A couple of years back an actress by the name of Laura Ramadei asked to meet with me at a diner to pick my brain about producing and fundraising. I accepted and we had a great talk. I could see in that conversation that while there are a number of reasons Not to Start a Theatre Company, Ms. Ramadei had some great reasons for starting one. Since that conversation over cheese fries she has connected some amazing Indie All star talent and I am honored to have her as a guest blogger today. Take it away Laura!
In his memoir, Act One, Moss Hart recounts the details of his life in the theater, and his experience as a young playwright. It's a tender and detailed history of legend in the making, written by someone who seems to understand that, well...legend doesn't exist. Or if it does, it's composed of tiny moments of chance, coincidence, hard work and maybe a little magic that makes up the story of someone's life. When I read it, I got bogged down by the chapters that he spends at a summer camp doing amateur theater for no one of importance, or the details he provides about what kinds of sandwiches his mentor and ultimate collaborator, George Kaufman, eats during writing breaks. Wisely, Hart's memoir isn't about genius in the making. It's about awkward pauses and first impressions and hard work and ultimately the tiny chain reactions that create impact. I found myself wanting to skip the nitty gritties and get to the part where the world unfolds to him and all of his dreams come true, as they are destined to. Likewise, I think we all get impatient with our own lives, our own careers, all of the tiny irritating moments that we can only pray will add up to a life that's legendary.
So. I'm Laura Ramadei, the actress from that last paragraph and a founding member of the company Lesser America. We're in our first season, and about to present our second show, called Too Much Too Soon, an apt sequel to the show that brought us company members together in the first place. Too Little Too Late, the original, featured the work of some incredible writers who, though only just "emerging" during the run of the show last year, are already building memoir-worthy careers and taking over networks no one - even those of us touting their promise - could have anticipated: Lucy Alibar (Sundance screenwriting award), Bekah Brunstetter (Be A Good Little Widow), Sam Forman (Moscows of Nantucket), Amy Herzog (After the Revolution, 4000 Miles), Liz Meriwether (No Strings Attached, New Girl - FOX), and Daniel Talbott (Slipping, Yosemite, Theater Hall of Fame Award). This time around, on Too Much Too Soon, we feature an all new group of writers, similarly showcased in a 90 minute evening of theater - Nikole Beckwith (EWG at the Public, Huffington Post), Nick Jones (LCT3's The Coward), Dean Imperial, Emily Schwend (Juilliard; Splinters, Bloom), Melissa Ross (Thinner Than Water - LAByrinth), and Ken Urban (The Happy Sad, Sense of an Ending).
At the moment, we're in the thick of it, and the day to day grind of producing independent theater is anything but glamorous. Who knows what ripples this show and this company and these artists will make in the immediate future and in years to come. But for now we're having fun, hungrily devouring original works, rehearsing in a basement between day jobs, cursing all of the money we're not getting paid to do this. Just a few weeks ago another Lesser American and I scrubbed mold in the theater laundry room for a solid four hours. That's a fair chunk of my life I'll never get back. But maybe... Eventually... When I'm sitting down to write my memoir, whether it's read by hundreds of thousands of people or no people or my grandchildren, I might find a little joy in the scrappy details that were my history in the making. I hope your lives and careers are legendary too.
Oh and hey come see the show and be a part of what we're trying to do. You can find info at lesseramerica.com, and buy your tickets at lesseramerica.com/box-office. Email [email protected] for all other inquiries. We'd love to hear from ya.