WARNING: The opinions expressed below are DEFINITELY those of The CoLab Theatre Company! Learn more at www.colabtheatre.org!

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Hits and Misses of 2010

As our readers know, we're not a typical theatre blog. We pride ourselves on being a little less polished and a little more honest. When we decided to write a end of the year reflection, we decided it would be imperative that we write honestly and express our true feelings, good and bad.

So with that, we give you our end of the year reflections and say to the theatre community (Both local and national):

What worked? What didn't? And what can we learn from this year's hits and misses to do even better this coming year?



Mill 6's T Plays - There is no shortage of 10 minute play festivals and competitions in Boston. After a certain point, it's really easy to phone these projects in and use the medium as a low investment cash cow. However, Mill 6 took the medium and spins it around in the way that only Boston could: Bitching about the T. This year's T plays were more solidly written and tightly directed than any other ten minute play festival I've seen from the scene yet. Special mention must go to the devastatingly sweet and sincere performance of Nate Gundy in John J. King's M. Riverside.

11:11's Her Red Umbrella - This show felt like a real underdog. It was a real romantic comedy, put up on stage, acted and directed really well. This is Robyn Linden's directorial breakout and the visual and atmospheric concepts she put together (with the help of a very good lighting designer and a local up and coming singer/songwriter) as well as the genuine performances she created with her cast made for a sweet and satisfying evening.


The ensemble of Bad Habit's Durang/Durang - They were tight, they were funny, and they had their timing down pat. They moved fluidly between different kinds of roles and had a really good knowledge both of the parody style necessary in the first act and the more absurd comedy designated in the second. It was a large ensemble cast that felt like a small tight knit group. It's a hard show to do really well, but this group of actors definitely got the job done.


Bevin O'Gara for Holland Productions' Melancholy Play - This is the only piece I've seen from Bevin, though being a small-time actor here in town, I'm familiar with her as the Artistic Associate at the Huntington (AKA the screener for their auditions....my Pirates audition definitely could have gone better). This play (and Sarah Ruhl in general) is hard to tackle. There are so many places where the surreal or absurd aspects of her stories can go horribly wrong. But Bevin had a clear mastery of the script, the cast, and the designers to create a happy-go-lucky world full of wistfulness and almonds. Everything was done with a light, whimiscal, but defined touch. The comedy was smart and sharp, the surrealness was light and loopy, and the melancholy was wonderfully palpable. Smart director.

"Wait, we have a theatre marathon? That sounds AWESOME!"

Many of us are familiar with existence of The Boston Theatre Marathon, a late spring charity event that brings together 50 New England theatre companies and playwrights. However, how many of you know that there are two days of plays? That's right, in addition to the full day of 50 ten minute plays, Boston Playwrights' Theatre also organizes three readings of full length plays, cast and directed by major players like The Huntington and performed at with the generosity of the BCA.

Did you also know that the event brings together artists from small companies and unknown playwrights together on a bill with internationally renown theatre artists like Robert Brustein and Israel Horovitz?

Chances are, many of you have performed in one of the plays. Or seen one of the events. If you are an actor in Boston, you know about the BTM. It's the closest thing we have to a Humana or a Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and it has been steadily growing in scale and scope over the past decade. I can only hope that the minds at be have lofty plans to keep this event growing over the next few years.

Now this is the part where you go tell someone outside of the artist community about it! They're the next step!


"It's not that we don't like you, we just think you could strive for more!"

Lyric Stage: Blah. That's what I think after I've seen a show there. Just, blah. I often find their season choices interesting. And I always applaud them for employing local actors only. No small feat for a company of their budget. They could easily rope in a couple of New York equities. (I also appreciate their $10 Student Rush Tickets) But something gets lost in the execution of their shows that leaves me bored and unsatisfied. I just get the feeling they have stagnated as a company. They have a solid subscriber and donor base; Artistic Director, Spiro Veludos, has been there for 12 years; and no one on marketing or management seems to be taking any risks. They always play it safe. Someone is underestimating how many more people might subscribe or donate if they branched out a little - a new play here, or a fledgling director there, maybe a "second stage" season with a couple of dirtier, grittier plays. They are glossy and all American, which definitely has it's place (Our Town is my favorite play of all time, after all) but they need to be doing more to stay relevant.

