In celebration of Indie Theatre Week (July 23 - July 29, 2012), we asked members of the OOB community to share some of the Indie Theatre moments that inspired them.
I am a firm believer in the power of the number 7, so it was a big deal for me to celebrate a big 7th anniversary this year. It was 7 years ago that I packed my bags in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and moved to New York City. I had no idea what awaited me, all I knew was I was going to continue my studies and develop as a performer and what comes after who knows. I had no concept of indie theater whatsoever, equity and what not. I grew up watching the Tonys thinking THAT was the option. That's why you come to New York right? To the big apple! Who knew there was an equally exciting theater community. One with artistic freedom and a common hunger to create.
Best advice I was ever given was in my first year in New York by one my teachers and it was, "create your own work. Yes go out and audition but from this group I bet some companies will emerge and you will create your own work. Never just wait. Never stop creating." Although MTWorks was not formed by a group of classmates, the concept definitely stuck with me and gave me the courage to believe my point of view as an artist was valid and there were enough people out there who might be interested in it's message. I also quickly learned the difference between Broadway, Off-Broadway and Indie Theater, and I'm not talking about contracts. The big difference was in the risk. The risk level of the material, the unapologetic language and scenarios, and the demand for an audience to use their imagination is what indie theater is all about, and boy did it feel like home.
Don't get me wrong I love Broadway and hope to work at that level very soon, but as an audience member it is easier to guess what you will get out of a Broadway show than an indie show and that is where the magic of indie theater lies. The freedom to fail is much greater, creating room for growth; the success is also much sweeter, having created something wonderful in 4 weeks and growing as actors on the stage in just 3.
Working as a press agent with Katie Rosin at Kampfire PR and collaborating with different artists at MTWorks, I quickly realized how tight this community was, and no wonder. We are all out there for the same goal, sharing the same experiences and dreaming the same dream. Whatever your reasons for becoming an artist we all have one thing in common. We want abundance. We want creative abundance, we want to share our abundance and we want monetary abundance. We all know which of the three is the hardest to obtain in indie theater, but trust me it is the least satisfying, or we would all be lawyers or doctors.
Being an artist is not a choice. It's who we are. If I'm not creating in some way I'm miserable, it's that period I like to call an "Artistic Drought". If we deny ourselves as artist completely, which I have done myself for fear or monetary needs, we do not cease being artists. We sadly are keeping our true selves "in the closet" but the artist never dies. What does this have to do with the indie theater community you may ask? During an artistic drought I know I can knock on the door of an indie director, writer or producer and brainstorm ideas and from an idea create and workshop something that one day might be presented to the public... Not sure that would happen as easily in another theatrical environment.
I have never known a more inclusive, creative and fearless community than the indie theater one. I hope you are embracing and taking advantage of all it has to offer as I assure you it will embrace you. Oh an once you become that famous Broadway or Hollywood actor/director/producer big shot... Don't forget where it all started and who your family was, support indie theater always.
Antonio Minino is an actor and director. He is a co-founder of MTWorks, currently serving as the Secretary of their Board of Directors and Literary Associate for The National NewBorn Festival. He is the owner of Fab Marquee Productions and a contributing writer for The Happiest Medium.