A year ago, June 1 2015, I made a goal to see 40 live theatrical performances by June 1 2016. I made this goal because I love theater more that about anything else. And I am someone who self identifies primarily with their relationship to theater; definitely more than I self identify by my career. It didn't take me long to realize I was thinking too much about work and not experiencing enough theater. And for the first time in my life I had something new, free time and some disposable income.
Over the year before I started this goal I had already started ramping up my theater going, I went to the Guthrie frequently and had made a trip to Chicago to see Carousel. But I live in the Twin Cities, a fantastic place to experience theater, and I knew that although the Guthrie is fantastic there is a lot more to experience. I didn't just want to continue to casually see theater, I wanted to make a commitment.
The actual rules of what would count would come later. At the beginning I knew plays, musicals and operas would count but I wasn't sure about what to do with things that didn't fall into these categories. And a little over half away into the year I finally had it figured out, my rules were as follows. 1. It had to be live and I had to be in the audience, watching a live Met opera in the movie theater did not count. 2. It did not have to be scripted to count, it just had to be theatrical, therefore improv counts. 3. One person shows, cabaret type things count, therefore the Guthrie Gala and Taylor Mac count.
And on May 31 2016, at the end of my year I find myself having succeed my goal. Actually I exceeded it, I saw 52 theatrical events, which works out to one a week. And 48 of those were in the Twin Cities. The other 4 were in a trip to New York.
A list of what I saw in no particular order.
My year started off pretty great, with the Gala for Joe Dowling at the Guthrie. The performance was good, but what I loved was walking around afterwards. I recognized so many of the people who were there participating from their work in the theater. And getting to peak into their community, the theater community, beyond a performance on stage was exhilarating. Also I got to have a conversation with Santino Fontana one of my favorite actors, in which he asked me what my connection to the Guthrie was and I answered very smoothly "....I go to a lot of plays here."
The Fringe Festival later in the summer helped me to boost my numbers. It was also another great peak into the illusive theater community. At least more than I typically was used to feeling when I simply went to a play, watched the play, then left the play. And I can't wait to repeat that experience with Fringe Festival again this year.
What I really liked was getting to see and learn about so many plays. My love of theater was built around the American (and sometimes British) musical. I spent almost 10 years growing up in Rhode Island, which was three and a half hours from New York City, which lead to many days and weekend trips the the Big Apple and stops at Broadway. Therefore plays were not really something I had explored until a few years ago. And after this year I am left thinking...plays are really good, and can be just as transporting as musicals can. And my favorite genre is probably now plays with music (thanks Theater Latte Da).
There is just so much that I am grateful for, for all the things that I got to see this year. The work of Minnesota Opera which helped me go deeper into my love of Opera that is only a few years old. I especially loved Tosca, one of the highlights of my year. I'm thankful for You Can't Take It With You, and how it made me question most of my life choices up to this point. I am thankful for Constellations which tied my love of theater closer to what I actually studied in college (I took A LOT of math and physics classes and was one class away from a minor in Astrophysics). I am also grateful that a little more than half way through the year I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog.
But mostly I'm grateful for Twin Cities theater, and all the talent we have. Maybe I'll even beat my 52 show count in the next 52 weeks. I don't think I will set any quantitative goals. But I do want to try to experience theater companies in the Twin Cities I haven't yet. And maybe even raise my hand for the first time during a post play discussion. I don't know what the next year in theater will bring me but I'm certainly excited.