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BaltiTour BaltiPoster

I am an employee of Boston University’s School of Theatre office as a marketing assistant. My primary role in this position is the design and creation of the show posters for each quarter. Each marketing assistant is assigned three to four posters per quarter that best matches their design talents and theatrical interests.

(As someone who designs graphic work regularly for different directors and artists, I understand how sometimes what the client wants is against the creator’s taste, personal opinion about how the design should be, or personal aesthetic. I also understand how painful it can be when someone insults the work that has countless hours behind its creation. I in no way want to insult or criticize the artist who created the content I am going to speak about. I know for a fact that the artist who made this poster created exactly what they were told to make and had little freedom to expand outside the box. So this is a criticism of the concept and advertising tactics the piece I am about to discuss employs, it is not a criticism of its creators.)

When the Baltimore poster was printed, I was seeing it for the first time, as I was not assigned this project and knew little about the process.

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This is a beautiful poster. The font choice is excellent, shadow work smart and crisp, and the faces are a joy to look at. However, the production of Baltimore that this particular poster is advertising has an entirely different cast than the one shown in the poster image. During orientation this summer, a 15-minute version of Baltimore was mounted and performed for the incoming freshman class of 2020. The thought behind featuring an image of the February cast was that non-CFA BU students would recognize the faces of the original cast and feel more inclined to attend the show. But only one actor from the original cast was featured in the 15-minute production. So why is the rest of the cast here? It is possible because the actor that was in the 15-minute version happens to be the focal point of the image, this choice was made.

Baltimore is a play about race and identity. The fact that a different cast appears counters that theme of identity. “It feels like the equivalent of using a stock photo of a racially diverse cast of twenty-somethings,” a School of Theatre student shared with me. I agree. This neglects the new people that are telling this story.

Not to mention, because this is a different production with a different director, cast, and design team, the way the story is told is going to be different. From my understanding, one of the biggest differences between the two productions is the use of projections during transitions. Those transitions helped tell the story. The February production had a lot more tech elements, and the October one is going to be a much more intimate experience. One production is not better than the other. They are just telling the same story in a different form. The image of the older cast on the poster tells us that the productions are going to be exactly the same.

And then there’s the content of the photo itself. I can understand the thought behind trying to attract more audiences by presenting them with familiar faces. However, the expressions on their faces suggests that this may be an hour and a half of laughter and silliness. It really takes away from the seriousness of the issues Kirsten Greenidge brings up in her play. This play is about seeing people for who they are and respecting them as far as race and identity is concerned. It’s a really good play, but it won’t be a roaring party, as the image suggests.

I do hope that I am proved wrong, though. I want this advertisement to attract new people into the world of Baltimore. Maybe the smiles will lure in audiences that won’t expect to be enlightened and educated by the material Greenidge has presented us with. I don’t want this to be a “bad” advertisement because I want as many people as possible to see this play and hear this story.




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“Don’t Half-Ass Two Things, Whole Ass One Thing.”


Ron Swanson gives Leslie Knope this advice when he sees that she’s stretching herself too far in Parks and Recreation. My classmates and I were given this advice in class this past week as we touched on the topic of our future artistic careers.

And yet, here I am, writing this blogpost at the last minute, having just returned from a technical rehearsal for a play opening on Saturday, and about to embark on a mandatory all nighter to finish the multiple midterm assignments I have due tomorrow. I knew it would come to this, I knew this is how this night would go, but I couldn’t avoid it. There are many things that I have to do: assignments for classes I have to take, learning lines, submitting paperwork for abroad, etc.. And then, because I go to school for something I’m passionate about, there are tasks I want to do, and want to do well and fully. But because all of these things need my attention at once, everything suffers. And that project that I was so incredibly excited about at the beginning of the semester, gets less energy than studying names of medieval magicians, because I have to work harder to focus on the latter, and I need the religion credit to graduate.

How am I supposed to take this Ron Swanson great advice when my schedule simply does not allow for it? How am I supposed to learn focus and commitment to a single task when the university structure is not set up that way? I don’t even have the ability to really ask these questions, right now because of how much other things I have to do before zombie walking into my first class tomorrow morning.

