YBY ep 241: Sarah Mikayla Brown on originality and creative experimentation!
This week on Yes But Why, we talk to improviser and arts educator, Sarah Mikayla Brown.
Sarah Mikayla Brown is a performer, educator and producer based in Lafayette, Louisiana. She is an ensemble member of Silverbacks Improv Theatre, RagTag, and The Family Dinner (Baton Rouge). She is a graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the improvisation program at the Annoyance Theatre in Chicago. Brown co-founded and produced the Chicago Fringe Festival, which went on to have an adventurous 10-year run. She also recently took up performing stand-up comedy.
In our conversation, Sarah and I talk about the avant garde theater we did in our twenties. Sarah told me about her experience creating the original work “Cajun Face,” with Lian Cheramie, and how she loves exploring her own Cajun culture in her art. We chat about creative experimentation, building community, and teaching the next generation of artists.
Support Sarah Mikayla Brown by following her on Instagram and by following her improv group on Facebook.
You can also check out Sarah’s upcoming events:
December 18th – Family Dinner Spoof Night – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Manship Theatre, Baton Rouge, 7:30pm
December 21st – Silverbacks Improv Theatre – 9th Annual Holiday Show – streaming on Facebook at 7pm
Yes But Why Podcast is a proud member of the HC Universal Network family of podcasts. Visit us at HCUniversalNetwork.com to join in on the fun.
This episode of Yes But Why podcast is sponsored by audible – get your FREE audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at http://www.audibletrial.com/YESBUTWHY.
This episode of Yes But Why is also sponsored by PodcastCadet.com. Swing on by PodcastCadet.com to get help for all your podcasting needs! Go to PodcastCadet.com and put in offer code YBY20 to get 20% off your first consultation!
Click to play OR right click to download
(production notes: recorded phone call with Rodecaster on 12/7/2020)
TRANSCRIPT by otter.ai
Hello, yes, but why listeners? This is your host Amy Jordan. Welcome to yes but why Episode 241 my chat with improviser and arts educator Sarah Mikayla Brown. But first, let’s connect with my sponsors. So our first sponsor is of course audible. Get your free audiobook download and your 30 day free trial at audible trial.com forward slash yes but why this would be a great gift for anybody on your list who likes to read but maybe doesn’t have time like me? You don’t have to buy me this I actually already have it and use it every day. Audible is available on most of the devices in your house mind to go now and sign up and then you can get your free audiobook download at audible trial comm forward slash yes but why the next sponsor of this episode is podcastcadet.com podcast cadet is dedicated to helping people like you navigate the uncharted waters of podcasting. Let podcast cadet get you started. Ask podcast cadet for help with your existing podcast. No matter what your question podcast cadet can help us code YBY20 when you contact podcastcadet.com, and you’ll get 20% off the workshop or service you buy. This week on yes but why we talk to Sarah Mikayla Brown performer, educator and producer based in Lafayette, Louisiana, and our conversation, Sara and I talk about the avant garde theater, Cajun culture and teaching the next generation of artists. I now present to you Yes, but why Episode 241 Sarah Mikayla brown on originality and creative experimentation. Enjoy. I’m Amy Jordan, and this is yes, but why? podcast? Yeah.
I have a famously terrible memory by the way.
Me too. Make feeling better.
Yeah, I have to tell myself it’s because I live. So in the moment that I don’t think about the past. So I know.
Oh my god. Yeah, I guess that’s kind of an improv frame of mind.
I mean, yeah. I don’t know. I feel like it did happen a lot more. When I was when I started doing improv. You know, I just started living in the moment and, and now I’m I, I find it easier, you know, than dwelling on all the other things when I start thinking about everything. I it gets overwhelming, right. But if I’m in the moment, not too bad. Not too bad. Yeah, all that right.
I sometimes contemplate the future but it’s very rare for me to sit and just mull over the past that just not helpful. What’s your say? Yeah, yeah,
I guess I don’t do that either. I’m not really into. Plus, the nature of being a theatre person for most of my life has been short term relationships. So I feel like I’ve kind of just leaned into it. You know, cuz like I went from. I did college, regular college. But then after college, I started doing theater internships, and you just go from gig to gig. So it’s like, I’d work on a play with this crowd of people and you get like, super close, and everything’s really exciting. And then that Show’s over. And then you go do another thing. And like, I don’t know, you get you get used to short term relationships. And I’m just not great at like, following up. I have like, maybe a handful of people from various gigs along the way that I’ve stayed in touch with but a lot of people I just don’t, and not for lack of love. We had a great time, you know, but I just don’t
worry, you know, the five close friends is all you need. I think you’re doing fine. Yeah, you can’t possibly you can’t maintain close relationships with everybody you’ve done theater with. Oh, my God even thinking about that is overwhelming to think about. Right. So yeah,
I mean, even like I was talking earlier about how like, you know, I built the podcast for my students. Sometimes I want to say to them like this is only your first scene. You probably will have other scenes. Like I’ve had three or four like because gigs are different. gig, great, you work on one play or you work on one event, and then it’s over great. But then there’s your scene, like you live in a place. And while you’re in that place, you’re in that scene, right? When you move to another place, you’re not in that scene anymore, you’re now in a different thing, you know, or that scene fizzles. And now when it’s something different now, you know, like, so you, you get used to the change of that purely because theater is just not a theater is not one of those jobs you get, and you keep for the rest of your life. You know, you just kind of I mean, maybe theater in the large senses, but like, you know, you don’t, there aren’t jobs that you can just have. And then I mean, maybe there are, maybe that’s what I should be looking for when it with interviews as we finding people where it’s like, what do you been working 60 years? Tell me everything I need to know how to do it?
Well, you know, I mean, there’s the teaching, like we were talking about earlier, but it’s like, yeah, you know, teaching kind of has this thing. Well, you know, if you do it for 30 years, you’ll get your pension. And it’s like the thought of doing the same thing for 30 years is just completely mind boggling to me. You know, I guess this theater people, we kind of have that Gypsy like quality that keep it moving? Yeah, I
guess. I mean, I, the keep it moving, I think is also what sort of allows us the fluidity to experience different points of view to right like, like you’re doing plays, you’re doing different characters, you have to be able to adjust your mindset from one character to another, right? I mean, like, like every interview you’ve ever heard with, like actors who play bad guys, they say like, well, I don’t think of him as bad guy. I just think of a guy going through something, right. So that means that person has to, like consume the idea of it and then give you a character, right? But they’re not that guy. And then they go do another character. They’re not that guy either. But they have the fluidity to be able to adjust. Right. And maybe that skill is also what takes away the ability to a keep long term memory. And be and be, you know, have a lot of like, have 1000 really close friends. I don’t think anybody has really close friends anymore. I mean, not like in the Facebook world. You know what I mean? where it’s like, I have 1000 friends? Yeah. I don’t know who they all are. Oh, man. All right. So when you were a little kid, did you perform for your family and stuff? Or, you know, did your car trickle interests come up later?
I absolutely was that kid that performed for my family. In fact, I have all these pictures. I guess starting about three years old, I started getting into like costumes. And there’s like this really simple, just sleeveless, blue cotton dress that I wore, you know, like that, that kid that has that dress they have to wear like every day. It was like that. And I don’t know if it was like the skirt was like sort of twirly or something. But I’ve always wanted to be wearing a costume. Like ever since I was a kid. And yeah, we would do little shows a little dance routines. I mean, it just kind of seems like it’s that instinct has always been there in a way that’s kind of mysterious in some ways. You know,
did you play with your, like parents or your brothers and sisters,
I would say I probably like, forced my brother to get involved. My parents are not really particularly like, interested in performing arts or have anything at all about that. Like, I don’t know where it comes from. It’s kind of interesting, like, my parents are very, like, just salt of the earth, you know, hardworking. People, we grew up out in the country and been like, I’m this, you know, theater person have always been that way. And, and my brother’s a musician, like, we’ve just got all this creativity coming out of us. And we kind of joke about like, where’d it come from? You know, so I shouldn’t like, talk about my parents that way, because they are creative in their own way. Just not in that, I guess, in such a structured formal way.
