In Search of the Artistic Home
Jamie Gahlon has asked theatre artists from around the country to talk about their personal search for an artistic home. Sarah Gubbins continues this series.
What makes an artistic home?
First and foremost it’s the people who live there. I come from a large family, so for me the notion of a home is entirely wrapped up in who’s around. It’s never been about a certain defined locale or a certain architectural aesthetic. Home has always been a place full of people who know me really, really well and who like to tease me mercilessly. It’s a place where I can stop by unannounced and where no one cares if I rummage through the fridge and eat his or her leftovers. And so for me that’s true of my artistic homes. They are places where the folks inside know me beyond one particular play or project. Who share my sense of humor. Who want to stop what they are doing to engage with me. And who really, really care about my well being as a person and a theatremaker.
Where and how did you find yours and what does it mean to you?
Some of my artistic homes I searched for and some I was invited to join. When I was in Chicago, my playwright friend Laura Jacqmin asked if I needed a writers’ group. At the time I was just out of graduate school and I was feeling incredibly isolated in my work. Our group went from four to five to six and we stopped there. It was a perfect number and those five playwrights in Chicago are the reason I finished writing my last two plays. The writing group makes me feel like playwriting is a team sport. The same is true of the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. I got my “back door key” when I was awarded a Jerome Fellowship. But that wasn’t what made the Center feel like a home. It was having the director of external affairs sit and watch me eat Thai food before a reading of mine, so I wouldn’t have to eat alone. Or stumbling into the artistic director’s office un-showered and panicked about a deadline only to emerge fifteen minutes later with a feeling a great calm and the name of a stellar massage studio. What does it mean to feel like you have an artistic home? It feels amazing. It makes me feel grounded and at the same time inspired to take huge risks. Because if I soar, there will be folks to enjoy it. And if I crash and burn there will be a refuge, and a first aid kit under the kitchen sink.
What does it mean to feel like you have an artistic home? It feels amazing. It makes me feel grounded and at the same time inspired to take huge risks. Because if I soar, there will be folks to enjoy it. And if I crash and burn there will be a refuge, and a first aid kit under the kitchen sink.
How can one create and/or build an artistic home for others?
I may be oversimplifying here, but I think if you want to build an artistic home for other artists, then build a place where those artists want to be. What do they want in the pantry, short-term and long-term? Are there clean sheets in the spare room? By that I mean can the artists camp out a bit. Be it a workshop, an intensive seminar, or an all day design meeting. Is it okay to play in the yard? Is there a place to run around and get re-invigorated or play ping-pong? Is there a place where those artists can go that’s separate from the familiar walls of a rehearsal room and gain a different perspective?
What is the artistic home of the future?
Oh dang, I have no idea. It depends on the artists. In some ways the economic environment we are currently experiencing is being reflected in our artistic homes. We’re moving back in with our parents. We’re taking in roommates. In short we all are downsizing yet increasing the number of folks under our roofs. A theatre is no longer a rehearsal space and performance space. It’s a salon space, a place for political activism, a gala headquarters, an educational out-reach center, a gallery space, a bar. And of course the inverse is true, our living rooms are turning into theatres. Our cars performance spaces. Our public streets and sidewalks new studios.