"One step forward, two steps backward"

The American Repertory Theatre has done some amazing work this year. I'm not gunna lie, I kind of hated most of the shows I'd seen up until recently. However, my main problem with the ART was not their company of actors, but the directorial choices and uninspiring conceptual approach to theatre they're known for. So while the A.R.T. has made some bold changes and reinvigorated their artistic drive lately, I have to ask why it is that they also gutted their resident acting company?

To use an analogy from Slings and Arrows, it's like saying "Man, Darren Nichols plays are really bad... We should fire all the actors".

Many of those actors are still cast this season, but without this rarest of institutions, I worry that the direction of the A.R.T. might have shifted in another direction but left behind their strongest asset.

The lack of a dedicated, proper Fringe Festival.

Who has thought, man it would be really cool if we had a Fringe Festival in Boston? They have great ones in New York and Philly and a bunch of other cities (Chicago, Minneapolis, San Fransico, to name a few) and we want to put ourselves on the map as a theatre city, right? So why no Fringe Festival? Oh, wait, there IS a Fringe Festival. When, you ask? Over 2 weekends in October. Where, you ask? ...in BURLINGTON? Ok #1 it is a hike and half to get out there, and #2 when you get there, it is a tiny little space with no dressing rooms or backstage space.

But it's a space so the flaws can be forgiven, but WHY is this what we have? A varied number of acts (not all theatre) show up to present to a non-existant audience. No viable Boston companies are represented. No viable companies are represented period. We can fix this. We can piggy back of the Boston Theatre Marathon or FeverFest or The T-Plays (or some other short play festival) to create a two week Fringe Free For All. All we need is the space. We need the limited number of spaces we have in the city to open their doors and say, yes, we will help, and yes we want people to see our Fringe Theatre. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The small and fringe companies here are the strength of our theatre community, so we should create the opportunity to showcase everyone and accept other submissions, make OTHER THEATRES want to produce HERE. Bringing people in from the outside is the only way to keep moving and growing. Make them love Boston like we love Boston. Fringe festivals do that. But not the one we have now.

Quick Hits

We already wrote about you, but you deserve another mention:

11:11's Foreverendia (This show made me cry hysterically in the parking lot. 'Nuff said.)

Didn't fit in other categories, but total hits this year:

The Old Spice Guy
The Mayhem Commercials
True Grit
StageSource (We couldn't do it without you.)


The Kurt Weill Foundation's trigger happy agent. (Seriously, fuck those guys!)
Spider Man: Turn off the Dark (Did we really need a super expensive Bono musical, anyway?)
Actor's Equity (Please don't revoke my EMC status)
Rabbit Hole (It was such a good play, too...)

If you made it this far down, you are the final hit of the year. If we put you on the Miss list (Hi Diane), we do intend on checking out your shows/projects in the future. If we didn't believe in you, we wouldn't have even mentioned you. We know you can do better. We don't kick when you're down.

Except, maybe Spiderman...

The CoLab Theatre Co.

Monday, December 27, 2010


It's been over a month since my last real blog post. And even that entry was sort of half-hearted. I was feeling guilty for not having posted in 10 days and just wanted to get something on the page. To keep interest up, and keep hits coming to the blog, and to keep you all reading. That's what the blog had turned into, for me, in the last few months. Just a thing I have to do to keep the company moving forward.

I went back a couple of days ago and read over the posts in the last month (made by Kenny and Erika) and my brain really stuck on the short mention Kenny made of having reached our one year anniversary of blogging.

One whole year. I kind of couldn't believe it.

