by Natasha Troop
Whenever Marie wandered into an intimate theatre like the Eclectic, she tried to grab a seat in the back corner, that way she could check out the space, people-watch the audience and, hopefully, get a good view of the show. She had seen hundreds of plays in such places and worked on dozens more over the course of her decades-spanning career as an actress and producer. Taking her favored seat, her first impression of the space was that it was more than intimate; it was cozy. It was comfortable to the seasoned thespian, like a perfect sweater on a foggy L.A. morning. She knew it had history; the kind of that most shoebox theatres only dream of when they open their stages; one proudly worn in the myriad show posters that adorned the lobby and lighting fixtures of varying stages of repair hanging from the grid, fighting the good fight to provide light to just one more show. As she let her eyes wander over the space, she saw its potential: enough comfortable seats to house a break-even audience and a versatile performance space just large enough to provide the possibility of intricate settings or multimedia integration.
The potential of this theatre was held in more than its physical attributes. It lived in the people that called this company home. Marie listened in as the producer spoke passionately to a guest about her upcoming production about how she had dreamed of making it happen for years and never found a group willing or able to give her access to the space and the talent. She felt her pulse quicken as the idea of belonging to a company without an artistic director took hold of her imagination. Like this producer, she had works she wished to stage but had long given up hope of producing. For the first time, she could see herself joining a group of peers and being a part of making dreams real, including her own.