By Kristin Towers-Rowles. (Reprinted with permission)
99 seat theatre – where you can attend the tale of Sweeney Todd
At the height of the debate and voting about 99 seat theatre, I find myself in a unique situation, one I am sure will be indelible in my memory.
I am a trained, Union actress who figured out along the way that I am also a Director. I never trained to direct (except for my *born in a trunk*, everyone in my family is a performer/artist life) but I have a proclivity to it and the actors who work with me enjoy that I care about the subtext and character development, 1st and foremost.
Here we are, putting up one of the hardest musicals ever written and with 18 actors, half are Union. I have every echelon of performer in my cast, from Broadway Vets, my Sweeney Todd, Douglas Ladnier and Mrs. Lovett, Ali England; to Union New York > LA transplants, who rightfully should have been on Broadway but made the choice to come to LA for film/tv/lifestyle; to International Superstars who won the equivalent of a Tony Award in their country; to Locally Born and Bred unreal, non union talent, who for one reason or another, haven’t joined the union but are definitely talented enough to.
The cast runs the full spectrum as far as where they are all coming from…
But when they are onstage, the art they are all making is World Class. The Vets and people with a million credits are bringing their *A Game* and they are being matched by the people who’s resumes are still being built. And there is a MUTUAL respect for the material and each other. I had everyone sit around the perimeter of the taped out stage in the rehearsal space and everyone watches and applauds each other’s work.
99 seat theatre gives the opportunity to create
99 seat theatre has provided every single person involved with this project so much more than just a show. And provided our production team the time/freedom to truly explore this piece as a piece of art. In Regional Union theatre, with the expense of contracts, your rehearsal process is quick (sometimes 10 days) and while you might know your lines/blocking, you usually don’t have time to dig and explore.
I am fully in support of professional actors being paid. I am a professional actor and I work on contracts often. But I will never think the time I have spent developing my skill set and leading others to do the same has been a waste of time, nor do I look at it as me being *used* by producers. To the contrary, I am grateful to people who gamble their money, often the very shirt off their backs, to bring art to our community and give actors, directors, designers the opportunity to create.
We have no idea how this vote will go but one thing is so clear to me: if there was ever a production that clearly defines what can be accomplished by the 99 seat plan, it is this one. I am exceedingly proud of the art, but more importantly, the spirit behind the people creating the art. And no amount of money could ever replace that.
For more about Kristin Towers-Rowles, click HERE.