This is going to be one hell of an exciting theatre season! And it’s not only because of all the wonderful shows coming our way, but we’ve got some big news here at AltDaily too.
First, I’d like to introduce you to Aliki Pantas Semones, who’s gonna be updating you twice a month on what’s happening in the world of Hampton Roads theatre. Show openings, auditions, special events, it’s all here. Aliki’s column drops the first and third week of every month, so check it out!
Next, it gives me immense pleasure to announce (cue fanfare)…
ALTDAILY IS BRINGING THEATRE AWARDS BACK TO THE 757!
Hope I didn’t overplay it.
Seriously though, Hampton Roads has a truly amazing wealth of theatrical talent, and it’s been too long since excellence in local non-professional theatre has been recognized. We’ve actually been working on this for almost a year, so can I geek out on you for just a minute? We’re recruiting a small army of knowledgeable and respected members of the local theatre community – a Jedi council of theatre dweebs if you will – who will see every play produced by every non-professional theatre in AltDaily’s coverage radius. Including…
The judges will each score the shows in numerous categories, and the results will be tallied by an algorithm designed by the amazing Rico Robinson. No favoritism, no politics… just honest, transparent math. (This whole thing was Rico’s idea, by the way.)
We hope that by recognizing the best that our local theatres have to offer each year, we can express a measure of our appreciation for the talent and devotion of Hampton Roads’ hundreds of dedicated theatre volunteers, and call more attention to their work. The first annual AltDaily Theatre Awards, recognizing the current theatrical season, will be given out in late summer/early fall of 2018.
Last item on the bulletin board: I have stepped down as AltDaily’s Theatre Editor.
Yep. I’m moving to Los Angeles to oversee the establishment and operations of a national production support company’s new west coast expansion office. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and choosing to accept it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
Dim the lights.
I first came to Norfolk in 2002 with no friends, no money, no job, a criminal record, only a very tenuous will to live, and no particular plan for how to change any of those things. In this haze of directionless melancholia I would wander the streets, partly trying to get the lay of the land, but mostly because I had nothing better to do. Thus one evening in March I stumbled across the Little Theatre of Norfolk, outside of which happened to be a cute little hand-made sign announcing auditions were being held that day. That very moment in fact. As I said before, I had nothing better to do, and my recurrent depression had caused me to have very little concern for how I might be perceived by others. (Little did I know at the time this is pretty much all that’s required to be an actor.)
“Fuck it,” I said, and staggered in. Somebody asked me my name, and stuck a piece of paper in my hand. I stood up in front of a room full of strangers and read the words printed on it. The director, one Kathryn Strouse, would years later confide that she saw something in me. I can’t imagine it was talent, per se. Chutzpa, maybe. Wishing to encourage me, she cast me – very inappropriately – as the Cab Driver in Harvey, a minor supporting role for which I was probably thirty years too young, who appears late in the second act to bestow a deus-ex-machina upon the squabbling members of the Dowd family. And as Kathy directed me over the following weeks, I suddenly found myself with something to occupy my mind during those long insomniac nights. As I bonded with my castmates, I found a reason to get out of bed each day, a reason to leave the house, somewhere to be, somewhere I was needed. Gradually I found I had a reason to live.
So I kept doing it. Kept auditioning, kept getting cast, kept living. After a little while I thought I’d try helping out building sets too. I enjoyed it. It wasn’t until long after a friend of a friend asked if I would be available to overhire in VA Stage Company’s scene shop that it occurred to me I had actually been learning a trade. Well, that overhire temp job turned into another, which turned into an internship, which turned into a salaried position. Fast forward fifteen years, and here I am with a nice little career. And it never would have happened without community theatre.
Consequently, I have a deep and passionate love not only for theatre itself, but for theatre in Hampton Roads in particular, and I want to give back at least a portion of what this fabulous community has given to me. I saw AltDaily as an opportunity to do that. I happen to know, having watched it from the inside for a decade and a half, that there is an enormous amount of talent and creative potential in our local theatre community. When the opportunity came to draw more attention to that talent and creativity, I grabbed it with both hands.
This new job certainly promises adventure (there will be extensive travel), not to mention the opportunity to work in one of the biggest combined markets for my industry on the planet. It’ll be a terrific challenge; big in scale, different from anything I’ve done before. And the money… well, let’s just say it’ll be my first time working for a for-profit company and… wow. But you see, I’m not one of those guys who can’t wait to get out of his hometown in order to go have a “real career.” In fact, for me that’s always been a secondary consideration to how I can help boost my hometown, and I’ve had a hell of a time reconciling having to give up this chance to make a real difference in order to advance the paltry goals of furthering my career.
I’ve assuaged my guilt about it by re-reading all the terrific theatre articles and reviews that have appeared on AltDaily in the past two years, and marveling at how each person who has contributed them has grown as both a writer and an observer of the craft. When first assembling the AltDaily theatre team, I told each of them I wanted this website to be THE place for insightful analysis of Hampton Roads theatre, and I’m satisfied that I leave behind a website that provides just that. And I’m delighted that the editorship of the theatre section at AltDaily, the leadership of the team of theatre writers we’ve built, and the stewardship of the ideals we’ve established will be taken over by the inestimable BA Ciccolella. I’ve known BA for ten years now. She has been a cohort and collaborator of mine – in every possible way, professional and personal – for a decade. She’s been my partner, my roommate, my dearest friend, and my rock. During my time as theatre editor, she’s edited me, reading and making notes on everything. [ED NOTE: Don’t forget to tell them how pretty I am!]
I am supremely confident that under BA’s direction, AltDaily’s theatre section will only get better, with more diverse content and more writers contributing. In fact, I’m a little bit jealous of the amazing ideas she’s had already.
So that’s what you’ve got coming at you from AltDaily, Hampton Roads!
What I’ve got coming at me? Who knows? But I do know that I’ll be back. I don’t know when, but whenever it is, you’ll know because I’ll jump right in and lend a hand.
See ya soon.