Field Notes From A BOA Virgin: Strange Bedfellows

Annie Paladino sends us her last blog about BOA 2012.  Feel like telling us about your neck of the Bay Area Theater woods? Let us know! We’re always looking for stories

…and just like that, it was over. BOA 2012 ended its run on Saturday and much hugging, drinking, dancing, congratulating, sleeping, and ripping up of stages ensued (mostly in that order). Followed by more sleeping.

I want to extend my own personal congratulation to everyone involved, and ginormous THANK YOUs to our spectacular audiences (particularly the packed-to-standing-room closing weekend houses!).

But I guess what has really stuck with me, and what I hope continues to be a discussion in the Bay Area small theater scene, is how deeply entrenched we are in our separate art-making spheres. One of the wonderful things about BOA is that it smushes together 10 different producing companies (each with a different style, philosophy, mission, history) almost by brute force: many, if not most, of these companies probably wouldn’t choose to share a billing like this, and have not worked together in the past. In fact, a common topic of conversation among the actors seemed to be, “so what does your company do?” Genuine interest in each other’s work — and an equally genuine ignorance of each other’s very existence — characterized many of the interactions that I observed and/or participated in.

Why don’t we know about each other? It’s somewhat disheartening to realize the extent of our tunnel-vision: how can we expect audiences to find us and know about us if we aren’t even really aware of each other?

I have no idea how to fix it. I suspect that an increase in cross-pollination and artistic polyamory would go a long way, and certainly things like BOA are invaluable to our little community, knitting us together into a lovely, ephemeral, messy patchwork of local small theater. In general, the Bay Area small theater community is amazingly collaborative, active, and supportive. I’m not saying we have to love each other’s work, I did not love every piece in BOA, but really, in the grand scheme of things, we’re all on the same team, right?

WARNING: SELF-IMPORTANT METACOMMENTARY AND PAINFULLY CLICHE METAPHOR AHEAD: maybe THIS VERY BLOG can start poking little air holes in our cozy bubbles.

Lots of love,

A.M.P.

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