Well, you know, I’d say that, like, expression of creativity, I think skips generations, because, and I say this from my point of view as a parent. I think that there’s an ebb and flow to like how people, you know, parents, right, so like, you’re always trying to give your kids what you didn’t get, right. So if you think some part of your childhood was lacking, you’re going to do more of that in your parenting, right? But then whatever it is that you got, your kids don’t get. And then they themselves will end up parenting like your grandparents. Right. So, so it was probably your grandparents that were creative. But maybe they wanted to be creative. But you know, if you think about the time period, people weren’t exactly like, Yeah, get a job in theater. That’s fine. So I’m sure they were like squashed down. And then they told their kids Hey, work hard. That’s the most important thing. No other things are important. Go. Right. Yeah, that’s what everybody told them. But you don’t think any your grandparents were maybe the funny ones. I myself was saying the same, where I was like, Where the heck did I get this, like comedy gene until my grandfather got really sick. And finally, he wasn’t drunk all the time. Sorry, grandpa. But out when he was finally detoxed, and we can talk to him like a regular human. He was hilarious. Like he was making jokes and like doing stuff, and I was like, that’s why I’m funny. That’s the guy right there. But I didn’t know I’d never. I mean, the guy was not the guy you talk to. For a long Yeah, until he got old enough. And sick enough that he was like, Well, I’m dropping this veneer. I’m gonna start being myself. We’re like, hey, you’re pretty fun.
No, I like that question. I hadn’t really ever thought about it like that. But my maternal grandfather, who I was very close to. I mean, he grew up in the depression. You know what I mean? Yeah, yes. leave school after eighth grade to like, help the family survive. But he was very funny. He loves to tell. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Boudreau and tibideaux jokes. So I, I grew up like with the cultural identity of sort of being Cajun Creole. And locally, we have these little series of jokes about these two characters, Boudreaux tibideaux and their khuong. That’s to say, they’re just like, really, kind of stupid, and they’re always making like ridiculous, you know, mistakes and messing with each other. So my grandpa had endless like Boudreau and tibideaux jokes. He loves to tell them and make everybody laugh. And you just had a great personality and was like, just very well loved and really good about like, you know, like he was in Knights of Columbus, and all these little organizations, and everybody knew him, you know, so I can definitely see some of that in me.
Yeah. There are different people that have creativity in them. And they, they use it in different ways. You know, I mean, not everybody wants to be in a play. Not everybody wants to do improv. Very few people want to do improv, but, you know, like, there’s, there’s different ways to do I mean, think about, think about like political speech writers. They probably would love to write a screenplay. But turns out, they went to law school because mom told them to. So now they’re writing these great monologues that people are given. And their speeches, you know, it’s just different, like a different way to use the skill. Like I like the idea that you’re, you know, grandfather was like, neighborhood friendly guy telling jokes. I mean, exactly. That’s how he used it. That’s how he channeled his creativity to be friendly and kind to people around him. That’s a solid. Yes. You
know, making friends laugh. Yeah. jumping ahead, I guess a little bit in the chronology of my life. Life I’m sure I did. I had this, this one really high point, which was this a two woman show that I wrote and performed with my friendly and Caucasian face. I’m actually had a sequel occasion face to the toffees, which is like a fancy, you know, being an annotation parlance. But anyway, the first Cajun face, my grandpa was still alive. I mean, he died at 96. So we were very lucky to have him as long as we did. But he got to see the original Cajun face, which was really like this funny kind of sketch. Like, but also kind of, like, heartwarming show, like about our experiences growing up with this cultural identity. And it was just really cool that he got to see it and like my mom said, like, he was, like, sitting there like he was laughing so hard. He was like slapping his knee, you know? Some of them um, yeah, this this one particular sketch, which was like, you know, like the idea like your mama’s so this, yeah, that kind of concept. So we had these two kind of companion sketches like one was earlier in the show and it was like, your so occasion like, blah Blah, blah, blah, blah and versus this. We were kind of playing these like 1950s girls, because there was a period in our history where it was like, looked down upon to the occasion like it was kind of like lower class when patients were becoming like Americanized. And then that’s what he was nice laughing about. And then later, we kind of mocked the idea like now it’s like a badge of honor to be like Cajun Creole. So now you get insulted for being to America, American, you know.
where’d you grow up?
I grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana. And I haven’t lived here my whole life. But I am. I’m back here now. So
all right. Ah,
My husband’s family is from maamoun. Okay, yeah. Cool. So he has a similar identity. So it’s nice to hear about all the comedy that you were doing both you and your grandfather, you know, around all the Cajun culture. That’s really fun. He’d love that.
Yeah. Mahmoud got one of the I’m sure you know, but like one of the most famous Mardi Gras. Yeah, yeah. I mean, Louisiana really has its hooks in me. You know, I’ve tried to get away and I probably will move again someday. But there’s something that brings me back to it. I don’t think it’s done with me yet.
Yeah, I find that with a lot of people who live in Louisiana. But I mean, also, like, there’s nowhere in the whole other, the whole rest of the country that even understands what being Cajun is. So I mean, if that’s something that you you identify with, of course, you’d stay in an area where, you know, people know what you’re talking about. And like, how it you know, how it affects your life. And there’s other people around that connect with that for sure.
Yeah, and it’s a constantly developing evolving story, like of our people in our identity and how we look at ourselves. And I guess I don’t know if this podcast is supposed to be funny or not. To get like, too serious, but oh, no, it’s okay. It’s about your life. Why not? Okay. But I mean, with everything that’s been happening this year, Black Lives Matter. And just this movement is I think a lot of us are thinking more critically about our identity. And just like, the ways that white people have basically just like taken all of the, like enslaved people’s traditions and like talked about them being caged and things, you know, yeah, it’s very, it’s very complicated, man. It’s super complicated. And even the word Cajun, I mean, I’ve literally written like, two plays that have Cajun in the title with my friend, but like, even the word itself has gotten to me, like, increasingly complicated, the more I learn about it, and so I’m still kind of trying to figure out how to, I don’t even know how I identify anymore. I mean, what I can say is that, you know, growing up in semi rural Louisiana, with grandparents whose first language was French, and the way that we ate the way that we conduct our lives, I mean, it definitely impacted me. I don’t know, you know, that you can put a word on it, but it was it’s definitely a special way of life. That has formed who I am, you know? Yeah.
Yeah, totally. When you when you moved to Chicago, and spent time there, did you bring some, you know, cultural remembrances? Or did you celebrate different things that, you know, maybe your friends in Chicago were like, what, what’s this?
Yeah, I mean, when I was living in Chicago, you know, you tell people that you’re from Louisiana, and that’s just exciting to people, you know, I was, like, almost sort of exotic there. Of course, at the same time, I was like, having the reverse experience of like, getting to know lots of kinds of people that I had not met before, you know, Chicago has, like, the biggest population of Polish people outside of Poland. So, like, I can pretty much confidently say like, I’d never met a Polish person, you know, before I moved to Chicago, so, you know, Polish people and also just like, you know, Jewish people because where I grew up here in Louisiana, South Louisiana, it’s like, heavily predominantly Catholic. So that was kind of what I was used to, but this meeting people just from different backgrounds, and or even just like Midwesterners, it’s like Midwestern accents, like, you know, like the old SNL sketch like dubbed bears. But you know, all of that was like, exciting to me too. So I mean, I but of course, I would get homesick and When I tried, my mom would send me care packages and like, send me Leanna foods. And there’s quite a few of us from Louisiana there at the time. So we also tried to like cook, Louisiana foods and that kind of thing. But at this, I definitely think I did feel like a sort of sense of displacement. Even though I love cities and love being Chicago.
