About Me

My photo
I'm an NYC-based director, and this is an outlet for my various musings about theater and about the city of New York. Sometimes the subjects run together, sometimes they are entirely separate, but between the two they comprise the most fitful, most intense, most trying love affair of my few years. They fill my head, my heart, my mouth every hour of every day; they could fill a book.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Benefits of Twitter, Part 2

Slowly but surely, I'm coming out of my fog and getting back into my old groove. The first loose end I want to tie up here: finishing my little manifesto on Twitter.  A little over a month ago, I started talking about why Twitter is awesome, and I found had so much to say that I couldn't finish.  But so much that has been so illuminating should not go unsaid.  So, to say that Twitter changed my perspective would not be saying enough.  Without question, it changed my understanding of what the word networking meant, and my intention in seeking an artistic community.  But, let's face it, words in digital space can only go so far, and if my Twitter experience had remained confined there, I think I would have eventually gotten frustrated.  But what was really uplifting about my Twitter experience was how it broadened my actual, physical theater community, too.

It started simply enough.  I was connecting with artists virtually and learning about new companies and projects all over New York City.  All of the networking and connecting and conversing was making me hungry to get out there and start seeing and supporting all the great stuff I was hearing about.  One particular person whom I was followed was the artistic director of a theater company that looked pretty cool.  The company had an intriguing show coming up, so I decided to go. 

The show was great, and after it was over, I spoke to the artistic director.  "Hi,"  I said, "I just wanted to introduce myself.  My name is Leigh Hile, I've been following you and your company on Twitter."

"Oh yeah," he said.  "Leigh.  I've been reading your blog, it's good."

I have to admit, that was a pretty sweet moment for me.  At this point, I had been living and working in New York for about four and a half years.  I had seen a lot of cool theater and introduced myself to a lot of artists I hoped to work with, many of whom I'm pretty sure forgot my name as soon as I spoke it.  This was the first time I had ever introduced myself to one such cool artist to find that he already knew my name

It may not seem like much, but for me, it was the beginning of a whole new way of making connections, finding a community, and becoming a part of new and exciting projects.

The artist I had been following was August Schulenburg and his theater company was Flux Theatre Ensemble.  I quickly came to find that Flux had a kind of artistic integrity that was deeply refreshing.  In addition to being incredibly talented and dedicated, the Flux community turned out to be some of the nicest, most inclusive and supportive group of theater-makers I met in New York.  Working with them brought back a sense of community and a love and excitement for creating theater that I had started to lose. 

After that, things just snowballed.  Gus first invited me to participate in Flux Sundays, and later, to direct a short scene for Flux's have another series.  There I met James Comtois, an awesome playwright and co-artistic director of Nosedive Productions, who in turn, asked me to direct a play for his theater company that summer.  Well, there must be a reason why James was hanging out with Flux, because the warmth and creative energy that I felt working with Flux just continued with my work with Nosedive.

I had more fun, and felt more of a pure purpose in my last five months in New York than I did in the five years previous; it pained me a little that I had planned to leave just when things were getting so good. 

And it didn't end there either.  I started following Kathryn Velvel Jones whom I had met through 50/50 in 2020, and watching her use social media to connect and innovate broadened my understanding of what social media and new technology can do for the arts.  Seeing her show, Better Left Unsaid, got me thinking about a whole new spectrum of theatrical possibilities.

I went to a 2amt "tweet-up" and met a huge number of artists face-to-face that until then I had only known as username, and a whole other group whom I had never heard of and, in turn, went home to follow and support.  I met new friends, new collaborators, and new theater-going buddies. 

I went to dozens of amazing shows that I never would have known about otherwise.   One such show was TerraNOVA Collective's Feeder: A Love Story by James Carter, who after meeting him in-real-life after the show, became yet another friend and collaborator; when later tweeted that I needed help figuring out how to self-produce on a larger level, James got in touch with me right away and offered his advice over coffee. 

I continued to attend Flux Sundays and other Flux readings and events, where I kept growing my circle of friends and collaborators.  I even met folks that I will be able to continue to collaborate with in New Mexico - like Charles Lucas who, as it turns out, works in New Mexico somewhat regularly.  Or like Larry Kunofsky, a great playwright who has actually written a play he's hoping to tour in New Mexico, a possibility I find incredibly exciting.

And, through James' connection to the company, I even got to see a scene from the play I directed for Nosedive in a Vampire Cowboys Saloon - a form of wish fulfillment on the geekiest level.

In seems sort of incredible.  Really?? Twitter made things so good?  But that's my story.

No comments:

Post a Comment