So. Last year, when I was out of work, I was driving by an abandoned movie theater, and it started to piss me off. Here I am with my theatre group desperately seeking a new venue, and there's a perfectly fine unused building with seats and box office and marquee already there.
So I called the mayor.
Asked him what would be involved, and what possible support could we expect from the city to secure the theater?
He basically told me that the owner is adamant that he will not sell it, and will not lease it for less than prime dollars (even though, by then, it had already sat there vacant for almost a year, earning the guy zero dollars). The mayor was kind but blunt -- forget it.
But he also said that I should call a woman named Carol. She has a barn she has always wanted to convert to a theatre.
Well. I knew from reputation that this woman was "wacky," a free-spirited creature who believes in angels and souls and a potpourri of new-age rot in which I had less than zero interest. I am always, at best, uncomfortable around such people, and I certainly didn't want to engage in a project like this with her.
Had I been working at the time, I would have chalked it up and written it off and never called.
But the next day, I'm sitting at home, having just finished my job search of the day, and I figured "what the hell?" So I called her, introduced myself, and we agreed to meet.
This is just another example of how being out of work was very much a blessing buried in the burden, because I'm quite certain I'd not have bothered to call her if I'd been busily employed.
She's wonderful. She's kind and bright and not in the least "wacky." Did I mention she's wonderful?
...and we are doing it. We are in the process of launching a huge project -- The Strongsville Center for the Performing Arts....this in the worst economy in 80 years. Our goals are high and difficult and worth it, and I believe in them. And in us.
We have a small team -- just four of us -- along with a larger committee that is helping. We're going to do it. We are.
I can't help smiling at the thought that we are building something that will matter to an entire region -- both economically and artistically -- and that it will be there 100 years from now.
And I will have been a part of it. In fact, I also smile at the fact that I actually get to design my own theatre. How cool is that? I'm the lead on the design committee, and the design looks really great (although we're still iterating through it)....but designing my own theatre? Seriously? Maybe this is what I was born to do....'cause in a way, all the things I've done in my career (project management, fiscally responsible budget control, managing every aspect of a theatrical season (from play-writing to play selection to direction to performance to technical design and direction (lights, set, and sound)) have prepared me for this.
I should re-state some of the above -- by no means is it me that is doing this -- it's US . The group of four are working hard and in harmony.
Together, we are going to pull this off. This impossible dream.