Did you go to Chicago for college?
No, I graduated here in Lafayette at the University of Louisiana. But I just shot out like, a bat out of hell, like right after college, just like a few months later, me my friend moved to Chicago. And I mean, really, it was to do theater, you know? Yeah, that was, that’s what my goal was, was to be an actress. And the journey that I had there, I mean, like, life always takes you in strange ways that you weren’t expecting, you know, but I mean, I kind of started auditioning right away, which I was terrible at. And I’m still kind of horrible at listening. I fell in with this one group of kids who are all graduates from, oh, Canada, the name of their school, they were all kind of coming out of this other Midwestern like small liberal arts college. And so I ended up getting cast, the first play, I got cast, and it was called Ragnarok. And it was this original play that was about the, you know, the end of the, as you do the North Ragnarok. And we performed it in a church. And the whole play was performed on top of like, this big table while the audience sat around it. Yeah, it was awesome. It was so weird, and so cool. And I loved it. So I kind of fell in love with that group. It did that for a while. Um,
finally got it all like avant garde plays that they wrote, or was it avant garde plays that they just found, or
it was all avant garde plays that we wrote, I was just an actor, and Ragnarok. But as I kind of became more folded into the company, which was called pantelis, by the way, tantalus Theatre Company, I got pantelis, which is kind of based on the Greek story of a guy who’s hungry, and like, he’s trying to reach for the grapes that they keep disappearing from him, and he tries to lean down to get water and like, you can’t drink the water. I guess this imagery is always seeking. Yeah, but it was pretty, um, we did a lot of like, mythic kind of stuff, or kind of that kind of thing. I mean, it was pretty short lived. Yeah, um, Ragnarok was pump of fun. We did a show that was a original musical based on the jungle, where my character tap dance themselves to death.
a show that I helped write as well, we kind of wrote it as ensemble, it was called tour Toy Story. No, that’s not what it was called. Maybe it was called that it can be called for story. I’m thinking of the movie. toy chest maybe. And the audience had to it was like an interactive show. And it was set in this big room. And the audience would go to this station that each had like this toy, human like playing a toy. And they had to figure out how to like, get the toy to come to life by like doing something. For example, there was like a jack in the box, Who’s the girl was like, in a box. And they had to do something that somebody had to take apply to the face for her to come out of the box. So anyway, I mean, I could go on that show was wild, but that’s the kind of thing we were doing. It’s just experimenting with the form, you know?
Yeah. I love it. I love it. That’s so awesome. What a great like, coming out of college going to Chicago doing this, like avant garde stuff. I love it. Oh, man. I’m thinking about all the guards. I’m like, oh, man, there was never a jack in the bugs that record a pie in the face.
Yeah, and then so I, I, my character was like a velveteen. Rabbit. And I was like the finale of the show. And my character would determine if the audience won the show or not. And what would have to happen for me is that I had like a little tea set, like, like, like a little garden, like that my character would hang out in and I was like a non verbal like bunny. And I’m an audience member would have to come forward and share like a deeply personal story. Like, tell me a story. and by extension, the audience, you know, and I’m both pretty cool. Like we have some some movie experiences.
Man did these people go like go on to do meow wolf? Like That sounds very like immersive theater like they’re doing or like they were doing right before the pandemic?
Yeah, well, this was, um, yeah, we’ve all I mean, I’ve kind of kept in touch with them, mostly, you know, online, but everybody’s scattered to the winds. Glenn, who is the artistic director, he lives in Poland, actually now. He married a Polish woman. And, you know, Poland is one of the seats of some of the most incredible experimental theater out there with like, the issue of borkowsky and all that. So he’s done a little bit of theater there. And, yeah, I mean, most people have. I mean, we’re all just like grown ups. Now. You know, I mean, I’m like a great example of that. Because like, now I’m, I’m a theater teacher, you know, just more subdued, of course, it’s great. Like you were saying, like, have those stories to tell the kids about my students? Like, yeah, man was one time when I was in Chicago doing this crazy thing. And
also, your experience of having done that opens your mind up to what the kids could present to you? You know what I mean? Like, if they’re like, Okay, I’m gonna do this thing. I’m a clock. And I have to explode at the end if you win. And you’re like, Alright, I got All right, good. Great. How do we show the explosion? You know, if you’re not saying, No, you don’t do that? You know, your answer is like, do you have roller skates? Like, you know,
I mean, I’m, like, endlessly fascinated with like, theater, and just like the way that people use it in the way that it continues to morph and expand. Yeah, I love
- And each region has a different view of it. So it’s so cool that you get to, like, spend time with, you know, kids in school, because you get to see so many different like, ways in which they are, they’re a little artists like processing the world, right? So you get to like, see how they do that. And that’s so awesome.
It is awesome. The program that I teach in Louisiana is called talented. And it’s a statewide program. We have three branches, visual arts, music, and theater. And so what I do, I teach in a rural Parish, St. Martin Parish, and the kids that are in my program have been like, tested by independent auditors. And they’re, they’ve been deemed as quote unquote, like talented in theater, whatever that means, right. And I work with them. A lot of times one on one, or in super small groups. And a lot of what we do is write original work. So I mean, I do have to do a fair amount of just showing them like what a script looks like, you know what I mean? I’m giving them the basics. But if every now and again, and I just like, relatively frequently, like I have these super creative kids, like you’re talking about, and I get so excited, when those kids come along, that are just like bursting with ideas. Yeah, and I get to help them form what they’re going to do. I had this one kid a couple years ago that did a performance piece that was, um, like Alice in Wonderland. And it was kind of set on this like game board. And she had, I think, like, 12 different little pieces that represented like different parts of the Alice story. And an audience member would like pick a number, and she would go to that number and perform that piece. And then pick another number, and she’d go to like, another part of her board and do another part of the story. I don’t know. Oh,
yeah. That is fascinating. I like that. Wow, really cool stuff. I mean, you have to, it’s great that you’re there for those students, because like, you know, without teachers, letting them know that they can do that, you know, they they won’t, and they’ll think like, Oh, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t think this way. Oh, this isn’t the way a story goes. Because that’s not the way movies are or something like that. It’s like, No, no, yeah, everything exists. There’s a handful of them. And you know, not everybody’s into it all the time. But you need to express yourself the way you need to because all of a sudden, we could all need to do something different. Like I was totally reticent to use zoom before the pandemic, and now everybody’s on zoom, and they have to figure out how to do theater on zoom. And it’s like, what, but they’re adjusting because there’s like a new, you know, roadblock between them and creating theater. That’s not just regular life. Right.
Yeah, I mean, it’s gonna be interesting, because we’ve all been doing this intense training for a year and like teleconferencing. You know. So when things go back to normal, quote, unquote, like, we just gonna have so many more tools at our disposal. I mean, just be interesting. I mean, I think the world does feel smaller and a lot of ways. You know, like, I’ve been doing some online collaboration with people like in different locations, or, you know, I met you doing a show that way. Yeah. So, it’ll be interesting. It’s just, I mean, the world is gonna be different period.
