You may be wondering why you should contribute to Boston Public Works. Here’s why I did. There’s a vibrant, productive theater community here in Boston, and that includes playwrights. Certainly a number of companies have either been devoted to new work or very proactive in developing and supporting playwrights’ careers. Boston Playwrights’ Theatre has been doing this at a high level of excellence for many years, and The Huntington Theatre Company, A.R.T., Central Square Theater, and New Repertory Theatre among others have been instrumental in nurturing new work. But we need more opportunities to meet the demands of the talent we have in this city. There isn’t enough production at this point to support the careers of emerging playwrights and many other talented theater artists in a sustainable way. Perhaps the only way to retain artists (who often leave for larger cities out of sheer frustration) and to generate more healthy competition is to produce more work and create more jobs.
Boston Public Works is doing just that. A group of experienced playwrights, each producing a play over the course of three seasons, casting local actors who are committed to the rigorous and exciting process of workshopping and building original work for the stage. Union contracts when a union actor is the best fit for a role. Jobs for directors, stage managers, designers, dramaturgs, producers, technical wizards. Internship/apprenticeship, and assisting opportunities for students and early career artists. Just what our theater community needs… and all of this takes money.
To that end, the company has launched an Indiegogo campaign – now at its midpoint. Full disclosure: I’ve been part of the development process of Cassie M. Seinuk’s unique and magnificent play, From The Deep, and have been cast in the BPW production next spring. But the fundraising at this point is collective, and my contribution is divided equally among all nine playwrights. I wanted to make a donation to the company because I believe in the work they are doing. I have had the privilege of collaborating with a number of playwrights on new work over the years, both in New York and here in Boston. It has been a highlight of my career and one of my favorite parts of being an actor – the challenge of creating a new role, the blessing of having the playwright alive and in the room to answer questions and discuss the play, and ultimately to share a story that’s never been seen before with an audience.
From The Deep is very special to me; so special that I decided not to audition for any fall or winter shows so that I can focus on preparing for this role. I’ve done three staged readings now and have been moved to tears each time I’ve read the play to myself, in nearly every rehearsal, and in each public reading. Every time I read it I discover something new, and I am amazed at the intricacy and depth of the writing. Cassie’s play is complicated, full of conflict, full of love, and takes the audience on a roller coaster journey into the heart of the mystery of the human condition. We had a large audience for the last reading, and when we finished, there was first a palpable silence and then a very intense talkback. It was further proof to me that audiences want complex material, they want to be challenged, to be moved, to leave haunted by unanswered questions, to be changed by the experience. It’s no surprise to me that this play was chosen to be honored at the Kennedy Center. It’s objectively a stunning play. In fact, I initially thought I wouldn’t be cast and wanted to help get it produced anyway after doing the readings because I believe in it and feel strongly that this story needs to be told onstage.
There will be many ways of supporting Boston Public Works and From The Deep, including spreading the word, coming to see the shows, ushering, donating props, donating time to help with marketing, joining the mailing list, etc. But right now, the most pressing need is money. Any amount will help. So please join me and the many others who want to see these plays on stage and these artists hard at work preparing to give everything they’ve got to the citizens of Boston over the next three years. We’re doing this because we love theater, because we love Boston, and because there’s always room for more love and more theater.