This week's guest blog comes from Laura Ramadei of Lesser America. Check out her observations after running her company for a year. Take it away Laura!
Another time that I guest blogged for One Producer in the City I wrote about the theater company I co-founded, Lesser America, attempting a heartfelt observation of what it is to produce theater - the reward versus the work. How we hope to become legendary and don't realize as we're barely surviving in this business that we are in fact crafting our memoirs. And I thought about this blog post and whether there was something similarly grand to be discovered - what can I observe about the process of our current production that provides a broad, ideally inspiring, reflective perspective. Maybe I was even trying to think about how to talk about this show in a way that would obviously make the reader hurry to the theater. Because I desperately want everyone I know, and everyone who reads this - to come see our next show, American River. I can always say "this isn't one to miss" but I truly feel something incredible is brewing in rehearsals.
But a pitch wasn't emerging. I couldn't pin point why I'm so deeply enthusiastic about this show in particular, or what its primary selling point is. Probably because it isn't a name or a pitch or a spin on the production that gets me excited to sell tickets...when I think about this project, what I feel is gratitude. We're doing a play about love and sex and meth and the horrible things people do to each other in the pursuit of the American Dream, and we're having a fat blast with it. And though previous productions have been wonderful to work on, I didn't always have the ability to enjoy the juicy part of the process, the creative part of the process - the artist fun part of it all. Because there was so much to be done and so much overwhelming stress associated with the production process outside of the rehearsal room.
When we started Lesser America, it was rough. We "knew" what we were doing but hadn't done it yet. Every obstacle we encountered was The End of the World. We killed ourselves and each other a little bit in the process. ...And we did it. We made it through. What's more is we made great theater - we developed an audience and sold tickets and got the good reviews and were even named 2011 People of the Year by nytheatre.com.
Something we were doing was resonating. But it wasn't until recently that it occurred to me that it wasn't as hard anymore. Somewhere along the line, without realizing, we started to find a stride. When we formed the company, we saw beyond the early productions to the family we hoped to create, to the reputation we wanted to foster and to a work process that was entirely our own - that reflected our friendships. We wanted to express our taste and abilities, but furthermore to develop a way of working that was implicitly fun and creative in its own right. Which is no small task - when you're down to the wire and you're still trying to figure out how to beg/borrow/steal a crucial set piece and one of your actors is sick during tech and you haven't slept this week - you're not really thinking about "what can I do to make this fun right now"... But once you learn to get your ducks in a row you find a dynamic that embraces the chaos, and anticipates the problems so that as a team of producers you get each other's backs and, by way of seeming magic, enjoy yourselves.
I truly feel that the greatest asset a small theater company can have is family. My favorite theater companies are as much defined by their families - their communities of artists - as they are by their work. The home they've built for their artists are as much a priority as the product they're selling to their audiences. And I'm sure it's true in my family as well as yours that you can't say thank you enough. So. I just wanted to say a fat thank you to the people I call my home. And thanks to you too for all that you do, making our family possible.
Thank you Laura! Be sure to check out Laura's next show HERE.
P.S.- There are still seats left for the next Finding Center.