When you when the pandemic started, did you jump right into collaboration with different people? Or did you like, take time to figure out, like, your new schedule of life and then start taking stuff because you even mentioned like a workshop that you did, as well. So like, you’ve been involved? Way more involved?
Okay, let me tell you how this went down. So, the day it happened for me was like March 14, or maybe it was March 13. Um, we, like literally my students had their showcase the next day, and school was shut down. So it was canceled. Everything just came to such an abrupt halt. And it was the craziest feeling because, you know, earlier this year 2020, like January through early March, February, this year was one of the busiest months I’ve ever had in my entire life. Hmm. I was, I was the emcee for a giant Mardi Gras ball that had like 1500 people there. Um, we did Cajun face, too. I forgot another huge project. Oh, we do this project here called the improv Rumble, which we, it’s just this fun, like competitive improv show. We just do it like once a year and it kind of brings everybody together. It’s like a massive show with like 40 improvisers, like 300 audience members. So I had all that in February. So when like, the whole world came screeching to a halt, I just had the most strange feeling because I was used to working at such a frenetic pace. Um, school was closed, I was still getting paid, like, which is amazing. And I’m so blessed that I’ve never had like a disruption in income. But um, you know, the school systems were like completely flailing and, like, didn’t know what the heck was going on, you know, so I just had all this free time on my hands and I could not deal. You know, like we I started producing this little series called a supercollider slumber party. So it was, um, every night at 9pm. We did post, like an improv scenes that people from our community had done. So I did that for maybe like three or four weeks, until I finally was like, Okay, I don’t have to do this every day. You know? Yeah, I had signed up for a class with the annoyance out of Chicago, a sketch class, an online sketch class. And I just was like, it was almost like you were I was running so fast. And I couldn’t just like, stop. You know. So I just was like, frenetically, like, still working. And finally, like, somewhere around. I don’t know, I guess, early May or so or late April. I’m just finally just like, I can stop. And so I kind of started falling into not doing much of anything, which, you know, at times, maybe you could call I don’t know, say depression. But it was also just an opportunity. Because, I mean, I’ve been going nonstop for my entire life. You know? Yeah. So, um, I just, I feel like this year’s just completely singular. And it’s so interesting. And I’m a big journaler so I’ve been writing a ton in my journal just trying to process this year and yeah, I’ve gotten quieted down a lot. I’m not doing a lot right now. And I’m just kind of taking the opportunity to, I don’t know, process everything. Think think about what I really want. Like, I’m gonna be 40 in January, so it’s kind of like, you know, what is I guess you’re over the hill. They say at that point. I mean, it’s a big milestone birthday. So it’s just time for I just like, it’s a good time to assess everything.
Yeah, man. What a terrible year to be 39 it’s like such a precipice. Okay, here I mean, not necessarily an age. I had a good my 30s I’m 42. Now I’m feeling good about it. Feeling good about it. Me and my other 40 something friends good, we’re good to different, two different vibe, you know, but I enjoy it. I enjoy it. I like I like being wacky to people, especially these days, there’s not a lot of wackiness in the world anymore. You know, everything’s very serious. Like when you go out in the world, you know, like, you’re at the grocery store, like you’re at the gas station, or whatever. Like, I used to make jokes with everybody all the time. And now you just don’t. So I try occasionally to connect with at least one person when I’m out in the world, even if it’s just a raised eyebrow or live room. Can’t believe they make this cereal on the right. Like just little things, just to connect. And it’s, um, I’m gonna say that I’ve said this to people before, and they’re like, that’s really intense. And I’m, like, I, the thing that I miss the most is like, small talk with strangers.
Oh, man, you know, that makes me think of So this year, I signed up to be a poll worker, because you know, we were all hyped about the election. So I was a poll worker. And I felt like that day and in early November, like the main election, I had so much fun. Just like chit chatting with the other co workers and the people that came through and actually just worked the run off last Saturday. And you talking about that made me think about this lady that came in because she you know, everybody has to wear a mask now. Yeah. And she has this mask that has like a clown face on it. Like it had like the red circle knows. Yeah, like the smile. And like, it was so delightful and funny. You know? Yeah. Like, all of us. Were just like, oh, like commenting about her mask and like chatting with her and you know, even something tiny like that, you know? Yeah, like really make people smile.
Yeah, totally. I like that. That’s fun. That’s fun. Like, can I attach a red nose to my mask? Um, yeah, it’s super fun. Yeah, I just like to be silly or do something weird. So that people will laugh. Because there’s not a lot of laughing. And everyone’s just real serious. And when when you’re outside in the world amongst people, it can be a little, you know, like high stress where you’re like, oh, what’s happening? Is everyone out to get me? Very Woody Allen. It’s terrible.
Well, I like to say things that I love weird things which probably came through and I was talking about Pamela’s theatre group. But anytime like that, Oh, man. Oh, yeah. 100%. But when I see something like in the world, that’s Oh, you know what, I, I’m gonna put a pin on something in my mind to bring up in a moment. But anytime I see something that’s just like, unusual, or kind of takes me out of my routine, or somebody doing something quirky. Like, I’m here for it. You know? Like, I love that stuff. Yeah, yeah. So this Saturday actually, coming up, which will be, you know, it will have passed by the time this podcast comes out. But I’m doing like sort of a performance rd kind of thing at the local art center. It’s called the do nothing sit in. And I’m leading this event that’s basically going to be like leading a group of people in doing nothing. Yeah. So that’s pretty weird. Um, I got the idea from a TED talk with or something like a TED talk with Tracy. Let’s play, right. Yeah. He’s talking about, like, how to be creative. And one of his points was that we don’t flow down to like, do nothing. And like, he’s not he’s like, specifically like, he’s like, I’m not talking about meditating. Like, at all. He’s like, just like, sit in the chair. I’ll allow a window is what he says. And like, just let your mind wander. You know, you get ideas. Yeah, cuz, surely, like, we do not do that now. Because we’re always the second you have a moment you’re on your phone. You know, I’m guilty of it. Certainly. I mean, that’s just like who we are as a culture at this point. But I’m not allowing our brains to get bored at all. You know, it’s like the death death knell of creativity. Oh, yeah.
Sometimes I wonder if what happened with the pandemic was like, it was a reinvigoration of our creativity. Like we were all sort of stuck in we had good technology. We could do what we wanted. Everything was fine. And now it’s like, here’s a weird wrench. Mm hmm. Good luck. Hi.
Yeah. I mean, it’s certainly with even with all the bad things that have come with it. You know, I would never, like deny that but, um, it’s an experiment new way to live for all of us. I mean, it’s, obviously none of us have ever experienced anything like this in our lives, just everything being massively different. Yeah, and how you cope with that, and how it makes you look at your life from a new perspective. I mean, it’s, it’s endlessly fascinating. Yeah. I mean, that’s something that I really, I need to come up with a way some kind of project to get my students to really reflect on this.
I was about to ask, actually, that was my next question. I mean, you’re creating performance art pieces to reflect on this idea of doing nothing and you know, using it for creativity, how, how have you? And, you know, doesn’t have to be like, how are you making them do it, but like, in the art that has been created online with your students this year? You know, how, how are they dealing with it?
I, honestly, a lot of what some of the more impactful things I’ve been doing, what the students is reading American classic plays, which is not something that we do that frequently. Um, but it’s been interesting to like, kind of just have the time because it’s something that can work really well in that format and online class. It’s like, I mailed them a copy of A Raisin in the Sun or The Glass Menagerie of you from the bridge, and they get it at their house, and we go through it and like we read it, and we process it and seeing them get so excited about these plays. It’s been really exciting. Now, I mean, Now granted, it’s not necessarily a reflection on the current moment. But I think we’re gonna get there. Yeah, cuz I haven’t until till May. So um, if maybe, who knows? Maybe it’s a do nothing fit in. I’m gonna have like that lightning strike. idea of a project to do with my kids skill is like, kind of that idea. Like you always get your best ideas in the shower, or kind of when that kind of thing. So I’m always driving when I
get my best ideas.
