I was heading home from work the other evening, on the subway platform changing trains, when I heard a “hey there” behind me. Not the threatening sort of “hey there” one might imagine in a story concerning the New York subway system, but the sort that you get used to as an arts professional in this city. There’s thousands of actors, and we all go to auditions together and see each other’s shows, and so we all vaguely kinda sorta know each other, if only just to say hi once in a while. This was indeed the case with this young woman, clearly a young actress in the big city; to refresh my memory as to how she knew me, she helpfully added, “from Naked Angels.”
I smiled, and nodded, and was about to say “hello” back and continue on my way, as I’ve done on countless prior occasions. As most of us have done a thousand times. But before I had gotten the word out, I had a sudden realization.
I run Naked Angels.
This is an exaggeration of the truth, of course; for the past two months I’ve served as one of the two Creative Directors of the Naked Angels theater company’s Tuesdays at Nine cold reading series. Arya Kashyap and I select the pieces to be read on any given evening, cast the pieces, and host each week's event. Other people have far more to say in the management of the overall company; I simply co-host every Tuesday. But this young woman had only been coming to Naked Angels for a few weeks, and only knew Arya and myself as the public faces of the company. And it occurred to me, there on the subway platform, that I was the public face of the company there as well. I had an obligation to do more than simply say "hello" and go about my business.
And so I had a much longer conversation than is my usual custom with people I barely know, whilst waiting for a connecting subway train. And it was a perfectly lovely conversation (I learned that my new friend was going in the opposite direction from me to meet up with friends in Park Slope). I hope it doesn't sound rude that this conversation was more than I was expecting – New York, after all, is a city full of microconversations, snatched in the brief seconds where busy people's frantic lives intersect. But I'm more than just a busy person these days. I've had to realize that I'm an ambassador for this company and community as well, and I don't get to stop playing this role when I leave Theater 80 on Tuesday nights.