I'm applying for a fellowship that would set me on a course to run a theater. More on the stakes of this later, but I wanted to share what I wrote. Let me know what you think.
I learned three important things from President Reagan growing up.
1. Just say no.
2. Ketchup is a vegetable.
3. The arts aren’t important.
I mean, isn’t that the reason why he continually proposed drastic funding cuts to the NEA every year of his presidency?
I wonder if this laissez-faire view of the importance of the arts is the reason why so many young people (in this context, under the age of 35) seem to have no concept of the magic of theater. One of the things I am most passionate about – and one of the issues that inspires me to become an artistic director – is trying to lure a younger audience to the theater. I am a member of “Generation X”, and I am quite confused as to why my generation and the generation below us – the “Millenials” – do not consider theater as an entertainment option. It is vital that we attract the next generation of theatergoers, but it is equally important that we tell inclusive stories that do not alienate the folks who are already supporting us. I believe we can – and, more importantly, we have a responsibility – to tell stories that speak to a diverse audience.
I consider myself a storyteller. Most of my work in this medium has been on stage, but I have always been interested in the entire process, from the first words written on the page to the removal of the final set piece. I have worked in almost every area of the theater. I’ve made it a point to speak to the artistic directors, educational directors and dramaturgs at the places I’ve worked at, to get a feel for their organizations and what they do. I frequently volunteer to be a reader at auditions, and I carefully watch casting directors and directors, and ask questions when appropriate. I’ve sat on play selection committees and witnessed the give-and-take that goes into putting a season together. All of my experience has been in preparation to one day become an artistic director and lead an organization of my own.
There are other reasons why I would eventually like to run a theater: I enjoy telling stories, and I believe that I can do it more effectively from an administrative post than on stage; I think that my background and my experience give me a unique perspective; I view running a theater as the ultimate artistic challenge. I believe that I have a good skill set for this position, too. I am hard working, a good listener, and I am ready to learn.
I realize that it will be next to impossible to maintain the present status of my acting career if I am chosen as the recipient of this fellowship. I firmly believe, however, that I can continue to pursue local acting opportunities. I also hope to continue pursuing my craft as a director in smaller projects around the city. Learning the ropes and absorbing the lessons taught to me by the (theater company) staff, however, would absolutely be my first priority.
Hey, maybe we’ll all get lucky: I’ll land a commercial, make millions, and fund the theater myself. In our present political climate, that may be what it takes. And I’m committed to making it work.