Oh, we’re perfect. So that’s when you can’t take a note
taking out? Yeah, and I’m very bad. My phone does not know what I sound like. When I tried to do the like, audio note things comes out.
I know what, like, when I when I do those, I have to like, sound like I’m training at the Royal dramatic Academy of the arts. Like you have to speak so clearly and put a pause, you know, that kind of thing. And then your phone might understand you.
Yeah, when I’m like trying to press it at like a red light. And while I can have this great idea, it’s like no,
no, if I don’t write it down, it’s gone. Gone. totally gone. Like everything has to get written down.
Yeah. Yeah, I don’t even write half the ones I write down. But. But I, if I don’t write them down, they’re never going to get to the page.
that being said, there are some ideas that do reappear. And I have faith in those. Like, if this is a good enough idea. It’ll come back to me, and
sometimes they do. Oh, I like that.
Yeah. Because if it’s something that fascinates you enough, it’ll come back.
Well, it’s like people say, who write screenplays that they or that write novels that they’re like, the the characters are talking to them. And they have to, like, put it out there. Like, they’re like, this person won’t leave me alone. So I have to do this. And I normally I remember I read an article like that. And I was like, okay, not that I judge anybody for their creative process, if that’s how it works in their brain, hey, do it up, but does not work that way for me. And I was like, man, maybe I’m just not connected to characters What’s going on? Maybe I’m not doing it right. And then I had a screenplay that I finished and it was terrible is very bad. Very, very bad. But I got to the end of it, right? I wrote it when I finished it. And I was like,
okay, and I thought, am I gonna let this one go? Am I gonna like let this be done? And for a long time I have and occasionally I will come up with that character will pop up in my head, and I’ll write a quick thing in my notebook. Like, would if she did this instead? And then I don’t go back to it. I’m like, No.
Yeah, I mean, who knows? Maybe that characters not it’s not through if you like, maybe it wants to come through in another format or something.
But I also think like you have to be Maybe I need to experience something else to to know what it is, you know, like, so I found a good break through around. around Halloween, there was a movie like a Halloween movie that I watched and it gave me a good idea. And I was like, Oh, so that I wrote down that one, and I’m still feeling that idea out. But I watch a lot of kids movies now. And I didn’t used to write at all. But I was like, maybe I need to rewrite this. Like it’s a Disney movie, as opposed to like imagining it to be this like hard hitting gritty, or even like light romantic comedy. It’s like, okay, who are you writing this for? Maybe you need to write it for 12 year old girls. It’s like, okay, okay, maybe that changes the whole thing. Right? So I feel like you need to get to sometimes ideas float around in your brain. And they find their way back when it’s their time.
Yeah. I don’t know. I also like saying that to students as well, because I find that especially theater students have a tendency to self sabotage. You know? And if you tell them, like, you know, whatever idea you have, it’s fine. Maybe the idea that you have is the idea you need to have before you get to the idea. Like, yes, you know,
there. So I mean, maybe this is just human nature, but a lot of my students, they just can’t tolerate not being perfect, right out the gate, you know, oh, it’s ever and it’s like, that’s everyone, right? That’s all of us. But I mean, if you can give a student anything, like, the ability to have a rough draft, or just make it have an experiment, like, just try something, you know,
it’s take some convincing, though, sometimes, that’s for sure.
Well, in your 101 format, I’ve taught some recent one on one, like writing classes, and, you know, to get them to write at first, I’ll just do the writing. So I’m like, What is? What do you think she’d say, you know, and they’re like, well, she’d probably say this, I’m typing as they’re talking, like, okay, so she says, okay, so when, what’s he gonna say back? And we just do it slowly, bit by bit, you know, and then I’ve written three pages of a conversation back and forth on my clicker, we just do that. It’s done. And they’re like, Yeah, but it’s not perfect. Like, whatever, it’s the first draft, go back and change it if you want. But it’s done.
I’ve done a fair amount of, you know, the whole thing of improvising, and then writing, they can sometimes respond well to that. Just coming up with a concept, and you know, one project, and I don’t mind if people steal this if there are other teachers out there. But I have this one project that I actually came up with myself, that I really love. And what it is, is that I have this kid pick, I have like a stack full of magazine clippings, of people, like just all sorts of different people, and I call the project magazine people, and they pick a person, and then they come up with like a short biography of the person, then, as a group, then I’ll go and be like, okay, so they tell me about the person, I’m like, well, are they married? Like, I just keep asking them questions to help them flesh it out. Not like the only rule is you can’t say I don’t know, because like you’ve created this person. So let’s use your imagination. So they we flesh out the character profile, then it can go on and on. Sometimes I’ll have them do like a little silent movement piece of the person when they’re alone. And then, if there’s a group, a small group of two or three, and they’ve all done it, then we’ll like force the characters together. You know, in some way. Yeah. So I’ve created a couple pieces that way. Like, we’ll just be like, Oh, this person does an astronaut and this person and this and like, we just have to figure out how they all know each other.
Dude, magazine people sounds great for zoom too, because then you can just hold the magazine person up to the camera. And then and then you’ve got that that is your character. And they’re like, No, I don’t want to go to the video store. Why would I want to go? You know, when you can see the little face of the care of the person?
Yeah, that would be cute. I mean, yeah. puppetry in general, or things of that nature work really well.
Yeah, yeah, totally. That’s how when I did a one on one class with so many, we wrote a scene that had multiple characters and so I made I made a couple of them paper dolls. So like, I would pop up top of different people. Hey, what about this?
Oh my gosh, I love I love that.
Because I’m not gonna be like, we can only write two person scenes. No, we write whatever. We’re gonna All right, but then we have to act it out. So wait, how do we do this? I’d be like always have had scenario whenever we did that was like always have different hats cuz you can be three or four different characters we go so funny always have had that’s like a that’s like an active role just have
general yeah. Oh yeah nobody can wear a hat like a theatre person
oh god plus as a parenting thing like my kid loves hats now like cuz I just have a box of costumes from doing plays and theater for in comedy and whatnot. So I have so many hats. So I pulled out all the hats I wouldn’t mind getting destroyed. And I like gave him to him and he just has so many different he wears a different hat every day.
Oh, that’s adorable
Yang she’s super into it. It’s just really helpful because it’s like, it doesn’t require much in the way of like, you know, like some toys. It’s like you got to do this and then that you have a guy hat. He can be anybody. So how did you get to doing this? What sounds like a very sweet theater teaching gig from Chicago you’re doing experimental theater, you’re doing acting What led you to we already teaching in Chicago? And that led you back?