Molly Greville, another student on this blog who happens to be one of my best friends,  wrote a blogpost about talking about the artistic value of boredom last week and I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t have time in my schedule for boredom, I don’t have time in my schedule to allow my mind to wander without a goal. As I struggle to meet deadlines and still be awake enough to participate and learn in the classes I really am so excited about, I wonder where the alternative is. I wonder what I’m missing, or what my peers have figured out. I also wonder what my CAS Religion teacher thinks the rest of my schedule looks like. But I’m too tired and burn out to find the answers. And I am a strong TYPE B personality. Questions make me excited, I hate having too strict a schedule, I love being able to jump to whatever I’m inspired by in the moment. So I’m wilting a little bit.

I am ready to take this great advice that has been bestowed upon me. I am ready to commit my time to one or two projects at a time and have a personal life outside of my work that can further inform my art. But that’s just not a reality right now. Right now I have to set timers so I don’t get too invested in one project and forget to work on the other. I have to skip out on artistically stimulating conversations with my peers to organize my schedule. I have to use my lunch break to sleep. Here’s hoping that all this stamina building will make the real world seem tame in comparison.


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New Work in the U.S. vs. the U.K.: Part One

Lately, I’ve become interested in the state of new work in the American theatre scene, so I’ve decided to make a two-part piece comparing the American scene with the British theatre scene, which seems to place a great emphasis on new work. In this blog piece I’ll talk a bit about what I’ve read concerning the state of new works in the UK, and next week I’ll do the same for the American theatre scene, with the intent of comparison. Which theatre scene puts more emphasis on new work?

Maev Kennedy of British newspaper The Guardian explains in the article “New Work Makes Up Nearly Two-thirds of All British Theatre Productions” that “For the first time in more than a century, the British theatre scene is now dominated by new work including original plays, musicals, operas and pantomimes, which make up almost two-thirds of all productions.” It is important to note, however, that “the bulk of these shows were not musicals or dance shows, but straight theatre productions,” hence a bulk of it is new writing. The Guardian shares that a survey for the BBC of 62 subsidised theatres (carried out by the British Theatre Consortium) found that new works produced rose from 361 in 2009 to 395 in 2014. And, more specifically, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre saw a 23% increase in new works in 2014, compared to 2009.

The Royal Court, one of London’s most well-known theatres,  is deeply committed to new writing. Its dedication to new writing has uncovered great writers such as Arnold Wesker, John Arden, and Edward Bond. The Royal Court writes on its website, “For over 50 years, we have premiered groundbreaking new plays and helped to launch the careers of our foremost playwrights.” The Royal Court reads and considers 3500 scripts every year and nurtures the work of emerging playwrights through writers groups, such as one described as an “open access beginner’s group.” They also provide developmental workshops and readings to allow the playwright the opportunity to hear their play read aloud. The theatre boasts that their writers groups and previous developments such as Rough Cuts and the Young Writers’ Festival jumpstarted the careers of “some of today’s most influential young playwrights, including Jack Thorne, Polly Stenham, Rachel De-lahay, Bola Agbaje, Mike Bartlett and Lucy Prebble.” The commitment not only runs deep – it runs far. Royal Court playwrights and directors travel across the globe every year to cultivate relationships with emerging international playwrights through workshops, residencies and touring. The theatre runs long-term development projects in various countries, such as Mexico, Brazil, Palestine, Germany, France, the U.S. and more, in the hope of stimulating new writing and bringing new works to London.

Does the American theatre scene have something similar in scope and breadth? Does new work make up nearly two-thirds of all American theatre productions? I’ll find out next week!

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Why Theatre Should Be More Like Baseball


Maybe not Baseball. I’m not a huge fan, but with The Chicago Cubs going into their fourth game with The Dodgers – I’ve been excited by the real life drama of all of it. It feels so visceral and alive and real. We can’t know the outcome. My favorite theater experiences have this quality too.

To drive my point home I am only giving myself 20 minutes to write this blog post. And I’m not kidding. My timer is sent to 30 and I will actually write as much as I can in those 30 minutes. For some, this may not seem like a difficult feat. For me, it’s near impossible.

