Woman on the Edge on Women on the Edge One can be on the edge of many things. I know this first hand. I live on the edge. The edge of success. The edge of failure. The edge of Chelsea. Right now I’m on the edge of a steep learning curve. Our Woman on the Edge Series was what I would call a success. We had full houses for most nights of the month-long run. We had terrific responses from our audiences, and we even came in under budget! I would also say we have, to some degree, failed. Why? I, and my team, have not figured out what to do with the successful “readings.”
Most appear to fade into oblivion because they are overlooked or ignored by the “big producers” who will only gamble (yes, gamble) on what look like bankable projects. Like the movie industry, producers are only interested in the glamorous projects with big stars attached. Until indie films started making a significant dent, the offerings were big box or bust. It’s not so different in the theater “business.” Now there is indie theater, still a producer’s nightmare, and still not what I would consider our territory.
There is Theater, and there is Art. We want to make theater that is art, but seem to get stuck in the land of immobility. Outdated Equity guidelines and legal conflicts of interest make it next to impossible to devise fair agreements for simple productions. In a small space with a limited budget, it’s not so easy to make ends meet and it’s scary for us to take big risks with new plays no matter how amazing we think they are.
We would like to commit ourselves to developing two original readings into “playlets” each year, but we can’t seem to find the right formula to produce within stringent and unreasonable guidelines without taking unreasonable risks. Acting in accordance with the rules puts us in a vulnerable position. Some say we should be content just to be artists, lucky to toil at what we love; not to worry that projects or actors will be snapped up by the big boys. Easy for some to say. We have already introduced a number of actors and projects that have been “noticed” and moved on to bigger things. We love when that happens! While it is a goal of the cell to introduce new artists and incubate new works, a reputation alone is not enough to sustain these goals.
I am pleased and proud of all that we do at the cell. Always interested in trying out “edgy” projects, we do not limit ourselves to readings, but also love music, literature, films, and combinations of media resulting from collaborations by various artists. Now is the time for us to consider what the cell has accomplished and how it can move forward in the season to come. As we devote our energies to the incubation of works of all kinds, we will continue to explore new ways to turn our favorite readings into “playlets.” We are surely a team of women on the edge of something.