Oh, gosh, um, that was actually like a big chunk of missing in Chicago. That was really notable, which was that? I have it up out. Yeah. I hope found the Chicago Fringe Festival freeze. So did that for many years. Now Meanwhile, I mean, none of this paid. You understand? Right? Okay, I have my job. I had a day job at an office at a law firm, which was actually kind of cool in and of itself, because it was on like, the 45th floor of a skyscraper. So I got to have that, you know, city girl, big office building experience. Love it, which, yeah, um, but yeah, so we were running this Theater Festival. And I was kind of falling into more of an arts administration role that time versus performing. So I also kind of started taking improv classes around then that time. Um, so anyway, I ended up moving back to Louisiana. And at that time, I kind of saw these two roads open to me at that time, and Louisiana wishes like to keep pursuing this arts administration pathway, or maybe try to get like a teaching gig, which I didn’t really have a lot of teaching experience at that point. To be frank, but I kind of knew enough people were kind of thought I might be able to have a shot. But, um, I ended up doing arts administration first. So I was a development director for a local arts organization, which is essentially fundraising, which is one of the first jobs you can get if you’re interested in arts administration, because everyone hates fundraising. Turns out
Yeah, yeah. It’s not easy. No,
I don’t mind it, though. So I guess because I’m, especially for the arts, specifically, because I’m so passionate about the arts. So I did that for a while. I spent some time as a freelance grant writer, grant writing is kind of one of my favorite areas in art administration. And then, yeah, then I kind of ended up applying for one of these talents at the inner jobs of which is incredible, like, how many jobs are because like, every parish has to have teachers in this program. And, um, I mean, I think Lafayette, where I live, they have like seven talented theater teachers. I work for a more rural Parish, St. Maarten and we have to, but I mean, right there that’s like, and then I have other friends and another neighboring parish that do the same job. I mean, between us, it’s like, 12 Theatre jobs, just in this one program, you know? Yeah, it’s
really great. Yeah, it’s
great. Um, see, I started doing this and yeah, I mean, I’m just kind of, I used to say that I’m restless, make it sound like a bad thing. But I, I’m just interested in a lot of things. You know, I just like, I’m always kind of wanting to try something new, explore different parts of myself. I kind of compare it to it’s kind of interesting. One of my really good friends from high school is like in the Air Force, and she’s kind of a lifer. And the way that they structured is that she has two career paths. So they kind of dis flip her back and forth from like, one is kind of a more of like, office kind of supplies position. And the other one, she’s like a diplomat, like a French speaking diplomat. So every like three to six years, they kind of flip flopper between those two paths. So she has like two different professional strength. going. And that’s kind of how I feel my career has developed, like, I have the teaching side. And I also have this pretty strong like arts administration side of me. And of course, there’s also like the performer part. But I don’t know, I’ve kind of I don’t think that I have a desire at this point to earn a living from performing. Like, I just don’t think I’m interested in that.
Yeah. It’s a tough road. And it’s, it’s looking to get a little tougher.
Yeah, I mean, I think to me, it would really depend on the circumstances. But the idea of kind of being having to just kind of do anything fill any role, like, that’s just doesn’t interest me as much like I’d rather develop my own work and set it on myself. Yeah. You know, if that was somehow things took a turn of events, where my little plays that are right about my life, become like, so popular that that’s what I’m doing for a living, then I guess that would be one thing. But
you know, what? You’re talking about teaching your students, these American plays, but at one point, that person was like, man, should I write this story? I mean, this is just my life experience. Nobody wants to hear it. And now it’s a classic.
Right, so true. I mean, The Glass Menagerie is like basically autobiographical, Tennessee Williams.
Yeah, I mean, same thing with like, Long Day’s Journey. And tonight, Eugene O’Neill, you know, those are all based on their lives. You think somebody who the first guy who read Raisin in the Sun was like, now this is a solid piece that people need to hear, they were like, Hey, man, why don’t you go ahead and put that away, cuz that’s a lot of deep feelings. We’re not into that. Like, you know, I mean, I’m sure a ton of it, you know, and between not only your stuff that you’re writing, but the fact that you are writing, and then you’re helping this next generation of kids, who, whether directly or indirectly, are going to process the world as it is, right. And, and, you know, feed off of the culture as it develops, and or develop the culture. Like, you know, they’re the the people that will create stuff for their generation. And so, if you’re in there training them to be able to, you know, represent their own point of view, and just put it out there and say, Hey, this is how I see the world turns out, who knows, there could be hundreds of 1000s of millions of people who are like, Oh, my God, no one’s ever said it like that before. And now I get, like, with all of it, you know, like, the plays that you’re teaching them, and then the just the, like, the idea of it is important for everybody’s story to get out. And I’m down for the creating your own thing, because we wouldn’t have gotten the great classical plays if somebody hadn’t created their own thing.
Absolutely, I mean, that’s what I’m really interested in, at this point, in my life, and for many years now is original work, either creating my own original work, or even, you know, improv, which has become more and more important to me over the years. I mean, it’s, it’s a creating your original work, you know, on the spot, it’s so creative. I don’t know, it’s really interesting to me, when I think back on my life, like I said, I’ve always been interested in performing, it’s just like, inherit, and I think when I was younger, you know, it was kind of like the fantasy of, you know, being a Broadway actor. It kind of had like, this touch of vanity to it, you know, like, kind of, like, wanting to be seen or, like, pay attention to me, you know, but as it’s developed over time, it’s just become way more has just way more depth to it now, and you know, maybe that was always there hidden somewhere. But I’m just like, I just want to be in service to the art form. And like, I just find it endlessly fascinating. I mean, I’m never tired of it. I just, I love theater. I love comedy. I love improv, like, I just want to learn about it. I just want to see as much of it as I can. I want to share it. And it’s like, that’s enough. You know, I don’t have to get rich doing it. I don’t have to get famous. I don’t have to be the best. Like, I just want to participate in it. You know, like, that’s my calling.
Yeah. Plus, there’s so many, like you now that I’m, we’re a little bit older. And I promise to everyone, I’m much older than her. But like, you know, we can acknowledge what we really want out of out of the industry. Right? I like you. I’m like, Well, I just want to be able to do what I want to do. So if if, if I have to sacrifice some things to maintain that freedom for myself, Well, that’s how it’s gonna have to be right. Or, you know, I really want to entertain kids on mass, and I really enjoy wearing a mascot costume. Well, if we got a job for you, there are available jobs, you could be Mickey, it’s gonna be great. Like, you know, there’s just different things that you can do. You know, even even the even teaching theatre means that you’re immersed in it in lots of different ways I do. I do different classes for different age groups, right. And most of the time, I do a summer camp where I have the kids write their own comedy show, and then they and then we rehearse it and perform it for their parents, right?
Fabulous. And when
we create it, the beginning of the whole process is me getting to know them, and me, letting them know that whatever they say is going to work out. I go, what about this? Okay. How can we make it crazier? And I make jokes that like, my one rule is like, don’t get me fired? Oh, like, I’ll be like, and also know your audience, okay. Your parents are the audience. If we write that scene, are they gonna love it? They’re gonna be into it. They’re gonna like it as much as you guys do. Like, no, right? Maybe we don’t write that one, then. You know, I like certain ideas where it’s like, I’m like, hey, objectively, yes, that is funny. You’re correct. 100%. However, for the show that we’re developing, right at this very moment, who are we selling? Right? I mean, I used to do a sketch show. And the theater that I did the sketch show at the audience was primarily, like, 20, something liberal people. So I’m not gonna make a joke. That’s like, you know, kind of conservative? No, no. Even if it’s a good joke, even if you’re like, but it’s valid. Yeah, totally. But is the audience we have gonna like it? No. So don’t
put No, no, I’ve definitely had cause to have a conversation with kids before. Yeah. I mean, just the audience see, like, I was like, Look, we have to bring the audience with us. Like, if we get, you know, I was like, I acknowledge that you know, what sex is or like, you know, whatever the issue is, but it’s like, I know that you’re not a baby. Like, I hear you. You know, I was like, but you just have to think, like, if we do this, it just takes the audience completely out of it. You know? Yeah. And we’re trying to take them on a journey, you know?
Yeah. And I like to save that for the for the stuff that you guys are doing with just the teens, you can talk to other teens about that. But we’re doing it for the administration. Hmm. Right. Let’s lose the monologue about your puberty.