And that got me thinking about why we started the blog in the first place and how into it and energized by it I got. It is a tool to serve our community first and foremost. Not me as a performer. Not the CoLab as a company. But you our readers and even those members of our community who don't read or follow us (which is still most everyone, I know ;-) ). It is a place to discuss issues we're having working in Boston, or to highlight a really fantastic show, or speak up against the things we think missed the mark, and celebrate the victories (and defeats) that come in this kind of work. It does work as self promotion, a nice perk of using a blog, but it's not why we started it.

I speak for myself now in saying that despite some frustrations and doubts I'm battling in my own abilities and goals, I am rededicating myself to this blog in the New Year. I don't want to think of it as a resolution. The connotation of that brings on too much pressure. I know now I can't always get my entry up on time, sometimes I just can't find the topic or the words. But as we go into our second year it's important to reevaluate what we have accomplished and rededicate ourselves to the things we do well and are proud of.

And I am proud of this blog.

I am proud of the CoLab. Even though we may not know exactly what our path is yet, we have set some mighty solid stepping stones along the way. And our keystone principle is to serve the theatre community by talking about what's going on, including everyone who wants to be included, and creating theatre with and focused on artists working in Boston right now.

And so I am rededicating this blog to you our readers and Boston in general, and to making theatre.



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kenny Collaborates with Local Non-Profits!

Here at The CoLab, we have days jobs. Some glamorous (MI5 Operative, Gourmet Pastry Chef), some not so glamorous (Barista), and some for non-profit organizations that do really great work.

I've been working part time at The Jewish Women's Archive the past month or so, and a co-worker of mine (whom some of you may recognize if you went to or taught at Brandeis, as I knew some of the readers did) recently asked me to help out with a "telethon" concept video appeal she was planning.

Some brainstorming happened... Here are the results:

Thanks to Leah over at JWA for asking me to collaborate! And also, consider checking out the Jewish Women's Archive website or their blog, Jewesses with Attitude!

The mission of the Jewish Women's Archive (JWA) is to uncover, chronicle, and transmit to a broad public the rich history of American Jewish women.

We're in the middle of our Annual Appeal, so if you or someone you know may be interested in making a donation, mosey on over here! I'm up to my neck in checks to process, but we could always use more!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Reader Review of "Tron"

Here at the CoLab, we welcome guest blogs, tips and reviews of the arts from anyone who cares to share! Normally, we look to share insightful, controversial or inspiring words...

But instead, here's a brief review of the recent remake of "Tron", written by a former classmate of mine who shall remain anonymous:

so i went to see tron this weekend and did a bunch of cocaine afterwards. true story. it reminded me why i've only done it once before. it's just too much work. and then you're so thirsty the next day. although, it did keep me up until 6am drinking... so i guess that was the plus side? so yeah, i don't think i'll be doing that again. but tron was awesome. 4 stars.

This review was unedited to preserve the integrity of this blog.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Kenny Looks Back On One Year of Blogging

Things have been so crazy in our lives that we actually forgot to acknowledge a major milestone...

It has been more than one year since we debuted The CoLab blog!

There will be a more proper end of the year, New Year's post in the future, but for now I just want to reminisce for a moment, the year that was...

Being threatened with legal action...

A flame war with an anonymous hater of Diane Paulus and the direction of the A.R.T. (Part II) (Part III)

The Soska Sisters, producers of "Dead Hooker in a Trunk" mention and link to us on their blog... despite getting the wrong blog name (I still think they're brilliant!)...

And I asked the world to call me out on my BS and tell me exactly how much I suck.

And finally...

Actually, nothing beats being threatened with legal action. Read it. Seriously. It was hilarious.

Those are just some of the posts I'm the most proud of. What other posts did you enjoy? Or did you enjoy writing the most (ML and E, I'm looking at you!)?


Friday, December 10, 2010

Who Wants A Cookie?

The CoLab is having a Bake-Sale!!!!

Come and support two companies at once THIS SUNDAY at 11:11's Her Red Umbrella.

