We all spend time in our lives searching for that "just right" feeling. It is a beautiful moment when you can step back and realize the searching is over. This is how TheatreLAB has made me feel. It's my home. It's my "just right" artistic outlet. My opportunity to tackle every theatrical venture, on stage and off, that I can dream up.
McLean Jesse and Alexander Sapp in a scene from GRACE by Craig Wright at the 2014 Acts of Faith Preview
I grew up on a small farm in one of the comically rural areas of Virginia (where my dad continues to refer to Roanoke as “the big city”) and then after college I lived for several years in the much more urban town of Chicago, Illinois. I do feel like Goldilocks in Richmond, having found a locale that’s “just right.” It’s the perfect blend of small town charm and big city opportunity!
For such a medium-sized community, we’re jam-packed with quality, professional theatre and arts. I feel lucky to live in Jackson Ward—the Arts District itself—and to experience the bounty of theatre in my neighborhood firsthand. I love being involved in the theatre scene, not only as an actress, producer, designer and audience member, but now as an Associate Artistic Director.
And yet, I frequently hear murmurings that “we have too many theatre companies for a city of Richmond’s size." “Pshaw,” I say, and I scoff for two reasons. First, the increased diversity of theatre options merely provides increased opportunity for eager theatre goers. It by no means imposes an obligation on the public. Second, as a theatre artist, it provides us ample chances to milk our participation for all it’s worth.
To my fellow thespians, listen up! I say bring it on! Bring on the bold, experimental and devised theatre. Bring on the classical, the historic. The modern, unsettling, storytelling theatre. Puppets? Sure, why not! Bring on the one-woman shows, the flashy musicals, the political satires. Comedy, improv, puppets (again), anything you want!
And if you have a desire to do something, and you don't know how to do it, or where to do it, or who will see it, I know a place for you. Come see me, at the Basement.
Associate Artistic Director, TheatreLAB