Saturday, April 20, 2013

creating a/broad, April 20, 2013

by Cameryn Moore

I have three different cities to check in with over the next week, for shows that won’t be happening until the fall, some that will be taking place in a country that I’ve never even been to. At times like this, I realize that my strategy for global domination has ended up being much more delicate than I thought it would be. It’s not blasting through a wall like the sexy equivalent of the Kool-Aid Man; it’s spinning out threads and laying them down carefully, struggling to keep track of the strands of a delicate web, weaving this fabric of community and art.

It gives me a headache sometimes, I’ll be honest.

I don’t know where the threads will land, sometimes, when I appear in one place or when someone finds out about me through a mutual friend on Facebook. These moments of connection, real or potential, keep popping up, all around me, and I don’t always know what they will lead to. They overlap and tighten, in ways that I can’t even perceive, and all I can do is keep an eye out and my mind open to the possibilities.

I set up the levels of interest to filter out “eager beavers”

My being here in Peterborough, ON, right now, is the result of one such unseen convergence. The ex-lover of a friend found me on FB; we’ve been chatting online for at least a year. When he said, “You should bring Phone Whore to Peterborough, I’d love to see you here”, I smiled and typed, “sure!” in the chat window, but to myself, I rolled my eyes. I have been lured along and, yes, burnt, by would-be producers before. I learned my lesson, I learned to put out there the things that I needed and wanted to make that happen, and have learned to let things go, let other people make the first move, to follow up or not, because I don’t have time to fumble around with all the threads that get thrown my way. 

So I set up the levels of interest to filter out “eager beavers”, those who are inexperienced with theatre production and without the real commitment or connections that are needed to mount, say, a production of Phone Whore in a rural town of less than 75,000. For example. I put out the tech specs and my billeting requirements, chat online about networking and inside sources and strings that can be pulled. We talk about flyering and volunteers and “what has been your experience with the local media”, and somewhere in all that talk, I begin to believe that we have a thread a little sturdier than the rest. And so then we lay down the terms in a letter of agreement, or an email at least, and that’s when I know this is going to happen.

But in the meantime, there are other threads, waving about in the breeze, trying to catch my attention. I pick them up gently, and tug. This one, an enthusiastic fan met by chance on the sidewalk in New Orleans, who is actually from Tulsa, OK, and yes, he wants Phone Whore there. Last night at 1am I pinged him, is it happening, did the theatre space get back to you? No? Should we both contact them? Yes. Careful, delicate, ease the thread down, tie down that to-do, and then wait.

10 days ago, a message from him on my wall: “hey, keep us posted about your Edinburgh appearances!”

Or how about that other thread, a friend of multiple Facebook friends, most of whom I have not met in real life yet. This one, a sex worker rights activist in the UK. I friended him online last fall, when I was making my plans to go to Edinburgh this year, but we had never really chatted. And then out of nowhere, 10 days ago, a message from him on my wall: “hey, keep us posted about your Edinburgh appearances!” Yes, I wrote back, and do you happen to know any venues in other UK cities that might be open to this show? Yes, he said, and my group can probably help, and then we went to private messaging, and then it was just a steady stream of Yes, Yes, Yes. Tomorrow I have a Skype session with him, and it is possible that a UK mini-tour will result.

Atlanta, Dallas, New York, and smaller towns, too, like here, like Peterborough… People find me or I find them, or word gets around and someone makes the first outreach, throws out that first little feeler, “would you be interested…?”, “I would love to… ”, “That sounds amazing…”, “… so let’s talk.” For all that I am so brash face to face, out in public, this tentative weaving and casting and feeling-out, this is subtlety that most people probably don’t think I am capable of. I’m not entirely sure that I am, sometimes. This is why people get agents, and managers, and bookers. This is why I dream of such support sometimes.

Because it is complicated. Pressure is fatal, at the beginning stages of any relationship, and a producer/artist relationship is no different. Discernment and diplomacy are essential. Honesty in honoring the work that goes into this, on both sides, this is key, too. Mostly I just have to be with each connection and let it be what it is, grow into what it will be, appreciate my relationships for all that they bring to me and that I can bring to them, enjoy this slow world-wide dance that I get to do with so many wonderful, excitable people.

Sometimes it is a friendship. Sometimes it is a full festival run. Sometimes it is both, sometimes something else altogether, a university connection, an invitation to a potluck, a collaborative project that really makes sense for me to be involved in. I don’t know what these threads are exactly, or where they will lead. I just follow them, weave them through, set them down, wait and watch while other people pick them up and pass them along.

It’s exciting and maddening, all at once. This is how I change things. This is how things change.

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