What it is: The CoLab will be selling concessions and home-baked goods at the intermission of the 3pm matinee performance of Her Red Umbrella! We are raising money to buy a StageSource Membership, apply for fiscal sponsorship, and support our first workshop of Dearly Beloved. Come support two companies with one ticket (and see Erika perform in the process).

Where it is: The Factory Theatre, Sunday December 12 @ 3pm.

About the show:

Her Red Umbrella
By: Brian Tuttle
Directed by: Robyn Linden

What if you had one semester to win the girl of your dreams?
Patrick is in love. But Patrick has a problem: he can’t really talk to girls. What Patrick does have is an eccentric Harvard professor as an ally in romance. He also has a hidden talent for writing. By the time a semester abroad in Europe comes to an end, Patrick must use every resource at his disposal to impress, romance, and win the one girl to whom he can’t seem to say a single word.

Tickets and Information:

December 10, 11, 16, 17, & 18 @ 8pm
December 12 @ 3pm - CoLab Bake-Sale

$17 adults; $15 students and seniors; general admission

The Factory Theatre
791 Tremont Street
Boston, MA


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Economics of Acting

There's been an article circulating the internets entitled Ten Things Theatres Need To Do Right Now To Save Themselves by Brendan Kiley. This blog post is not about the list of ten things, however. We've all read the article (if you haven't, do it) and had some reflection on the concepts within. However, my reading of this article inspired a completely unrelated train of thought on a really important topic.

How much is our work worth?

Point 9 reads:
Expect poverty. Theater is a drowning man, and its unions—in their current state—are anvils disguised as life preservers. Theater might drown without its unions, but it will certainly drown with them. And actors have to jettison the living-wage argument. Nobody deserves a living wage for having talent and a mountain of grad-school debt. Sorry.

So let's talk about this... And I warn you readers, that I'm going to be doing my best to discuss this point as an artist and not as a Libertarian Socialist... That would be a rant for another blog.

I'm not sure how many actors feel entitled to anything simply "for having talent and a mountain of grad-school debt." Have you ever heard that argument? I certainly haven't. What we do have are artists and actors who wish they could work for a living wage. There's a big difference here. The statement as written seems to imply that demanding a living wage is symptomatic of some sort of entitlement culture. Moreover, most actors I know don't have grad school debt. Most actors I know don't even have grad school degrees. But you know what I have? Undergraduate debt. I have a ridiculous amount of debt from a four year school, which I sought to attend based on the information I was drilled with as a child that "Education is the key to success" and that getting a college education would increase my value of my labor.

Evidently, the invisible hand has decided otherwise. There was once a time when you could support an entire family with a single income source without a college degree. Now, having a Bachelor's from a prestigious, private college can't stop you from working retail and temp jobs to make ends meet. How many underemployed law school grads are out there, while we're at it?

The fact is, no one class of person is entitled any sort of wage. However, can't we consider the idea that anyone willing to work hard is entitled to a "living wage"? Since when did this become an unreasonable demand? Yes, I believe I am entitled to a living wage, as a 40+ hour a week worker with two jobs (three, if you count theatre/film). Just as I believe a janitor, fruit picker or Wall Street executive is entitled to a living wage.

Fuck the invisible hand. We are constantly being told that our labor is worth only as much as we are willing to work, and that we have choice. No one forces us to be working poor, working class, we can lift ourselves by the bootstraps, all that crap. The fact is that our labor is worth more than we're willing to work for and we need to have higher standards. The choice between being evicted and working shitty job you hate IS NOT A CHOICE. Liberty depends upon the power to choose, and a rock and a hard place is not a choice.

I'm not saying I want to be wealthy. But we've accepted that certain careers are known to be low end. And that's the way it is, and if you don't like it, get a different job. "You don't have to work, you know." It's the same for a waiter. It's the same for an actor.

