In Good Company
By Zachary Arnold
Hello Brelby Buzz readers. My name is Zachary Arnold and you may know me from performing in Nonfat Soy Peppermint Mocha Latte…with Sprinkles (A Tale of Christmas Spirit), Blacklisters, Fools, or from being that one guy you often see around the theatre that looks lost and you have no idea why he is always around. Well, hi. Nice to meet you. I am Brelby Theatre Company’s Marketing Liaison.
I first stepped through the doors of Brelby Theatre Company at the naive age of seventeen. It was the summer before my senior year of high school and I was very lost in life. The show I attended was a ‘pay what you can’ event. I remember feeling guilty that I was only paying $5 for a world premiere musical. But let me tell you, if I had decided to just stay home that night I would not be where I am right now. That night, I was introduced to Brian Maticic. He was wearing a toga or chiton, I always get the two confused. It was right after the production finished and audience members were congratulating cast members on a great performance. I attended the show with two close friends, one of whom had previously worked with the company. She greeted Brian and mentioned that I was a fellow ‘Theatre Nerd.’ It sparked a long conversation about high school theatre, positions that were open for future productions, and by the end of the night I had an interview set for the following week to possibly join the stage crew of Brelby’s next show. Brian was welcoming and encouraging. Anyone that has ever met Brian will agree that he is the most compassionate and charming person on this planet. He made me eager to expand my theatrical experiences.
That interview is where I met Shelby Maticic, the inspirational woman who would eventually become my greatest mentor. I was extremely nervous for this meeting. I considered bailing on it, making up some excuse that I was worried community theatre would affect my grades in school even though it was summer vacation. But, I talked myself into going. I walked into that lobby where Shelby, Brian, and another collaborative artist were discussing some television show they all loved. It was probably Doctor Who. The environment was very comforting. I sat down at the edge of the brown sectional couch distancing myself from the pack. I was convinced this interview was going nowhere. I would respond with short answers, give the wrong impression of myself, and leave never thinking of the place again. But the interview quickly felt like catching up with friends I had not seen in years. It was easy to talk to Brian and Shelby. We talked about my stage management experience in high school, what shows were coming up, what I planned on doing after high school. I mentioned stage managing my high school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. As luck would have it, Brelby’s next production was Little Shop and they were seeking a stage manager. Being the naive guy I was, I jumped at the opportunity. I was going to show off my management skills and it was all going to be a piece of cake. Oh boy was I wrong.
Little Shop of Horrors was when I learned theatre outside of high school was nothing like what I expected. Everything was different. Everything. The expectations, the rehearsal process, the people, the light board! No seriously, I freaked out that the lighting system was different then my high school’s. I was very underprepared. But that was no one’s fault. I just had assumptions but thankfully, I was not going into this alone. There was a second stage manager. Did I forget to mention that Little Shop of Horrors had two separate casts? Two. Casts. Holy crap.
I was a terrible stage manager. Absolutely horrible. I didn’t know what blocking was, I had no idea I was supposed to write down the blocking, I missed production meetings because I did not know they existed, and Shelby honestly carried most of the show herself. But it was a learning experience. I am a much better assistant stage manager then an actual stage manager. And assistant director as I would later discover.
Brelby has been a lot of firsts for me. The biggest being my first time acting. My first ever role was ‘Boots’ in Revenge of the Space Pandas: Or, Binky Rudich and the Two-Speed Clock by David Mamet. That audition process was the most terrifying moment of my life. My first audition, and I restarted my first monologue a dozen times. Literally. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I was determined. Determined to get over this fear of auditioning. I’ll let you know if I ever do truly conquer that fear. But apparently I did something right, because I was called back and even offered a role.
Like I said, Brelby holds a lot of my firsts. My first time officially stage managing, my first time assistant stage managing, my first time assistant directing, my first time designing props, my first time working on a world premiere, my first solo directing project, my first time taking an acting class, my first acting role, my first lead role.
I have experienced a lot with Brelby. I have been a panda from space who was equipped with a golden laser gun, a Russian shepherd that played the trumpet backwards and had a sheep named Olga, an angsty thug with a lip piercing and early set grey streak of hair, a father lost at sea who grew gills from being away for so long, a Gryphon who was best friends with a unicorn and wielded a spear that he kicked butt with, a naive warehouse worker who wanted to join the film institute and rebelled against society’s restrictions, and my absolute favorite experience, an overly caffeinated barista who was secretly a Christmas Spirit in training that showed even the grumpiest of scrooges the true meaning of the holidays.
Boots. Something Something Snetsky. A Wannabe Musketeer. Admiral Griff. Gryphon. Judd. Spirit. They’re all different parts of me each teaching me something new.
Currently, I am working alongside Shelby for the third time as assistant director helping bring Dogfight to life. This show is amazing. This cast is unbelievably talented and we have a really great production team. It is crazy to think this is my seventeenth production with Brelby. My eighteenth is right around the corner, another first for me. My first time designing costumes.
I am still fairly lost in life. I live my life disorganized and cluttered. I have bought six different agendas for just 2017 because I either lose them or they become discombobulated. But I am happy with who I am. I love my life. I love my casts. I love my production teams.
Live life with love.