New Member Meet ‘n’ Greet Recap

TPS Meet ‘n’ Greet Notes March 27, 2014

Focus: New Members

40% of the new members were new to the area within the year
25% were brand new members who had been working in the area for two years or more
10% were new to the industry
25% were returning members

All attendees self-identified primarily as actors. The  questions below were asked of the group. The following is a summary of the replies from the new members in attendance.

1. What does your ideal, sustainable performance community look like?

Many answers were given including living wages paid for doing a show, and for the younger attendees, finding paid acting opportunities that did not conflict with daytime work schedules. However, two main topics that dominated much of the evening were working & training opportunities for all levels of experience, and being considered as an actor regardless of color, age, or ethnicity, and not just for the general auditions.
The remaining questions focused on those two topics to help attendees identify ways to achieve those goals.

2. What already exists, and what are you doing, that creates / sustains your community?

Working and Training opportunities
The Puget Sound Region not only provides ample opportunities for performing artists, but the environment is very supportive to artists working for a wide range of companies and / or self-producing. Freehold offers a wide variety of classes, and small producing opportunities for artists of many levels of experience. On the Boards, Annex Theatre, and Theatre Off Jackson are just three organizations that regularly produce evenings of works-in-progress at many different stages of development for artists and / or collectives. Artist Trust offers rolling GAP grants to support these projects.

Artists work amongst smaller and larger companies, even after working for a larger and better-paying contract. This cross-pollination encourages more artists to see each other’s work. If you are not getting acting work at the companies you wish, volunteer or apply for other jobs at those companies, and let their staff know when you are in a show so they at least know you’re getting work at other places.

Multi-ethnic casting & working opportunities
ReACT, SIS Productions, and Mirror Stage actively work with multi-ethnic casts and artists. More small groups and collectives are doing more non-traditional casting, but many of these are volunteer or for a small stipend. To help sustain these groups and encourage them to keep doing the work they are doing, buy a ticket or volunteer for them.

3. What are the obstacles, or what is missing to create / sustain your community?
Sustained cross pollination of cultures in productions and audiences is difficult even though artists, producers, and funders say they want it to happen. There don’t seem to be any opportunities for multiethnic casting in a standard production.
While general audition announcements regularly include phrases like “Actors of color encouraged to audition,” there is still a disconnect between producers / casting directors of larger, better-paying organizations, and actors of color.

One result is artists of color create their own productions and companies (eSe Teatro, Pratidhwani, Brownbox, Central District Forum of Arts & Ideas, and SIS Productions to name a few) that are largely regarded (incorrectly, many agreed) as exclusive to those already in that culture. Members are interested in finding ways to have all artists creating work together, and bring in an audience that better represents our region.

Do you have anything else to add to the conversation? If so, please send an email to us at tps (at) tpsonline (dot) org with “March Meet ‘n’ Greet” in the subject line.

The next Meet ‘n’ Greet will focus on directors and producers and is Tuesday, April 29 at 6:30pm in the Center Theatre Lobby. Again, all are welcome to attend. RSVP here.

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