Imagine a world without waiters? That would kinda suck now, wouldn't it? Now imagine a world without actors? How boring would that be... We'd all have to start reading again... ::shudder::

So the logic implies that if you are willing to work for nothing, then that's what your labor is worth. By that logic, actors who love the work that they do should be paid nothing. Eventually, there'd be some people who left that labor force, but many would stay. Why are there some actor jobs and day jobs that pay and some that don't? Because we have some standards and some things we aren't willing to compromise. And that's a good thing.

So Mr. Kiley, while I really enjoy your article and think everyone should read it...

Don't preach about living wages. That my friend, is an insult to workers of all classes and occupations. Maybe there's an argument to be made, but that is not a very good one. "Expect poverty"? Who doesn't do that? Name me one serious actor who thinks they're going to make good money doing what we're doing.

But I refuse to accept poverty.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

I recently ran my first 5K. In case you were wondering, that's 3.1 miles. In case you were wondering, I ran it in 25 minutes and 35 seconds. That's a pace of ~8.2 min/mi. I didn't run a marathon, but this was a huge accomplishment for me. An accomplishment that I mentally and physically trained to achieve.

A career in the arts is a marathon, not a sprint. You start by deciding to accomplish something. My goal? Ultimately, I would like to support myself using only arts-related activities. Was this my original goal? Absolutely not. When I was sixteen, I wanted "to be an actress" but I had no conception of what that actually meant. Sure I had visions of Cosmo covers and E! interviews, but those weren't real aspirations, they were simply all I knew of the acting world. Now that I'm actually part of that world, I have a better understanding of what it means and where I'm headed.

So I started with The Warm Up: Warming up for a race is just as important as warming up for a career. I hold a BA in Theatre Arts from Brandeis. I spent a semester in London studying Shakespeare, Noel Coward, and other British greats. I participated in as much college theatre as I could. I learned about my craft in as many ways as possible.

The First Quarter Mile: After graduation, I chose a location - BOSTON. After that, it was a matter of time before I started making connections. I joined StageSource, I went on auditions, I saw theatre.

The Next Quarter Mile (AKA The First Half Mile): I got into my stride, my pace for the run - I found my niche. The fringe theatre scene. Kenny, Mary-Liz, and I started The CoLab and I started to meet more and more people who were interesting in bringing the same sort of theatre I was to the Boston area. This led to more and more auditions which led to...

Three Quarters of a Mile Down: Getting cast. During a run, the first mile and a half is the toughest to get through. My body sometimes isn't ready for it. It is the point in the run where my brain kicks in and says, "you know you can do this. Don't give up this easily." After that I get into my stride, and the roles that I've been cast in so far have helped me get into a stride in the Boston area. I've made a number of connections, friends, and I've been able to push myself as an actress. This is all part of the training, the marathon.

The Completion of the First Mile: I haven't hit this point yet in Boston. For me, it will be when I get paid for a role. (Actually paid, not just a stipend.) This had yet to happen, but I know it will some day. For now, I'll keep up my training schedule. A training schedule filled with 5k roles to help me train for marathon roles. (This is not to say that the first time I get paid will be for the role of a life time, but it will be a stepping stone.) My marathon role will be the role I've trained for my whole life. Or at least, it will feel that way. Hopefully I'll experience several marathon roles in my lifetime. But I know that won't be for some time.

And like the road, the stage is somewhere to head where things in "real life" get messy or sad or boring. My 5k training came out of a little heartbreak and little spare time. And here I am running an 8 minute mile. Like running, a career in the arts also requires your brain to train. To remember that even if you're having a tough first mile or a dry spell from getting cast, if you push just a little harder, run just a little further, it will happen for you.

So for today, I'll take my first race as a great accomplishment and I'll use this knowledge to push myself towards longer races and faster miles. And I'll do the same with the stage. With each role, I know that I'm headed toward the future. Each role builds on itself, telling me something about myself as an actress and as a human. I'm never going to run a 5 minute mile for 3 miles in a row. I'm just not. And I'm never going to be on the cover of Cosmo. But that's not what's important to me either. I don't know where I'll end up, but the journey is what's most important. Not the finish line.

A photo of my dad, brother, and I after the race!