Right. Like, look, kid, like you have your whole life ahead of you says, do read or whatever you want to do, like, like, let’s just like, play with some fundamentals here.
Yeah. And then it’s also like, it’s kind of a phase. And you see see it a lot in stand up comedy, like that shock value stage that everybody kind of goes through. Yeah. So yeah, that’s kind of I mean, not to be blunt. But it is lazy to on a level, you know,
oh, yeah. low hanging fruit. That’s why they call it that.
Like, yeah, I could have made a joke about that, too. But I didn’t. Like, come on. Yeah, it’s fine.
I mean, sometimes like, you know, like the Masters like it can be sublime. Like when comedian like says something that no one else is willing to say. But that’s like after years and years of honing your craft.
Oh, yeah. I mean, these days, the only time you’re really going to get that is if the comedian has in such a financial position that they can say what they want, and they’re not going to go bankrupt. Yeah. So like, Jerry Seinfeld can say it. Chris Rock can say it. I think that might be it. Maybe Dave Chappelle, but
I don’t Yeah, Dave Chappelle definitely says whatever he thinks he does,
but he gets it he catches flack for it. So that’s why I like I don’t think he necessarily is in this particular like, like right now in comedy like as far as like real legit like still active and pushes the envelope, and yet are still super vanilla is Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. I mean, like they’re like the grandfather’s of our comedy right now.
I absolutely love Chris Rock. I have since high school. Oh, yeah.
Okay also features highly and a lot of family films, which I have enjoyed, as I’ve proved. Is my child’s favorite movie B movie made by Seinfeld, starring Chris Rock. Yes, it is. But that doesn’t mean that I’m biased. Right. But yeah, you know, people want to say what they want to say sometimes they want to push the envelope. But I mean, as far as as far as creating new works, are you you mentioned your journaling? Are you always developing new plays? Are you always working? Do you write on your own? Or do you work with other people? How’s your creative process work for you? Personally,
I’m, I’m really mainly a collaborator of at least thus far, and I’m kind of open to change. I’ve kind of been wondering about maybe wanting to, like, write something like because I’ve never really sat down and like wrote a play. You know, we’re talking earlier, like you’re saying how some authors say their characters like cost them and stuff. I mean, pretty much everything I’ve created has been like, I’ve, I don’t know, it’s been like about me, you know, like, the two Cajun face shows and that when I turned 35, I did a one woman show called spinsterhood. And apart from that, I’ve done a lot of Shakespeare, tons of Shakespeare, and tons of improv, and like a little bit of sketch comedy. I would actually really like to write more sketches. I feel like that’s like an undeveloped little talent that I have that I should play with, but
I don’t know.
But yeah, I, I’ve had the most fun when I’ve written with other people, like, written a sketch show with other folks there. The occasion face plays with my close collaborator, Leanne. That was his dream to work on. So but I wonder, I don’t know, I wonder there might be more in me, actually, was going through, going through some stuff at the house, and I found all my journals, and I stacked them all together. And it’s just huge back and I’m like, wow, like journaling a little bit here. And there really adds up, I just have a huge pile of books that are completely filled. And one of my friends commented on the picture, I was like, you know, you could write a play, like, if you’re writing that much, and I’m like, I guess I could, you know, to try. But I never, I tend to not think about like characters, you know what I mean? My work tends to be a little more like self reflective. Um, but, yeah, but this, hey, it’s 2020. You know, maybe we should be trying different things. You know, maybe I should write a novel? I don’t know.
I don’t know. That being said, like, if your particular skill is to focus on yourself, I’ve always been very envious of that. You know, I’ve known a lot of people that have done stand up, or one person shows or things where it’s like, about their own life. And while I have a handful of solid stories that I could tell, I just would never do that. And I’m not even saying it like, I would never do that. Like, like, that’s not a thing. That is cool. No, I think it’s so cool. I just, my brain does not process to like, put out my own life experiences as I’ve tried. I mean, heck, we were talking before we started recording on some heavy life experiences that I’ve been through. And I was like, should I write them into a screenplay? Like, is that a thing I need to process? And I maybe, but I don’t know why I do it right now. You know what I mean? Like, it’s, it’s almost too fresh.
Yeah, too soon at this point. Yeah. So I don’t know that you know? Mm hmm. No, it It truly is like one of my favorite forms of theatre expression to watch or to triple A so really, mainly the only thing I’ve created in terms of stuff I’ve written myself. I mean, also I love producing too. I love producing shows. Like here in Lafayette, my improv ensemble, Silverbacks improv, we’ve been together a long time, like almost 10 years. And the scene has really blossomed a lot over the last 10 years. And that’s just been really rewarding to like, be a part of that. And, you know, have started teaching classes and like, we have all these little troops going and we produce a show called supercollider. Well, you know, when there are improv shows, again, that is like brings together different troops from like, just from wherever, like around the south or around town and little group shows. Big improv rumble show I mentioned earlier, like I get a lot of satisfaction, just from the producing side. Yeah, so I definitely see that as being something that I’ll always do. I love to like create community, like arts communities, I like to wish you can see that the threads coming from like Chicago fringe kind of same thing like when we created the Chicago fringe. Something we really wanted to focus on our festival was to make everything walkable. So we have five venues and everything was within walking distance, like within a couple blocks. And that’s just in the years that it was really great. It just felt like this pop up village. You know, you’d walk around and see people with their little fringe buttons and their friend shirts. People are like, hey, like, what show did you go see? And they share the recommendations they talk about, which shows like totally terrible, which is like part of the fun of it, too, you know? Yeah, I love that.
Yeah. Sounds like you’re right. in the right position, though, between arts administration and arts education. If you like helping people develop new material and building communities, it seems like, that’s exactly where he do that. And yeah, to that end, like, like, the idea of how you process your personal skills into work that’s meaningful. You’ve done a good job of finding the things that you like to do, and then finding like, solid, well paying, hopefully, jobs that, you know, that are actually helping the arts and helping artists.
Yeah, thank you. Not, I mean, I’ve just, I’ve had a lot of stick to itiveness. And, um, I mean, my growing up, my parents were not excited about the whole theater thing at all, as a lot of parents are, yeah. They just didn’t really get it early. They certainly didn’t get it as like, a career, you know? Yeah. But, um, a few years ago, I was having, like, a casual conversation with my dad. And I mean, I think he kind of acknowledged like, that, I just stuck with it for all these years, you know, yeah, I just like grabbed on, and I never gave up. And now it’s, I’ve had a career in the art, you know? Now, it might not look how I always like imagined it would be, but I’ve just like, it is kind of interesting to like, really reflect on it, how everything kind of has these threads that like weave through each other and have expressed themselves? community and, you know, personal stories, original work.
Yeah, and how you can, you know, use all these threads that you have to, to move forward and do other future things.
Yeah, I try to continually, especially now that I’m getting older, I feel like people, a lot of times, get really, like marbleized. Snow is the word that came up, but just like, they are like a statue at some point. Like, they’re just like, nope, this is what I’m doing for the rest of my life. I’ve envisioned the next 40 years, you know, and I just don’t, I just like to stay a little more fluid and just keep, keep challenging myself to do different things or to not feel like I’m just because I’m getting older, and I have to work on my 401k or what have you that that means I can’t have adventures or do different things. I want to always be doing that.
