I get to be an actor again this week, Constant Reader; as mentioned on the main page, I’ll be performing in a public reading of Tiffa Foster’s new play Doris & Bertie. (You can find out about it here; please note the COVID guidelines if you’re planning to come see it.) The reading is part of the Bar Theatre Collective’s Breaking Barriers Reading Series, which is taking place throughout the month of October at HB Studios here in New York.
I’m well acquainted with HB Studios. Most theatre folk in this city are; HB is a major nexus of artistic activity here. Their school of acting is one of the longest-running in the city, as well as one of the most affordable, so many performers have taken a class there at one time or another. I’m one of the few who never has, but my late friend Arthur French was a teacher and director there for many years. Because of that, I wound up doing a number of staged readings on their stage, having received a call from Arthur to see if I was interested. (For many years, he was the only man still using my old answering service number, and I maintained that service and checked its messages solely to make sure I didn’t miss a project with Arthur.) I rehearsed there for even more projects, again thanks to Arthur. So it stands to reason, over the course of all those years, that somebody from HB saw my work, thought it worthwhile, and recommended me for this latest project. Work begets work, no? Clearly, when the folks at HB emailed me with the offer and the staged reading procedures, that’s what happened here?
Except it’s not.
Work does beget work; I did get this latest gig thanks to a previous performance of mine. But it wasn’t anything I’d ever done at HB Studios. Heck, it wasn’t anything I’d ever done on the Eastern Seaboard. It was all thanks to a monologue I performed in Alaska.
The playwright, Tiffa Foster, was one of my fellow participants in this past summer’s Valdez Theatre Conference (as a reminder, you can check out the play of mine which was presented there at NPX). As part of the conference, we both participated as actors in a festival of one-minute monologues written by our fellow playwrights; it’s the big climax to the week-long conference. Apparently I did pretty well; Tiffa had remembered the piece from several months ago, when it came time to cast this reading of hers. And it’s worth noting that this upcoming reading comes out of an online playwrighting workshop in which she’s been participating; Tiffa herself is based not in New York (home of HB) or Alaska, but in Minnesota.
So clearly, geography has no meaning anymore.
Which I suppose is a good thing; all theater production, much like politics, may be local, but the ultimate goal, and the only way to truly get things to happen, is for your name and work to move beyond your local sphere and out into the wider world. Still, the Twin Cities are twelve hundred miles away, and Valdez, Alaska is over four thousand miles away. Those are pretty substantial commutes; I don’t think the Equity travel stipends are designed to cover that.