A few months ago I got an e-mail out of the blue from a friend of a friend. It’s subject line was “A New Thing?” and inside it said:
Hello, my name is Rob Olguin. I have been talking with our mutual friends, Ron Reed and Angela Konrad recently and wanted to introduce myself to you….Recently the idea of…a new company has come up. We are in the process of determining what that might look like. After reading and enjoying your blog, and a glowing endorsement from Ron and Angela, I would love to get together and formally introduce myself. My dream is an ensemble company – working, training, and creating together – HOWEVER, the reality is, I don’t know a strong community of theatre artists up here yet. Are you free anytime this weekend or next week to get a coffee, introduce ourselves, and chat about this idea of a new company?
And that’s where it started. Coffee.
In actuality, coffee became a three hour conversation and when I left I was taking a script with me for consideration and seriously contemplating not just being a part of a new company, but co-founding it. My mind was racing. I’d been contemplating producing for a couple of years but hadn’t taken any serious steps towards making it happen, even as a one off, and now I was looking at co-founding a company. Was I insane?! (Ken Davenport would argue not at all – you need to produce, not just talk about it!)
I talked to some people whose opinions I trust and told them what I was thinking: that I was terrified but excited. Their response? “If you’re terrified of it that’s exactly why you should do it. You have the skill set necessary. Make it happen.”
I eventually e-mailed back and said that I was in. This lead to more coffees and beers. A name for the company. Glass City Theatre. An e-mail from Rob which read, “I can’t believe we are doing this! Lets be COURAGEOUS and down with Cowards and Nay-Sayers.” We added a third member to our little tribe: Michael Wipf who is experienced as a producer with the Push Festival & Touchstone Theatre. We took the leap and programmed two shows for our first year out.
The first show is Stretch Dog, a one-man show written & performed by Rob Olguin & directed by Michael Wipf as a Bring Your Own Venue production at Pacific Theatre during the Vancouver Fringe Festival.
Think of the worst commercial you’ve ever seen. Now think of the poor jerk who had to be in it. He didn’t want to be there, but he’s got a wife, a baby, a mortgage, and believe it or not, talent. Trouble is, he’s also got an agent.
The second show is Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Jesus Hopped the “A” Train which will run at Pacific Theatre from March 11 – April 2, 2011. I will, of course, be stage managing it, and it will be directed by Angela Konrad.
Rikers Island. Two men sit in solitary confinement, 23 hours a day. Lucius Jenkins is a serial killer who awaits execution, Angel Cruz stands accused of a murder he doesn’t believe was a crime. One has found God, the other needs to find himself. Visceral, gritty, harrow- ing – an uncompromising drama about contradiction, contrition and hypocrisy by the author of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.
The website is in development and will contain our mandate and all the other things that theatre company websites have. This morning I got the proofs for the Pacific Theatre season brochure which includes info on our shows and all of a sudden it was real. It wasn’t just me and the guys making plans over beers at a restaurant; it was all of a sudden a real company. And let’s be honest. I’m still terrified. It’s a big commitment. But I’m also excited. It’s a huge leap, but I’m holding my breath and flinging myself over the edge. Because after all, the most exciting things – the most exciting art – happen when you let go and go for it.