Ok. Synergy Mystic Mango Kombucha in hand and here we go. 30 minutes begin…

We like sports because we really don’t know what is going to happen. The danger is real and so is the athleticism. We put exceptional athletes in extraordinary circumstances. I think we can do the same for actors.

In sports our involvement is necessary, or at least we feel that it needs to be. We feel that we can change the outcome if we scream loudly enough and hope enough and not turn away from the action.

It reminds me of that amazing moment where something goes wrong on stage and the actors need to make it right. A fake candle falls off the table or someone fumbles over a line or Milky White in Into the Woods literally falls apart onstage (have you seen that YouTube video?) It’s so much fun watching someone who is prepared to do one thing, change course and yet not lose sight of their goal. These moments show the virtuosity of the actor and also remind us that things could go wrong. There is risk here.

I also think of clowns. Not the scary ones that are popping up all of the world scaring people half to death… I HATE THIS NEW FAD. I HATE IT SO MUCH!

I think of clowning in theater. There is a really great company in Chicago called 500 Clown. They have changed their focus in recent years but when they started out they were setting up circumstances for a room to dramatically change the work that they were doing. They created pieces that had space for this. An example is 500 Clown Macbeth. A crown is suspended high above the stage and these three clowns (think child-like, goofy adults, NOT BOZO) would spend the play trying to get it. They had benchmarks and moments they would hit every night, but how they got to these moments were dramatically changed by the audience. They would have to walk out on stage without any expectations.

11minutes down… Taking a drink of Mystic Mango.

In sporting events there is also a sense of trust created between the players and the spectators. We KNOW them and know they are working hard, and we get scared when they hurt themselves. We believe they are telling us the truth the whole time.

Some of my favorite play experiences have really embraced this sense of truth. I’m not a fan of “method acting” but watching an actor actually have to deal with something real in space can be quite fascinating and moving.

In this show I took to Edinburgh, this character

13 minutes left…

…this character based on the real guy who was first to person to row across the Atlantic and then Pacific oceans was played by an actor who had not done those things. Throughout the rehearsal process we settled on having him do this rowing sequence on stage that was absolutely exhausting. It used a ton of core strength and was nearly impossible on some nights. It was quite thrilling to watch because when he had finished we all really felt a sense of accomplishment even though he hadn’t gone anywhere.

9 minutes…

I don’t know what I think about Drunk Shakespeare. I hear it’s fun and I would like to see it… I wonder if it enhances the sense of danger in the room. Does it help the audience rally around an actor who is struggling through real life circumstances? I also am not totally convinced that I want to make theater like this. The other side of this whole argument is that although I believe theater needs to be immediate, and visceral and “dangerous” I think it must also be artful and planned.

Maybe it’s enough to be listening and responding in the moment. I have seen plays where this feels dangerous, spontaneous and alive.

With 4.48 minutes left, I am left wondering how we continue to ignite this sensibility in our plays without losing the artfulness.

I’ve heard SITI Company will add games into the mix when they are performing. Actors will count, and score their breath so that they are working like musicians as well as actors. I believe they even did a performance of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf where they spoke words from a physics textbook, but were underscoring it with subtext that was made up of all of the lines of the Albee play. I wish I had seen it…


I’m giving myself 3 minutes to spell check (you’re welcome) and am going to post this thing.

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More Dance, Please!

This weekend my world turned upside down, turned inside out, and turned a few chaînés.

Big Dance Theatre’s Short Form, their 25th anniversary program, was the offending piece of art.

Except it was anything but offensive. I have never wanted more of something so strongly when it was over.

I’ve been a dancer since I was four years old. Dance has always been a source of relief and freedom for me. I trained for many years and still sometimes take a class here or there, but school has pushed dance classes to the wayside. I’ve felt for a while like maybe my theatre self and my dancer self don’t get to co-exist anymore. I’m aware that I’m not good enough to be a professional dancer, and I don’t really want to be. But I don’t want to let dance slip out of my life. When I encountered Big Dance this weekend, I started thinking that maybe I don’t have to.

As I watched Big Dance Theatre this weekend, the younger me who was always better at storytelling than endless fouettes rejoiced. Here were a group of dancers doing the very thing she always felt like maybe she could do. They were professionally trained, seasoned, and Bessie-nominated, true, but the expressiveness! The commitment to storytelling over everything! The mirroring of movement and emotion! It was a thrill.

