actor’s loft/greenroom) into studio apartments: gentrification Sumner style.
We are overwhelmed because we have accomplished all this with a completely volunteered staff. We have been so incredibly blessed with an abundance of gifted actors, talented artists, brilliant and collaborative designers, and tech crew. Our acting company rangers in age from 5-76. And while there are some challenges with that depending on what project we are working on, it allows for inherent partnering of generations and enriches the vibrant family culture of our theatre company.
We are terrified because we are in a huge transition requiring strategic space needs and money. We started a monthly support drive last month to sustain the Actor’s Loft upstairs. This was great timing because we are going to need financial support more than ever as we look to relocate and continue the level of excellence we are committed to. This space where we have been five years has worked, but only because of the genius of my husband and the grace of our casts and patrons. For instance, the audience has one bathroom – outside in another building!
My husband has turned a garage into a beautiful workable black box intimate theatre experience. We want to stay in east Pierce County and there aren’t a lot of buildings, so we are diligently working with property managers and trusting that the funding and space will be there.
It’s scary. Turning 56, I officially have 40 years in regional theatre in Washington, as an actor, writer, teacher, and director. Chris has 35 years of technical theatre experience. We are not only receiving financial support from our patrons, but their written thanks for the work we do, and, in some cases, stories of where our company members have landed after college. Many are in non-profits and educational communities sharing their performing arts.
I feel like we are Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland looking for a barn to put on a show, but I also know that if anyone can do it, together with our community, we can!
I would be remiss not to urge you to consider becoming a monthly donor to ACT 1 if you haven’t already done so. Please visit the Actors Loft page for more details.
The stage is a magic circle where only the most real things happen, a neutral territory outside the jurisdiction of Fate where stars may be crossed with impunity. A truer and more real place does not exist in all the universe.