A little more than a week ago we closed Dearly Beloved. A labor of love and a testament to using resources well and producing something good on the shoulders of a supportive community with limited means. Putting Dearly Beloved up was one of the hardest things I've ever done in theatre. A lot of what I blog about here is what I love about theatre and why I love producing and creating. And Dearly Beloved showed me a whole new set of things that I love and also things I'm good at that I didn't know about. But it also showed me some things I really hate and really struggle with when it comes to producing, in a way that I didn't expect. Not just because producing a show, no matter what your budget, is more work than any sane person wants to do, but because it was mine. My name was going to be all over this thing. And not in the tangential way your name goes in a program as a character or stage manager or crew person, where if things go horribly wrong you file it under "when bad shows happen to good people". This is my company. Our company. What can this show do to our names? What will it say about the kind of theatre I value? Will people like it? Will people COME? For the week before the show I was overwhelmed with these thoughts. Opening weekend was a complete blur of trying to hold myself together, run the show, and not dissolve into a puddle of liquid anxiety.
2 years ago I sat in the Bertucci's in Kenmore Square across from Kenny and Erika. I met Kenny performing together in Holland Productions' Aloha Say the Pretty Girls and Erika I had just met. We sat and ate and talked. Or mainly I talked and ate and they asked questions and listened. I guess it was an interview of sorts...but I wasn't really sure for what. I knew Kenny had some ideas about starting a fringe company and I knew Erika helped him run the Brandeis Theatre Collective in college and was interested in being his creative partner. I really had no idea where I fit in or what they were looking for. But as always I was just happy to talk shop with people I think are interesting. About a month later we all met again and I realized that Kenny and Erika were under the impression we were all starting a theatre company together. They had a name and a company structure all laid out. And their enthusiasm was exciting.
So I went with it.
It's been an interesting two years. I have been completely in awe of how quickly we have grown; amazed at how accomplished I feel doing the work that we've done; incredibly lucky to get to wear all the hats I want and not have to paint myself only in the "actor" or "producer" or "director" box; and proud to put my name on this company next to Kenny and Erika's.
I realize now, after DB's very very successful run and only now starting to feel normal again, that my anxiety was just a manifestation of my two year investment in The CoLab. So much of myself is stamped on our mission, our productions, our outreach, that it's impossible to separate myself from the event. Of course Kenny and Erika are stamped in there too (thank god, because without them I definitely would have liquified over opening weekend...this business surely is not for the faint of heart) and we wouldn't be The CoLab if any one of us were to jump ship. But it is hard to tie so much of your emotion and energy into something that's ultimate success does not lie solely in your hands.
The run of Dearly Beloved was a huge milestone for the company. And the amount of support and turnout we received were better than I ever hoped for. But the entire process of production was monumental for me. It took everything I had and burned it. Slowly at first and then in a huge raging blaze. And now, the smoke has cleared, and I can see so much more about what the last 2 years have meant to me. And what The CoLab means to me. And how to keep up with it and keep learning and changing with it.