Monday, January 29, 2007

33 Years, 31 Seasons, 41 Members

posted by brad at 10:10 PM
32 of the 33 Steppenwolf members gathered on the White House lawn in 1991. Missing is John Mahoney.

"The longest-existing theater ensemble in the United States" announced on their blog today the addition of 6 new ensemble members. This is by far the largest group addition the Steppenwolf company has made in a while and seems quite deliberate in terms of helping to bring more diversity to the ensemble.

We get a lot (I can only imagine how many Steppenwolf must get) of emails and phone calls from people who "want to get involved" with our company. Most of whom, haven't even been to see a show at our place, much less have a sense of what it means to be a member of the company. We also have people who ask the question directly - how can I join the ensemble? How can I become a member?

Unfortunately "membership" and "ensemble" have become interchangeable in many theatre companies and models around the country. Our view has always been that ensemble was much closer to a group of artistic soul mates than a general membership indicates. People you respect and admire so much that you want to help create and find opportunity for all of them as much as for yourself, for the next 20 or 30 years. And because of that, there is something inherently great about the work.

Our ensemble is currently at 12. We're building it slowly. Intentionally so. Being an ensemble member at Furious means that you have artistic directors looking specifically for opportunities that fulfill your artistic aspirations and help build a career path for you. In exchange for your commitment to the group. No trash duty, no dues. This philosophy is what drives our script selection, our casting and our aesthetic. Right now, 12 is the right number and it is the right group of people. Certainly, we have also been blessed with the talents and contributions of phenomenal guest artists and Furious favorites, those who've worked with us multiple times.

So, when will our ensemble grow again? We'll know when we know. Steppenwolf has always been a big inspiration to Furious. Their example of how to build, sustain and satisfy a true ensemble while producing some of the country's best theatre merits respect and admiration.

See the announcement of the new Steppenwolf members here. The entire ensemble here.
Be Furious.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Sea of Possibilities

posted by brad at 9:43 AM

This past Sunday the Furious Board of Directors convened at one of our member's beach house for a day long retreat. It was a time for all of us to both reflect and look forward. Our own "State of the Union" so to speak. Thankfully, the day provided tremendous unification and clarity for what the company's focus, identity and challenges are, currently and for the future. There was no partisanship in the beach house.

We drank a lot of coffee in the morning, ate a little salad for lunch, spotted some dolphins, and then drank more coffee in the afternoon. We spent over six hours talking and discussing and filling up giant note pads with thoughts, ideas, questions and action items around our company's mission. The dialogue was intense, insightful, fearless and inspiring. Now the hard part, execution. Here's a shot of the our break, most people are hovering back by the coffee pot.

2007 marks our 5th year in existence (to the public). As we took time to look back on our accomplishments and failures and used those learnings to help look ahead at the future, there is literally a sea of possibilities for our company, our artists and our audience. In large part because of this group. The incredible strength and resources our board members (eight amazing civic and community leaders) have brought to help our emerging company accomplish everything on those giant note pads, and more. So, this retreat was about charting our next course. Creating the next map for the company's growth and development. Always moving forward. Furiously.

We decided we needed another retreat in July to check in again. I think we all just like the beach house.

2007 Season Announcement is coming soon...

Be Furious.