If we aren’t thinking about performing in an others-centered way...I think we are doing it wrong.
I have recently returned from Sonoma, CA, where I had the JOY of working with Transcendence Theatre Company. For the past few years, I’ve had friends and other artists tell me about the magic of this company, and I was ecstatic to finally be a part of the Transcendence community. Transcendence has a mission to create theatrical experiences that, “make a positive impact on the world and inspire us all to live the best life ever!” And friends, that is exactly what they do.
From day one at Transcendence, the focus of our rehearsal process was on the TEAM. Always support the TEAM, always encourage the TEAM, lean on the TEAM, let the TEAM lean on you. This focus on creating a show as a team immediately shifted my often perfectionistic, anxious mindset. We were putting on a show as a true ensemble, and we had each other’s backs, no matter what. If someone needed help on choreography (cough cough), there was always a team member willing to work after hours or during break moments at rehearsal. We would rehearse together after-hours and make salsa and cocktails to enjoy ourselves in the process. We worked out together, went on meal runs together, and spent days off together. During tech, if a team-mate was struggling with a set-change or quick-change, another team-mate had his or her back instantly. There was no sass or attitude...only support. Everyone looked out for each other. If there was a light cue that was dark or strobe-y, someone from the cast would say, “Alie B., can you see OK?” — before I could even open my mouth. A member of our cast got hurt mid-process, and the whole team stepped up to help support him and support the pieces in our show that would need to change and adjust. The hearts of this cast were others-centered, and that makes for a process filled with compassion and community.
Dream. Team. Every. Day.
This focus on taking care of each other reaches beyond the internal Transcendence community and out into the greater Sonoma Valley community. The pre-show experience at TTC is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the performances themselves. During pre-show, every actor, crew member and volunteer was assigned pre-show picnic duties...and everyone poured into their duties whole-heartedly. Because Transcendence pours so much into their artists, the artists are hungry to pour into the community and share this love and joy. And let me tell you, it is so magical to interact with young audience members and their families...to hear what they are excited about, and to pump them up about live theatre under the Sonoma stars! On opening night, TTC brought in kids from the Sonoma Valley Boys and Girls club, and they got to see our show free-of-charge. Some of us even got to teach these kids choreography and music from the show, which was such a blast. It’s so exciting to be with kids experiencing the magic of theatre for the first time. These experiences make being onstage a much richer experience. They remind us of the “why” behind our passions.
My hope is to keep this electric spirit filled with open-heartedness and compassion alive in NYC. To use art as service. To see performing and auditioning as an offering, rather than a judgement-fest. To support other artists on their journeys. To use music and theatre as a means to give back to populations who need some more love and light.
Thank you, Transcendence. Thank you for igniting sparks of joy, creativity, compassion, and transformation within all of us. Thank you for teaching us to take those four deep breaths, and for teaching us to see each day as a chance to live the best day ever.
The whole TTC Team after the Fourth of July parade in Sonoma Square!
Our beautiful theatre! The gorgeous backdrop of Jack London State Park!