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From Emma – Making Room for the Art

September 20, 2016

[Re-posted from August, due to internet monkeys]

We’re coming down from a whirlwind and wonderful summer that started with our adventures in Europe and finished with a great month of summer education programming, with a lot of planning for the future in between. Now, it’s officially the second half of August, and we’re most of the way through our transitioning-into-the-season season, and maybe it’s the lack of gelato from earlier this summer, but it feels like a strange transition this year.

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The view from Budapest, Hungary. Mmm, gelato…

The entire trip was great, and Hungary was a great experience (good friends, good food, entirely too much beautiful architecture), but our time in Italy in particular was an incredible gift. During the bulk of the year, there’s so much split attention between this administrative task and that rehearsal, this education work and that development work, and it’s hard to be truly present; but when we were hanging out with our good friends from Teatro Potlach for twelve days… well, it wasn’t any less divided, and it was still hard to be fully present, but the focus was entirely on our work as artists. We would sweat it out in workshops all day, listen (via interpreter, who was a godsend) to presentations by our peers, watch shows (ranging from comedy to melodrama) each night, and further personal and professional dialogue amongst the members of our international theatre artist family (including a 3am jam session that I won’t soon forget). To be able to focus solely on that work – the work of the artist, in all of its many forms – was a luxury and a dream.

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The view from Fara Sabina, Italy. There was also gelato.

We have awesome plans for the coming year (and beyond – stay tuned later this season for the unveiling of our next community-based work, which will premiere in 2019) that we’re all eagerly anticipating. Jp’s vision for the company is strong, lucid, and exciting, and we’ll be sinking our teeth into some rich artistic material in a very satisfying way. But we’ve definitely woken up from the dream and are back in the land of graphic design, website maintenance, corporate development, curriculum development, combing through schedules, long strings of emails, and going home each day feeling slightly fuzzy-brained with all of the details.

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The view from Bethlehem, PA, USA – messy desk and no gelato in sight.

So how do you balance it? How do you make sure that there’s still room for the art? How do you support the “real work” you’re doing while not losing sight of that “real work”? (Musical theatre nerd moment – Sondheim does a great job playing with some of this in song form with “Putting It Together” from Sunday in the Park with George) There’s no good answer, of course, except to keep that question present in our minds and hope that remembering to ask the question is enough to keep life in balance.

At any rate, we’re in variable states of vacation for the next week or two, after which we’ll be heading full tilt back into the melée of busy season. There will be periods where we’re swamped with logistics and meetings, and glorious moments where we get to “just do art”. Both are crucial to making the theatre run. Check out the new season details listed on the website (and keep an eye out for brochures next week) – we’re honored and grateful for the opportunity to do this work, bumps and all, and the opportunity to share it with you.

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