Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An L.A. Perspective

A photo from "Educating Rita"


I’m Brie. Long story made short about me:
I graduated from BSC in 2005 with my BA in Theatre. I did technical theatre, design, and stage management while I was there, but I took a few acting classes as well. When I graduated I started working for the Birmingham Children’s Theatre as their Tour Stage Manager, which I did for two years. In the summers I taught arts, crafts, and technical theatre at the theatre workshops that were for students of ages 5-18. I also was did stage management for Dane Peterson’s Theatre Series, and designed lights for A Streetcar Named Desire at the Virginia Samford Theatre. That’s the short version of my BSC career and life right after college without giving you my resume.

What am I doing now you ask? Cause that’s the important part right?
As of today I am living in Los Angeles (Burbank actually) where I work for Warner Bros. I never in my life thought I would move to the west coast, but love has a crazy way of making you do things you wouldn’t think you would ever do. I moved to L.A. so that I could help my fiancé while he is in graduate school for film editing at the American Film Institute. Two weeks after I moved, I landed a temp job at Warner Bros. (Thanks to a great recommendation from Rebecca Harris who went to make-up school out here, and is a 2004 BSC grad.) The woman whose job I was filling in for decided not to come back and I applied and got the job; I still think no one else applied, but hey, I got it so what’s the difference? So my official job is the Contract Coordinator for Warner Bros. Pictures Industrial Labor Relations. I work in a small legal-type office where I do a lot of filing. My favorite part about my job, other than working on the studio lot, is that I get to research SAG background actor claims. When I get a claim for an upgrade to principal from background, I get to watch the dailies (the film footage) and see takes or parts of a film that hasn’t been released or will never be seen by any audience. I never thought I would ever work in an office, “Give me a theatre with no windows and some tools and I was at home!” But theatre doesn’t always pay the bills so I’m working a “real” job right now.

A few months after I moved to L.A., I was getting depressed and stir crazy and I realized it was because I missed theatre so much; theatre is my passion and I just love doing it. I stumbled upon a theatre that is just two blocks from where I live. When I say stumbled I mean stumbled. There are no signs on the outside of the building which is attached to a parking deck near the mall. My fiancé and I were parking and I noticed a billboard with theatre-like information on it; sure enough upon walking up to the doors it was a theatre. I of course googled The Colony Theatre the minute I got home to find out about this hidden theatre in the heart of Burbank. I emailed, and emailed, and emailed the volunteer email address until finally someone responded. I asked if they needed any ushers for their next show, “The Immigrant: The Musical” and they said yes. I asked to usher of course because I wanted to make sure this would be a place I would be proud to work or volunteer for. The show turned out to be okay, but I’m pretty sure it was because the music for the show isn’t all that good, but the performers and the technical aspects of the show were wonderful and all of the staff members I met were very nice.

I met the artistic director of The Colony, Barbara Beckly, whose resume is very impressive, and she asked me to meet with her. She told me a lot about herself and the theatre company and seemed impressed with my background. After that, I got a phone call from the in-house stage manager to see if I would be interested in running the light board for the next show “Trying”. Boy was I; I was so happy these people were so kind and accepted me into their home/theatre.

“Trying”—What an amazing two person play!! It also received many, many Los Angeles stage awards. I actually ran the light board for the re-run of the show which they did a year after they first opened it. It starred Alan Mandell who is an amazing actor and stage legend; he toured France and Germany with the original productions of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Endgame, directed by Beckett himself! I also came to the realization that there are about six people in the world when I met the director for the show, Cameron Watson, who went to Montevallo and knows a handful or Birmingham artists. One of his biggest credits to date is a movie he wrote, directed, and produced called Our Very Own starring Allison Janney. Even more incredible than meeting Alan Mandell and Cameron was when I met Jared A. Sayeg. Jared was the lighting designer for “Trying” and after reading his bio I was blown away by all he’s done. He’s worked on and off Broadway, in Los Angeles, and in London. He designs lights for museums, ballets, operas, restaurants, and theatre. He is also the youngest member ever to join the United Scenic Artist Local 839. I was just blown away by the talent that this one small space held…and still am.

Another “it’s a small world” moment happened when I was asked to stage manager a staged reading of a new musical at The Colony that The Academy for New Musical Theatre created. When I was at the ANMT I saw a poster with Vulcan on it, and mentioned to one of the actors who also worked there that that’s in Birmingham. She said, “Yeah, we created Miss Vulcan 1939 for Red Mountain Theatre Company.” I could not have been more floored by what she said.

Right now I am working on “Educating Rita” at The Colony doing quick changes backstage for Rebecca Mozo who also co-starred in “Trying”. This is the first time in America that the updated version of the play is being done. Again, it lacks nothing in the way of talent.

I would like to say that although I am amazed everyday by some of the talented people that I meet out here, I also realize that there are more opportunities to network and meet other artists like myself in big cities where cultural differences thrive. I do look back at all that I did in Birmingham and I feel as though I had just started coming in to my own in that city, and here, I’m an unknown who has to work twice as hard to get people to notice the work that I do. But I guess that’s a big part of starting over in a new city. I was given all the right building blocks to take whatever the theatre and the people in the theatre can throw at me from the teachers and my peers at BSC and I’m so thankful of that. I wouldn’t be able to confidently knock on a theatre’s door and ask “What can I do?” if it wasn’t for the fact that I know I can do it.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and now that you’re updated on me…the posts will be a lot shorter I’m sure.

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