Reflecting on Theatre and Social Change

From organizing the company bookstore to painting giant sheets of wood with chalkboard paint for an interactional lobby display (photo below) to learning exactly how much work it takes to apply for a liquor license to researching Filipino organizations we need to reach out to in order to advertise for auditions for our upcoming show– my jobs at Company One have varied a lot in the past month, making the time fly by. The idea that I’m over halfway done with my internship (and my summer) is unbelievable. 

One of the many interactional lobby activities for Astro Boy (I made those chalkboards!)
One of the many interactional lobby activities for Astro Boy (I helped make those chalkboards!)

Since my last blog post, I’ve debriefed with my supervisor about the LMDA dramaturgy conference (and learned even more in our almost 2-hour long conversation; about theatre history and the Regional Theatre Movement which helped create regional theaters across America, how Boston is not only one of the most gentrified cities in the nation but one of the most racially divided, how dramaturgs at Company One and at various theaters work and what they do specifically, etc.), I’ve helped out with lobby set-up for Astro Boy, and I’ve seen the show twice. It opened to a pretty good review in the Boston Globe and NPR covered it, too (listen to the radio segment here, or read the review here). 

I find I’m learning even in the most “mundane” tasks I’m asked to do at the theater. For instance, while I may sit in the lobby for many of the auditions I help with and do simple things such as sign actors in and gives them their sides (scripts to read for the audition), I get to see how important it is for actors to be polite to the person doing that, I get to debrief with the casting director after every audition and see what he thinks about actors and what he looks for, and I get to know the plays for which we are holding auditions. By organizing and ordering books for the company bookstore, I’ve learned about award-winning playwrights and plays I had never heard of before and am getting a glimpse into the incredibly vast ocean of theatrical literature we only barely dip our toes into with an undergraduate theatre education. Every single day at Company One, I learn something new. 

The lobby for Astro Boy, which I helped set up during tech week
The lobby for Astro Boy, which I helped set up during tech week

Watching Astro Boy reminded me how much I love theatre and reaffirmed my desire to become a director. Seeing a show at Company One is an incredible opportunity because they aren’t a super-polished, generally “safe” (ie non-risk-taking) regional theatre. They worked on this show in their female playwrights XX Play Lab and have been developing it since. As a company that strives to make theatre accessible to a younger, more diverse population, they have lower ticket-prices and, unfortunately, a lower-budget than most companies. But this theatre is so important as I, along with many others, have learned so much about Astro Boy— the comic of manga artist Tezuka, a huge artist in Japan. Just by seeing an 80-minute play. I knew nothing about the artist or the comic before working for Company One and now I’m fascinated by Tezuka’s life and his comic, Astro Boy. I’ve also seen an incredible, new take on mixed media in the theater involving projection, animation, drawing, puppetry, and live music, giving me ideas for future work I might produce in theatre. 

Theaters need to be doing more work like this, and hopefully smaller fringe theaters like this are having an influence on the larger regional theaters out there so educational, culturally diverse theatre will be more widely produced on a larger scale. I hope to take what I’ve learned about non-profit work, professional theatre, and representation in theatre and apply it to all future work I pursue in the theatre world and otherwise. And I mean it when I say I can’t wait to learn what I’ll learn in my last month of my internship at Company One. 

Thanks for reading.

Alison Thvedt ’15