Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Sunday Read: Michaela Di Cesare on going to New York

(photo credit: Joseph Ste-Marie)
No Sex and the City
8 Ways goes to New York
by Michaela Di Cesare

I fear I’ve become that person. You know, that person who’s always talking about the same project? I can just hear it now, “Oh, more 8 Ways?” you ask with a polite smile. And I think about responding, “No, actually, this is the sequel: 9.5 Ways my Mother was Conceived” but really I say, “Yeah. I can’t believe it. It’s been 2 years!” Alas, the truth is my little foetus has grown some strong legs and is learning to walk all over the place—all the way to New York City even! But, you know, since she’s a toddler in the terrible twos she bumps into things and has to latch on to people every now and then with her chubby, sticky little fingers. That’s where fundraising and community support comes in, I suppose. Wow, my analogy is going much farther than any analogy ever should. I’ll get back on track.
8 Ways my Mother was Conceived was accepted into the United Solo Theatre Festival, a juried and competitive New York City festival. It is the largest festival of solo shows in the world! When they informed me of the selection, I was very excited, my mother (the first person I called) was very anxious, my husband was very proud and my talented creative team was very supportive.

The first logistical problem that hit me was financing. I ran a quick search of NYC accommodations and the prices had me reeling. Not to mention the cost of living (with my stage manager) for two weeks, transportation and all other production-related costs. I followed in the footsteps of many other local companies and started an Indiegogo campaign. I am so touched by the unity and support shown by crowdfunding in our city, though I have to say with all sincerity that I wasn’t expecting the usual suspects of family and friends to donate. I was naively hoping for the Indiegogo effect, where complete strangers stumble upon these adorable videos of my mom and send cash my way. I am forever grateful to those people who have been continuously supporting this project of mine. You are the real reason that it stays alive—and may even grow up to be a petulant 5-year-old! 
I also sought funding in an unconventional way: I was a contestant on a game show! When I saw the casting call for Match Game, I immediately thought, “If I can win this game, that’ll take care of my funding!” So I applied, I went on and I won some cash. Though I would have won a lot more cash had I only chosen “eye glasses” over “sun glasses”. *Sigh* 
Aside from fund-raising and fund-winning,  there has been mentorship and hospitality. I can’t even put into words how lucky I am to have the continued support of Black Theatre Workshop. I am now a proud actor in residence with the wonderful company and the resources they have made available to 8 Ways are as abundant as ever.
My other logistical worry was: how does one promote a show in a foreign city? Who will come watch me? How much control do I have over getting bums in seats? I reached out to two of our local touring experts: the fantastic Johanna Nutter and Beyond the Mountain’s Danielle ACM. Both ladies were so generous with their time and advice. I received many helpful tips—the most valuable of which we will never discuss in writing because it is potentially incriminating. Hm. Hm. Hm. Changing. The. Subject.
Tickets! The way this festival works is: best-selling shows get additional performances. That would be ideal for 8 Ways. So, if you know anyone in the area, please send them some information about the show. Tell them this show has it all: virgins, gynecologists and ancient Italian curses! Tickets are on sale now.
Broadway. Wow. Can I just take a moment to say something really disgustingly sentimental? 
This is so much bigger than me. I feel like my tiny, nasally-intoned, 8-year-old self pretty much every day. We call her Little Mika in rehearsals. People don’t always understand this about me, but she’s who I am all the time: a little awkward, with an unfortunate voice, devastatingly earnest and unwaveringly honest. She’s also tiny. And anxious. She thinks that most things are “a real problem.” She thinks plays are just the stories from her imagination and that no one hears them but her. She can’t believe you’re listening to her. She really can’t.  But as long as you are she is going to have so much fun sharing her stories with you. It’s because you listened that she took this leap and she’s taking it for you. If Little Mika is going to the “Big Apple”, Montreal, it’s only because she’s standing on your shoulders. And in that magical lit-up world, as hundreds upon hundreds of shows open and close all around her, she’ll know that she brought a little bit of you along with her. And at the end of it all, she’ll be coming right back home: the only place she ever wanted to “make it”.

Ms Di Cesare's website
Sat., Nov. 10 at 9:00pm, Theatre ROW, 410 West 42nd Street, New York City, TICKETS: $18 / 212-239-6200.
Read our latest review of 8 Ways My Mother Was Conceived

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