Saving The Santa Monica Playhouse!

Just recently we were in Los Angeles doing some “biz” stuff, and had the pleasure of spending some time at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Santa Monica, my favourite area of LA. Peter D. Marshall and I spent a Saturday at the Playhouse at their Main Stage having a little “Meet ‘n Greet”.

When you arrive at the Playhouse, you have no idea what awaits. You walk into a magical cave, a funky old building with doors hiding performance spaces, a European flavoured courtyard, and a vibe of valued history.

Part of the courtyard

Evelyn Rudie, and Chris DeCarlo are wonderful people who have been running the Playhouse since 1973. The Playhouse, itself, has been producing, non-stop for 49 years and is headed to its 50th, if all goes well. Since Evelyn and Chris have been co-artistic directing, the Playhouse has been honoured with over 250 awards and commendations, and has presented 500 classic, contemporary, and original productions!

Evelyn Rudie and me

Things are somewhat challenging for them at the moment (who isn’t having problems in the arts?), and they have started a “Save The Playhouse” campaign to get them to the end of this year.

After, seeing this intimate treasure with its maze of lovely spaces, and a main stage drenched in theatrical vibes of a historical nature, I promised I would see if I could get a bit more of the world to know about them. And with that exposure, maybe some help would come through.

Entrance to the Main Stage

I could be criticized for not writing about something that is more local, but these days, my world feels quite global, and a theatre in need is a THEATRE in need. And, besides, I just like these guys, a lot, and it’s my blog!

And this isn’t just any theatre.

Co-Artistic Director, Chris DeCarlo, a Viet Nam veteran, said that his experiences convinced him that his mandate was to put the human back in humanity. “All of us at the Playhouse want to make a dramatic difference in our world.”

I hope they continue, because as I strolled on the boards of their “Main Stage”, I dared to speak a few words of my one-woman show I’m developing, and it felt good!

If you would like to investigate further, please see their website, and if you feel moved to contribute to their continued success, don’t hesitate (there’s a “donate” button on their site). They are super, and the kids who study there think so too!

(By the way, Evelyn Rudie was the youngest actress to ever receive a Hollywood Star on the Walk of Fame….wow! 🙂 )

Save the Playhouse!
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Create Your Own Door, & Open It…

When one door closes, another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell

Thank you for the great quote Mr. Bell.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about those opening and closing doors. I’ve been thinking about the doors that have opened in my life and the doors that have been kept tightly closed. I’ve been thinking about some doors I should have maybe NOT gone through. And, some, I thankfully did go through.

As much as I can, and as much as I remember, I try to pay attention to any dusty lights suddenly extending my way from open doors. Sometimes, I’ve walked into doors, forced my way through doors, and found some doors just way too heavy to open. (I got my finger badly damaged in a closing door twice in my life because I was still trailing my hand as the door closed…hmmm… “don’t linger while the door is closing behind you”?)

Recently, I’ve watched others fall back in shock as doors have slammed in their faces just when they thought they were almost through. (Quick…look behind you! Maybe another door is waiting!!)

Can you relate?

Or, maybe it looks like there are so many doors open in front of you and you have to choose which one is seemingly the correct one. This can feel like playing Russian Roulette.

Sometimes, we wait too long for doors to open. We wait, and wait, and wait. Especially as actors, or people in the arts in need of others for their work to advance. We hope and wait. We get that audition and we wait. We get the call back and we wait. We wait for the jury to jury. We wait for the interview results. We wait for someone to tell us that we can practice our art.

Frustrating? I’ll say! You give power to someone you don’t even know in order to do the work you are destined for or are hungry to do.

A friend of mine who is also an Oscar winning actress was seeking work and wasn’t finding it. (Yes.. even winning an Oscar doesn’t guarantee you work!) Finally, she decided to create her own one-woman play. As she put it… she needed a job! A long story short, the show became a huge success and was requested everywhere. She had created her own door, and opened it wide. More attention eventually came her way and, of course, she was offered more of the work she had earlier been pursuing.

I look to the those imaginative pilgrims who boldly stride forth, and fling their own doors open and not passively wait for others to do so.

With some resistance, I was forced to open my own door several years ago because of a back operation. I had been doing work on film sets in costumes to help fund my theatrical thespian adventures, but after a long period of rehabilitation, and some permanent nerve damage, I knew I couldn’t costume supervise any longer.

So, I got entrepreneurial and started my own business – Hot Scarves ‘n Stuff, a special scarf with heat pads that I had created on a film set. I learned all the “businessy stuff”, and even did a business plan, but most importantly, I learned that you must love and be passionate about the work, which keeps you going through the tougher times.

Hot Scarves on Display
Hot Scarves on Display

Well, I didn’t love my “scarfy” venture enough. Try as I might, I just couldn’t sustain excitement for a fleece scarf. (What WAS I thinking?!!)

But, it did lead me to another venture that I do love- my buffoonery workshops. I had to open one door so I could get to the second door, which I managed to open on my own. (Thank goodness for those ideas that come in the shower!) I am hugely rewarded during my workshops when I get to watch others blossom in their “bouffoness” and become freer beings having fun!

Bouffons in Action!
Bouffons in Action!

The next heavy door I’ve created and I’m slowly pushing open, and I mean slowly, is a theatrical piece I’m writing for myself. Fear is the weighty material of this door, but I know I have to do this, especially as you are witnessing this statement!

What about YOU? May I ask you if this subject stirs some deep projects that have been brewing for some time or are you already boldly throwing doors open for us to watch? (I guess we all open doors at different speeds.) Do you perform work that feels extraordinarily satisfying?

What do think? What is the door you need to create for you? (…buying a canvas, going to a poetry slam, playing at an open mic?) Are you waiting for something? What doors do you want to fling open?

I think I used the word door way too many times in this post, but, there are not too many synonyms for “door”! Wishing you well!