Falling With Style: Growing Where I’m Planted; Or, What’s So Great About The Bay Area Theatre Scene?

Helen Laroche, aspiring actress, continues her exploration of pursuing her dream in the Bay Area.

A few weeks ago, I submitted my application for the ATLAS Fellowship provided by Theatre Bay Area. I did this in part because it would give weight to the career mapping I’ve already started on my own — and because it might give me the push I need to find a mentor. I desperately seek someone, probably but not necessarily a woman, who can show me by example that, yes, I can be an artist and raise a family, without asking them to live in cardboard boxes or Stockton with me.

As part of the ATLAS application, I was asked to consider why I perform in the Bay Area. The first answer that came to me was, embarrassingly, ‘because my family can’t move to New York.’

And so that pesky question came to the front of my mind again: can I find the artistic fulfillment I’m looking for while living in the Bay Area? It’s hard to answer, when I still can’t quantify the terms of fulfillment. But if I’m honest with myself, my artistic fulfillment includes: management, some form of steady income from theatre/film/writing/other media, and the ability to bring great, unheard stories to the people who need to hear them. And the people I work with should be just as passionate as I am.

I’m not getting any younger, and I can’t keep pulling my poor husband through the ringer every few months, starting up a new conversation about moving from Palo Alto to San Francisco or from the Bay Area to New York before re-evaluating and reneging. I need to come at this from a mature place and take stock of what the Bay Area film/theatre/etc. scene does as well as or better than anywhere else.

The list, as I see it so far:

  • improv comedy
  • physical comedy/clowning
  • pre-pre-Broadway works (e.g. the New Works Festival at Theatreworks; the Playwrights Foundation
  • a larger-than-average potential donor base, since there are plenty of people in the area with disposable income and a philanthropic bent

What am I missing? What defines the Bay Area arts scene for you? Is there any one thing?

On December 15th, you can see Helen in one of those pre-pre-Broadway New Works Festivals, The San Francisco Olympians Festival, playing the role of Artemis.