I'm Just a Soul Whose Intentions Are Good

I've been in a dark place this week. I've been having these weird dreams -- every single night I've been dreaming a different but related dream about me not being able to get into a theatre or not having my ticket or there's someone in my seat... you get the idea. The story is always different but I always wake up pissed off. Which I hate.

I finally realized it's my worry over where we're going to find a new theatre when our current space is no longer available in fall 2010. That's only 18 months away, so that problem is always in the back of my mind, and now, annoyingly, it's coming out in my dreams. At least I oughta get my own dream ballet! And my own Dream Curly! (musical theatre joke)

But I also get in a bad mood after the Kevin Kline Awards every year. By most measures, New Line is wildly successful. We're in our 18th season. We get tons of local press and a bit of national press now and then. We have a loyal donor base. We sell out a lot of performances (though fewer recently because we're in a much bigger house now). We get many, many rave reviews and almost no negative reviews. Audiences were thrilled by all three of our shows in 2008 -- Assassins, High Fidelity, and Hair. All three enjoyed repeat customers (a lot for Hair). And yet, in four years and after twelve shows, we've never even gotten a Kline nomination for our shows, for my direction, or for any of our leads. (We have gotten some nominations but none for the major categories.) And no one from New Line has ever won a Kline.

I know, awards don't matter. That's true, they really don't. It's the opinion of seven judges. Hardly something to be annoyed by. And truthfully, I'm incredibly uncomfortable with the very idea of winning awards for making art. That seems creepy and inappropriate to me. The only real measure is: do we connect to the audience in a meaningful way. And we do. And yet it still bothers me somehow that we get "de-Klined" every year. I admit it's ridiculous.

Really, other than my worry over where we'll move in 2010, everything else is going great. Forbidden Planet is going so well, and the cast is so strong and having so much fun. I am positive that our audiences will fall in love with this show. And we've chosen our shows for next season and all three of them positively thrill me!

So why am I in such a dark place? Maybe because I'm 45 now and New Line is 18, and yet it's still so hard to get shows up and opened. And we still don't have a permanent home. I feel like after all this time and all this success and all this praise, at some point it should be easier than it was ten years ago. But it's not.

And yes, I chose this life. I chose to live on the minuscule salary New Line pays me, plus a bit on the side from my books. I chose to start a company that does alternative work, a company that by definition does not attract a wide, mainstream audience, a company that by design operates on a shoestring; and doing often obscure, quirky shows that I'm constantly having to "sell" to actors, designers, etc. Maybe I'm just realizing that it's going to keep being hard as long as I do this. I thought it would get easier.

Part of my darkness is probably just that we're at that nebulous midpoint with Forbidden Planet, where I've poured all my ideas into the show, but it will take a few run-throughs for me to see what the result is, to see how good my work is, and what work still lies ahead. So I'm done with the biggest (and least fun) part of my job, but I don't get the payoff quite yet. I can sort of imagine the end product, but none of us really knows yet what this crazy and beautiful piece of art will be.

I don't have too long to wait though. We move into the theatre in a week and open 2 1/2 weeks later. I can't wait to hear the band and to see the set and costumes! This is the part of the process where I have to have faith and patience. Neither is my strong suit.

Ah, just shut up and go smoke a joint, Miller. Okay, if I have to...

Long Live the Musical!