Right, and creating and creating new, new works based on your life experience. I mean, how many plays and movies are set are about people in their 40s and 50s? Not a lot. Or they are it’s like, basic love stories? And you’re like, Okay, cool. I guess that’s what you can do. Right? You know, I talked to some people about that, you know, recently, there’s just not there, there’s not a reflection of, you know, that age group and culture in that group. Like 40s 50s 60s. They like there’s no real reflection of it in culture. In, in a, in a creative way. In a like, this is the cool way to live your life without it being unusual or like, wild, you know, like Sex in the City sort of opened people’s minds to the idea that it’s like, just because you’re over 40 doesn’t mean you’re not living. Right, but right. It’s not also not all all about sex. You know, sometimes it’s like I’m in the middle of a marriage, but that doesn’t mean I’m not exciting and trying new things and living an exciting life.
Yeah. I know it’s like it’s kind of like they could just transfer some of the plots that are starring like 20 somethings to 40 something like most of any, any a lot of times movies that are about people and they’re like 40s or 50s they’re having some kind of midlife crisis, or, you know,
I actually think, though, that everybody does have a midlife crisis Around this time, but it’s because there’s no outlet for them to know what to do with themselves. And like you mentioned, being fluid with whatever your path is. Right. The other thing that my my naivete has gotten me in trouble, as mentioned before, but my naivete also saves me from a lot of stuff. Somebody mentioned to me recently, like, Oh, well, you know, I don’t, I don’t think I get enough respect. Because I’m 40 something, woman. And I was like, Oh, I never thought about that. Like, I never, it never occurs to me that people are like, looking at me and making judgments, even though they definitely are. But I just don’t Yeah, I don’t let it hit me. So I was just like, oh, we’ll just do it. And then they don’t want you to I was like, I don’t know what they want. But I’m gonna do what I want.
Yeah, I’m that way too. Like. I think part of it is I went to this really great all girls school for high school. And personally, it was just a really great experience for me. And I think it’s just really set the stage for me to almost like not even think about my gender. Hmm, I hate to say that, but it’s like, I just plow forward. You know? Yeah.
Given your skills at writing, about your personal life experience, I look forward to, you know, seeing or reading the, the what this is what it’s like to be in your 40s from you.
Wow, wait, I’ve been thinking a lot about Western sisterhood. My 35 year old play was kind of like, because, you know, 35 is the, you know, for women like the famous drop off where your ovaries are shriveling up and all, you know,
I know, I had a baby at 39. They talked to me about it a lot.
Oh, yeah. Your geriatric pregnancy, I’m sure yeah. Oh, but I, at that time, I was I was kind of like reflecting on Okay, like, I see the different pathways ahead of me, like, do I get married have a baby like, Do I not. And now I’m kind of coming to the point where I find it very unlikely that I would have a baby. And like, I’ve been thinking about it a lot and have a lot of, I think, interesting thoughts about it. about what it means to be a parent or be a nurturer in the world, or like what gifts we have to bring forward that might not look like being a parent, you know. So I definitely want to do something with that. I don’t know if it’ll be another one woman show or like an essay, or I have some some part of me that is longing to be expressed about that topic. And I’m by far, like, not the only person that talks about this. In fact, I think I remember hearing something recently about Dolly Parton talking about it, because she’s never had children. And, you know, at least she’s just like, you know, if I had had my own kids, I wouldn’t have had the time to treat everybody as my kids. You know,
it’s true man without Dolly Parton. Hundreds of 1000s of children wouldn’t have books.
Right? I mean, she found out that incredible charity, and she’s done so much good work. And you there’s a lot of different ways to help kids. Yeah,
man, it never occurred to me that she didn’t have kids. I totally assume she did. Hmm.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s correct. No,
no, you’re probably right. You’re probably right.
I hope I’m right. Or else like someone is listening to this podcast and like banging their head against the keyboard.
At this point, only at this point in the episode, if they love me enough to make it this far, and they’ll they’ll send me a quick text about how I’m wrong, and it’ll be fine.
Yeah, it’ll it will have been my fault. In this case, though.
So one final question before I let you go, what advice do you have for people who are hoping to do theatrical stuff in their life, but you know, just don’t really know what path they should take?
Okay. So I guess in this case, we’re probably talking about a younger person. Maybe you’re someone who’s just getting into it.
Maybe he was just getting into it, but you never know how they might be.
True. I mean, I think don’t get too stuck in what you think theater should look like or what your role should be in it. Like be willing to experiment with different roles. Because that’s something that I’ve definitely done in my life. I mean, when I, when I started, I, I guess I hadn’t seen a lot, either, that’s fine. But I, you know, I really just kind of thought about, okay, I’m an actor, and I’m an Actor in a Play that playwrights I’ve written, you know. And even when I started doing improv, I had this very, like, attitude of like, Well, you know, I’m not really an improviser, and I’m an actor, you know. And one of my, I can teach my improvising, teachers in Chicago, like clocked it, and he was just like, look like, You’re funny. Like, you get improv, like, you don’t always have, you’re just you’re not an act, you’re doing impossible. You’re an improviser. So, stay, stay open to different kinds of work and experiment wildly with what, what you do in the industry, and especially when you’re hungry, like, do everything. You know, like, work on props, work on sets, create the Facebook page, learn a little, I mean, there’s so much that goes into this industry, like the marketing, the fundraising, the producing audience services. There’s just so many aspects to it. And so I would just say, like, stay open to that and wildly experiment with all the different ways to contribute. Nice, yeah, that would be my advice.
Nice. I figured it was a good setup for an advice question. Because, you know, you’re teaching people all the time who potentially are asking you these kinds of questions. You got students who are like, Well, what do I do with this? How
do I do this? Yeah, yeah, it’s kind of interesting, because like, most of most of my students aren’t interested in doing theater, like professionally, it’s kind of something they’re doing while they’re in school. So, I mean, a lot of them are, you know, are going on to be like, nurses, doctors, lawyers, oh, that’s like other careers. Yeah. That’s good. But I always tell them, like, a lot of times when they’re graduating seniors, I just remind them, I’m like, Look, theater will always be here for you. Like, if you ever find your way back to it, I just remind them of that. But also just feel like my job is to be their mentor, and help them look at the world like an artist, you know, if I’m able to accomplish that, like have them be look at the world around them with like, a critical thinking like artists eye and like, look at themselves that way. I’m, like, have more introspection, um, then I was still very happy, if that’s what I was able to accomplish, you know, whether or not they go on to do theater ever again.
Plus, storytelling is a powerful tool, both as a communicator, but also as a coping mechanism. And so no matter what your job is, storytelling can be very helpful to how you process Mm hmm. Like, you know, like, even these days, when people are processing like a big change in the world, what they choose to watch, and the stories that they’re consuming, will affect how they deal with it. You know, so this is an interesting thing that you’re bringing to the table that you’re, you’re giving these future doctors the ability to, you know, see the larger story.
Yeah, you know, and I mean, acting is all about connection and empathy. And we can certainly, everyone could use more of that, you know, I can Oh, that sounds so cheesy. Oh, no,
I was just gonna say Alan Alda runs that, that, you know, institute that helps scientists use improv to develop their, their ability to communicate better. Yeah, I mean, like, they’re, they’re different specialty schools, especially with science and stuff. They’re so focused on those people, knowing the science part, that’s super hard, that they don’t, they don’t think about the full life picture of that human. And like how they have to process their life and what’s going on like, I don’t know. I mean, yeah. You’re great. Ah, Sarah. Great. Thank you so much for being on the podcast for chatting with me. This has been really great chat. And I’m just so happy to share your story with the crowd with the audience. Oh,
thank you so much. Thanks for asking me it was such a blast getting to know more about you and and hear your stories too. I like really enjoyed it. I’m glad
Thanks for listening to yes but why podcast? Check out all our episodes on yes but why podcast calm or check out all the content on our network at Universal at HC Universal Network calm