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Monday, May 14, 2012

Some of My Very Best Friends are Playwrights.

Kristin Baker, ticket in hand
I’m doing a marathon, and that’s why Alexa asked me to guest blog here. Which makes sense, sort of. Because it is a theater marathon, not a running one.

I am not a playwright. I mean, I’ve written some plays here and there as a part of being a theater generalist (I have also acted, directed, taught and administered.) But being a playwright, I think, is as much a way of seeing the world as it is an activity.

I remember the first time I realized playwrights were actual people you could know. I saw a play by Industrial Theater written by Bill Donnelly. I wasn’t too far out of undergrad where most of the playwrights I’d encounter were dead or foreign or shrouded in mystery. I went in with no knowledge of the play or the company (free ticket offer from StageSource: more about that later). The play was Apocalypso and it was Totally. Freaking. Awesome. Totally transformative. I was completely enthralled with this world, these characters, this dialog. Mind blown. 

I had to tell someone at the company how much I loved it, so I said to an usher “That was the best play ever” and she said “Oh, go tell the playwright. He’s over there.” And there was this guy. My age, probably, friendly looking, normal. He wasn’t Genet or Shakespeare or Pinter. This was a guy who I’d have a beer with. Mind blown a second time.  (Bill and I have since had many beers.)

Even as I know quite a few, I still have this respect/awe thing going for playwrights. Especially the ones who live lives, and engage with their community and see their work as a collaboration with directors and actors and designers. I mean, I have met plenty of nutball and control freak ones (don’t pretend to be offended: you know at least three) but the ones who see their work as a starting place and love their confederates in production and give you characters and themes and worlds to discover: as an actor, director or audience member, I want to kiss them on the mouth. Hard.

Which is why I love the Boston Theater Marathon. It is like playwright tapas. I always end up googling some new playwright I who I want more of. And it is an even greater pleasure knowing they are from my community. They are already mine.

So, this year I decided to “run” the theater marathon. I am going to see ALL 53 plays. All ten hours. Of theater. In a row.  I will not stop for dinner or to move my car or to grab a coffee at Francesca’s. If I see an old friend we will have to catch up between hours. This is a feat of theatrical endurance unlike any I have attempted before. Why would I do such a thing, you ask?

For the same reason all people do marathons, I guess. To challenge myself. To see if I am equal to the task. To feel superior to others and be able to demonstrate my superiority with one of those coy little oval bumper stickers on my minivan.

But mostly to raise money.

I am a passionate member of StageSource, an arts service organization that makes theater possible in Boston. Every important thing that has happened to me in my career I can trace back to StageSource. That ticket offer was just one example. There are countless ways that StageSource has connected me to people and companies and opportunities that have become colleagues and friends and employers and callings.

So I am soliciting donations from my friends and family and total strangers for StageSource with my Marathon run. To my surprise and delight, some of them are actually giving me their hard earned cash. People are nice.

You can take a look at my blog to read more about my utterly sincere love of StageSource and the many ways it has made my career not only better, but possible.

And I will see you all at the Marathon this Sunday!

-- Kristin Baker

We hope you’ll join us on Sunday, May 20 for Boston Theater Marathon XIV (and for the Warm-Up Laps on May 19!). Click here for tickets and complete event details. See you there!

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