Friday, February 29, 2008

In Our Nation's Capitol

I've tried to contact friends and family, but for anyone who does not yet know, I have shuffled off from Buffalo and am spending the next two months in Washington DC.

I'm here because I'm out of work. How did this happen? There have been lots of rumors flying, but the straight story is this, on Tuesday February 12, the board of directors of Studio Arena Theatre voted to cancel the remainder of the season. After their meeting, the entire staff were informed and given letters stating that we had been "indefinitely terminated."* My last day was that Friday, February 15th. Others were terminated on the 18th, so that they could finish running the current show and strike it. Shamefully, the board of directors did not announce the cancellation to the ticket holders or the general public until February 25th, 13 days (nearly 2 weeks) later. The poor box office staff were told that if anyone asked for tickets to one of the last 2 shows, they should make an excuse, like a computer error, for why they couldn't sell those tickets at the moment. The articles that the Buffalo News have printed about all of this have been spotty at best. The News staff does not include anyone with a theatre education or a clear knowledge of professional theatre, and of course the Board has kept them in the dark as much as possible. There is a very good article in playbill that I would encourage you to read. It gives the current situation and a fairly accurate description of any future possibilities.

I am, of course, incredibly upset, not just at losing my job, but also because my home town has lost its only professional theatre. Most of Buffalo didn't know that was a possibility until it was too late. No one even had a chance to help. Most of Buffalo also has not idea what a regional theatre is, or why the other semi-professional, non-LORT theatres in town are, in fact, not professional theatres, no matter how good their shows are.

With no other professional theatre in town, there is no other draping job in Buffalo, so after a week of unemployment I started a temporary job at The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC. Boy is it nice to be at a theatre that hasn't been failing for the past decade! I work in a spacious, well supplied shop with about 30 other people. We are building costumes for Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, which will be performed in rep on one of their two stages. Both productions will use the same stage, and any characters that occur in both plays will be played by the same actor. There area also a number of minor characters, like senators and soldiers, who will be seen in both, so that the two plays almost function as act I and II of the same play.

Also here at the Shakespeare Theatre (which does more than just Shakespeare) is Mary Zimmerman's Argonautica, which I saw last night. I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to see this production in one of the few theatres in the country at which it's playing. This is the benefit of being at a healthy theatre in a healthy city. Not only was it a great play, but my friend Lisa was the scenic charge artist who painted this set when the show began it's run at Berkley Rep where she works. She has some great pictures in this blog post. And some more about making the set here.

Please do click on the links and look at the really cool pictures of this version of the famous Argonaut story. Here's a quick photo to pique your interest.

I miss Chris, Christopher, and Rusty terribly, but I am having a good time here, and trying to really appreciate everything this theatre has to offer. I plan to get out and do some letterboxing tomorrow, and on Sunday attend my first Reconciling in Christ* Lutheran Church and accompany a couple of coworkers to some of the many museums this town has to offer. Oh, and did I mention that not only do I already have 2 good friends in the costume shop but have worked with 2 others at other theatres, and my friend Tessa will also be coming up from Buffalo to join us!

*I find nothing "indefinite" about termination.

**an affiliation among Lutheran churches designating full welcome to gay members, guests and clergy


TheatreChick73 said...

I was so worried about you with that whole Studio Arena rigamaroll! I'm so happy to hear you landed on your feet with new employment!

Check out Callie Kimball's blog too...

She lives and performs in DC. I wonder if she's worked with your company? She's done a lot of Shakespeare recently.

Everyone misses you here of course but enjoy your time in DC.

Marietta said...

found your post via ravelry...i'm a dc costume shop manager (but for a very small theatre) and there is so much here that will keep you busy. check out U of Md or Arena Stage as well - they always look for overhire too. Pm me or email me via my blog - we are always looking for new blood :)