MLM: How long have you been in Boston?
MLM: Where are you from?
MLM: Why did you decide to stay in Boston?
MLM: How long have you been at StageSource?
MLM: How did you get into theatre?
MLM: What do you think we can do better to keep theatre growing and moving forward here?
The other thing I think is really important is to see shows. Even though it can be exhausting, and yeah you don't want to see everything, but I think find two or three shows a month that really interest or excite you, and then see it! And then get to know those people. Get to know the company. It's something we say to college kids all the time, but there's no reason we can't continue to do that as we mature in our careers. And we should keep exposing ourselves to different artists or learn I thought I like that but I don't. And I know it's tough, you're working, and you really want a day off, and you don't want to go to the theatre, but sometimes you have to push yourself. And see things locally. I used to really want to get to see things more in New York, or Philly, or get out to the West Coast and see what's going on there. But now I try to make sure that I see what's going on here. It's a way to keep growing and find out what your climate is. Especially if you want to start a company of your own. It's a way to find out what's missing. Certainly, my hope is that we're not all trying to do the same thing. So find that thing you're not seeing that you want to see and bring that to the city.
MLM: What do you think we do better here in Boston than in other places?
If there was some way to take that and bottle it and make it a big marquis thing where people came in and we had a whole week of ten minute festivals we would get so much attention. If there was some way to make it pull focus to Boston or use that as a gateway to something else to exploring new writers or directors, if it became more than it is it could be great for us. There are so many people involved, it's low cost, low commitment, it creates buzz. We need to find a way to push that further or make it our thing. And starting there is a great place. The ten minute festivals are a great way to discover new talent. And once we discover that talent we need to hire that talent.
We're also an excellent city for training. We have some of the best colleges and universities and theatre programs in the country. And we need to keep those people here. And find a way to make that training accessible to the artists we have working here.
MLM: Where do you want to see Boston theatre go in the next 5 years?
The small companies need to make noise, and get rowdy. And that's what my company New Exhibition Room is hoping to do. And there are so many other small companies that are starting to do that now.
MLM: Yeah we are starting to say we're here, and we're doing good work, and exciting work and brave work. So talk a little about STAB. We're a little STAB ignorant at the CoLab and we want to be more informed because that's the community we're entering into.
A bunch of people and a bunch of companies showed up for the first couple of meetings and then we broke down into various committees, steering committee, marketing committee, education committee all kinds of stuff. We put up the first FeverFest to see how we all work together, see if we can create something and then went back to what we wanted the organization to become. Was it just going to be an organization that produced FeverFest? Or was it going to be the kind of organization that would do marketing, that would do education and outreach that would do a shared storage/ stock facility? And we decided yeah we want to keep moving in this direction of an alliance.
MLM: So where is STAB now in their process?
MLM: So how did you get involved in small theatre?
DMS: Editing the Stagepage for StageSource. We have the spotlight article that we try to use to focus on newer companies and small companies that are just starting out and give focus to them, and the community theatres as well. We have a huge community theatre scene here, and lot of really great actors are coming out of community theatres. So I think editing the Stagepage put a lot of these companies on my radar and so if I see them and I say "oh this show seems interesting" and I go out and see them and then if I fall in love I will chat a company up.
And I would think starting working with the SLAMs. Directing for those. And meeting people who are like "oh, you're a fun director, and I have his company and why don't you come out and talk to us." And just meeting people that way.
I don't know how common it is anymore, but I just go out and pound the pavement. I meet people and I shake hands and talk to people. And sometimes it feels like gosh I'm always "on" but in the end the, people that I really really enjoy make it worth it.
MLM: That's great. I mean everybody knows who you are here in theatre, you know, you're Dawn Simmons! And you know who everyone is. And we have a lot of respect for you and for that. And you remember who people are, it's your business but you make it personal. It's what you do and it's what you love and we all get that. And when you need something, or you want to know something, and you don't know who to talk to you know you go to Dawn.
And there is a sense of community and family here. I know there are other "theatre towns" but I wonder if it feels the same. Especially with the fringe companies and small companies. I see people and companies going out to support each other and people know each other and are genuinely happy for other people's successes and it feels good.
MLM: That's what I love about theatre here. I went to a really New York centered acting program and I struggled with that. I wasn't sure New York was the right fit for me. Certainly in New York and LA, if you go to those places to make your living as an actor you have to like be out for blood. It's all about you and making it work and focusing on yourself and your career and stopping at nothing. And that's great for some people, if you can do that more power to you. I can't. I got involved in theatre in to gain community and so that's where it lives for me. I like that I can be here and appreciate that other people are doing good work. Not that you don't have that moment sometimes where you think "ugh, I could have done that so much better" but most of the time you can just be happy that other people are really producing great stuff.
MLM: Yeah, I grew up here and just in the time I've been involved in theatre there has been so much growth here. There are so many companies that just didn't exist when I was in middle school and high school here. And it is really exciting to see theatre grow up here. I hope that we can keep growing in the same way we have in the last ten years.
MLM: Yeah, that makes us really nervous, we're getting more buzz than we ever expected to at this point. I mean when we found out you were reading our blog we were like "Oh my God Dawn Simmons is reading our blog!" Hopefully we can back it up and our first show doesn't suck! People are paying attention.
MLM: So what is next for New Exhibition Room?
MLM: Awsome! You can't go wrong with a Ukulele and tap dancing.
MLM: That's really exciting
MLM: Well thank you for having lunch with me!
MLM: You did great! Thank you so much.
So there you have it folks. Just another day in the life of the CoLab. Many many thanks to Dawn for sitting down with me and sharing her passion for Boston theatre with me, and now you. Look for New Exhibition Room's next show Candyland later this summer and keep reading, who knows who we'll talk to next!