THE THERMOMETER OF MY HEART IS FULL
August 20, 2016
FIVE LIFE LESSONS IN FIVE YEARS
Five years ago this month, I walked into Sacred Fools Theater Company as a nervous volunteer. I knew nothing about set design, and had no experience in a theater other than years of being an enthusiastic audience member.
I was given a paint brush, and a lot of guidance, and within a few weeks I'd helped build and paint the first set I ever walked on. From then on, with some mentorship, observation, and lots of learning on the job, I developed my skills as a set designer. Five years into this adventure, I've designed 9 sets, two web series, a feature film, an exhibition, and an Escape Room. I've been nominated for two awards, and I received the inaugural Stage Raw LA Award for Best Set Design for Taste.
This journey has taught me at least five things:
- It's never too late to start something that you've always wanted to do. I was in my late 30s when this started, and within two years, I had designed an award-winning set. If you have something you want to try, and you're enthusiastic and committed, it's never too late. Start now!
- Mentorship and learning on the job can be just as valuable as going to school (and less expensive, too). I had been taking design classes, and learned much from them, but the cost and time involved in going to school was no longer feasible for me after struggling through the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash. I could have called it quits and given up, but I tried to think of another way. And becoming a volunteer was the best decision I could have ever made. If there's something you want to learn, reach out to an organization or a potential mentor, and ask how you can help. It's a win-win situation.
- You can accomplish amazing things by collaborating with a dedicated group of enthusiastic colleagues. Sacred Fools is a beautiful example of 99-seat theater at work, and is a true incubator of talent - from actors to designers to writers, producers, and directors. Just like I did, you can walk in and be supported by fellow artists who want you to succeed and want to create exciting theater for each other and for Los Angeles. I was never judged or told I wasn't experienced enough. I was given a lot of encouragement, including dozens of teammates who helped me along the way. Find your tribe and help each other build your collective dreams.
- When you need friendship, nothing beats joining an artistic community. Beyond the value of building a portfolio in a safe and nurturing environment, I have made a collection of wonderful, eclectic friends who are always there with a joke or an ear to lend. I'm never alone on a holiday, and I'm never bored on weekend. For someone who tends to be introverted, this has been a very important aspect of being a member of Sacred Fools for me, and for most of us. Find a community - artistic or otherwise - to call your own and you will never be lonely.
- It doesn't take much to create something amazing. Like a true-life version of Stone Soup, sometimes beautiful theater can be created with what seems like a paper clip and some glue. The reality is that it takes money and lots of time and member involvement ("I have a costume to lend!" "I have some paint to use!"), but with a very meager budget, Sacred Fools has created impactful, award-winning, engaging theater. You don't need to have immense financial resources to make your dream a reality. Sometimes, the most creative solution can be the simplest and cheapest. Don't say "I can't" - instead say, "How can I?"
As I start my sixth season here, we've just moved into a new home in Hollywood. And we're all abuzz with lots of plans for the season ahead.
Now we just need to raise the basic funds to make the season happen. I'm on the fantastic team REDISCOVER ENERGY, and our goal is to raise $6,000 in the next 5 weeks (from July 24 to August 26) so that we can forge ahead successfully.
If you've ever attended one of our shows, or have encouraged me in my growth as a designer, or taken inspiration from any of the Fools and our work, I ask that you give a gift to help support all that Sacred Fools is and does. Any gift will do.
All 5 teams must raise $50,000 in the next 5 weeks in order to present our season as planned.
Will you help an institution that has given so much to me and to all of us? I would be grateful, as would my family of Fools.