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All I need is a bell and a red kettle

On Thursday I sent out my first fundraising letter ever.

I’m sure that many of you reading this have, in your theatre lives, sent many a “please donate” letter. I have always been called in as a fixer on projects. Even in the companies where I was a member, fundraising was not my problem. The productions themselves were my problem.

And there is a certain level of humiliation in having to send out a “I can’t support my art” letter that I was not accustomed to. Indeed my proofreaders could tell you the first version of that letter was twice as long as the (still inappropriately long) version that got sent out. It was full of reassurances that we were doing everything we could to be responsible, and apologies for even asking…

We cut them. They were right. And honestly? If you’re asking for strangers money all the assurances in the world don’t matter, you are producing beyond your means.

But setting aside your ego to ask family, friends and internet strangers for money is nothing compared to that humbling moment when a donation comes in.

My boss was the first to donate. She bought 4 days of me not smoking. I cried.

I did, and I’m admitting it on the internet.

I expect my Mom to donate. I expect certain of my friends to chip in. But this woman isn’t interested in my art at all. She is interested first and foremost in me not smoking, and secondly, she knows that I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t need it, and that I wouldn’t do a project that I didn’t really believe was worth it. That was good enough for her.

That level of trust is humbling.

How the hell do I make sure the show is worth that trust?

In Good Company

There have been very few projects that I have worked on that haven’t had a talented base group. In the small theatre worlds of San Francisco and Austin (my only experience) there are always little compromises to be made. Sometimes that one role that needs a Look just didn’t have a Super┬áTalent walk through the door, or maybe you got your audition notice out late and you had poor turn our in general.

This sort of tightrope walk is always less prevalent when you’re creating your own piece, as we’re doing here with Transformations, and it as almost non-existant when you are both creating your own work and you are cherry-picking the participants.

Megan starting putting this group together in a steady stream of dropped hints and vague descriptions months ago. So it had been an open question of who was going to be involved no matter how many names were on the ‘maybe’ roster. And no matter who ended up on the Opening Day squad, Will and I hadn’t worked with them. I was familiar with many of them, and had seen some of their work, but actually sat in a room with them?

No sir.

Over the last few weeks as we popped the clutch and locked into third gear here at Transformations HQ we’ve begun meeting several times a week to keep everything on pace and on target. And, truth be told, to keep repeating our to do lists out loud to one another so we wouldn’t forget anything, no matter how many places such things were written down.

Will spent quality time on The Couches back in Intermission times, but Sarah Mosher was joining us, and I had no idea what to expect. I knew that she was taking Megan’s admonition to “do whatever you want. No. Seriously.” to heart. She had shared some of her ideas previously, but on Tuesday after we had covered most of what we could possibly talk about with only four of the (estimated) 457 creators of this project in the room, Ms. Mosher casually whipped out her┬ápad and flipped it open to show us this:

This is a roughly eighth scale scan of her rendering of one of her two pieces, Little Red Riding Hood. I immediately became a member of the I Hate Sarah Mosher Club (I’m told there are t-shirts). I am deeply envious of any artistic skill, and it was clear that this was a sketch for her.

Two things:

  1. I’m not telling you the secret of the dress.
  2. Any producers dream, immediately after never ending funds, is to be the least talented person in the room.

It’s going to happen a lot with this show. I couldn’t be more excited.

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