Alley Cat Theater is a direct result of my involvement with Boston Public Works Theater Company, a theater I co-founded with another playwright that is made up of seven playwrights, all of whom are producing one play, then we will disband. BPW is coming up on the beginning of our fourth year working on the project.
You can't beat hands-on training. From doing budgets to pushing a broom, I continue to learn so much about theater-making as BPW enters its last year. I think one of the best lessons though, were not the ones that taught me how to make theater, but how NOT to do it. I keep saying to the other playwrights, We're not making mistakes; we're learning lessons.
One lesson I'll carry over to Alley Cat Theater is I will never again--I repeat: Never!--lay track in front of an ongoing locomotive. That pretty much describes BPW's first year, and I think it was unavoidable as we aggressively built and financed a theater and produced a full-season. Lots happened. Lots of good things. But it was stressful. Very stressful, and something I don't think I'd like to go through again. I bring this up because of questions that I've been asked about when and what will Alley Cat Theater produce? All in due time, is my answer.
I'm not going to force anything. I'm not sure about the model where theaters pump out season after season after season. It reminds me of corporations producing quarterly financials for Wall Street, and the necessity of getting the quarterly report out takes precedence over the quality of the product. Or let me put it this way, I don't think it's an appropriate model for me, working as both playwright and producer of my own new work. I'm not going to put one of my plays out there until I feel it's ready for a full-on production.
So...for the curious:
Much of theater happens off-stage and here's what's happening off-stage at ACT. The details of the business model are coming together, for example, a bank account needs to be opened and I plan on making the theater an LLC. These and a bunch of other details are what make up the grunt work of theater, and you should get down and kiss the ground the people walk on who do this kind of work.
For me, the fun stuff:
ACT's first production was last summer with a 40-minute production of Plank in the Providence Fringe Festival. ACT co-produced with OUTLoud Theatre, and the time we spent in the rehearsal room was absolute heaven. The play has grown to become full-length, and is currently being used by Concord Academy as part of its theater curriculum, with a small class of three students using it as a departure point for their own exploration of the themes in the play. While these students are working at Concord Academy, I'll continue working on the script, especially in January at Vermont Studio Center where I was accepted as a fellow for the entire month for Plank. The students at Concord Academy and I are going to exchange ideas and discoveries. A director and I have begun working together, and I'm hoping for some workshopping soon, and perhaps a reading.
I suspect that things will begin to move a bit faster. I'd like to share some more ideas here on this blog. There is no right or wrong way to do any of this, that's what makes it so darn fun: How you can constantly reinvent things.