Each of the 6 pieces told its own story (especially the one that took the form of a 15 minute intermission party with mini hot dogs and twister). The stories were not clear, not spelled out or explained with dialogue. The mystery of the movement was compelling. Why was the man putting on a tutu and clapping in sequence? Why was that lady putting her feet in a bucket while a bag of ice hung from the ceiling, dripping slowly? Figure it out on your own! I felt like I was watching a case study in movement.The short form structure allowed for exploration, experimentation, and presentation of a variety of answers.

Having recently studied Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar for a class project, seeing their work in person was a gift. Reading about their work online was not anywhere near as useful as experiencing it for myself. There really is no way to quantify their work because it defies words. The scope of their work cannot fit into language because it exists in the body first and foremost. Annie-B’s choreography is inventive, bizarre, and stirring. Paul Lazar rocks a powdered wig like very few people can.

I danced all the way to the ICA, before I really knew what I was in for. I danced during the pre-show talk. I danced to my seat, I danced in my seat. I danced through the 15 minute intermission/dance party/twizzler break. I danced all the way home. Big Dance Theatre made me vibrate with excitement and energy and passion for dance. It may have been Big Dance Theatre’s birthday, but Short Form was their gift to me.

More, please!!!!

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I’m Afraid I’ll Say the Wrong Thing (STILL)

I recently just closed “The Identity Project,” a devised piece of theatre that the School of Theatre had as part of the Quarter 1 season. The process was rocky–my artistic endurance was tested, my regular endurance was tested, and at times I wanted to quit theatre forever.

At first the project sounded exciting! A new play developed by a group on young artists bursting with creative energy? A new play about those artists bursting with creative energy?

It sounded easy, even! “Well we know ourselves more than anyone, and we’re all actors, and writers, and directors, so sharing our stories should be no problem.”

And at first–it was! It was a blast. As a self-diagnosed egocentric, I love to talk and write about myself! Whats my biggest fear? Easy. What’s the story behind my name? Done.

But then topics started to arise that I wasn’t accustomed to identifying with; the topic of “racism in America.” Suddenly, I fell silent.

“Absolutely. Yes. Racism is horrible. Nobody should be racist. Donald Trump must never be president! Intersectionality! White privilege!” -Me.

All easy things to say–but harder to do. And nearly impossible to create art about , when its something that you don’t feel you have ownership of.

I thought it wasn’t really my place. Who was I to create honest art about something that I didn’t know!

But then through the work, I was able to see how privileged I was to be able to talk about these things. And if I didn’t talk about them…who would? If its still considered a “taboo” subject then problems will never get solved. No, I have never experienced racism first-hand, but it is, as a person of privilege, still my responsibility to work toward change.

It is my place. 

And now here I am! And maybe the first step toward being a good ally, is raising my hand and contributing to topics about race. Maybe the first step is letting myself be wrong. I live under a cloud of white privilege, and rather than stay silent in fear of letting my privilege show, I should speak up. If I say something wrong, I’ll change it. Bravery. Ok?




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I Love New Work.

This weekend, my ensemble and I performed our devised piece, The Identity Project, for our peers. While the process of creating and the journey we underwent each performance taught me a lot, I learned the most when talking to the audience afterwards.

After every show, I would hear, see, and feel the excitement of our audience. They would reflect back to me what they were intrigued or moved by. I loved it. I loved hearing the different opinions and discussing the show with my classmates. It was so energizing to experience my friends experiencing the show I worked on for the last five weeks.

It reminded me how much new work means to me. It reminded me why I chose to write for my senior thesis. It reminded me why I volunteered to be part of a team that commits to nurturing new work in the SOT community.

Going forward in my career as a theatre artist, I want to be a creator and a supporter of new work. I want to write, devise, make as much art as I can. I want to be a playwright, a dramaturg, an actor, maybe even a producer.I want to throw my weight behind new playwrights— myself included— and bring fresh ideas to the stage.

I think there’s a lot, a lot of merit in already published works, but what energizes me the most is new scripts, new ideas. I love watching a piece of theatre blossom before my eyes.

I think this is the single most exciting thing about theatre. I can’t wait to do more of it.