My Brelby Word: Empowerment

My Brelby Word
For the rest of November, every day, the Brelby Buzz will be bringing you the second installment of the November Blogathon. Thirty days, thirty original posts from Brelby’s Company Members and collaborative artists of Season 8. Each post will revolve around a word that artist considers to be integral to what art and Brelby means to them.

By Shelby Maticic

Shelby1My parents taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up.

This support and positivity followed through all of my phases. When I wanted to be a Baskin Robbins ice cream scooper? Of course. When I wanted to spread drywall as a career? Yes. When I wanted to be a veterinarian? Well…it was probably going to be more lucrative than ice scream scooper…but absolutely. I was empowered at a young age to create my own opportunities. To tell my own story.

I have an addictive personality. When I find a new thing to love, I obsess. I research. I learn everything I can about it, and become as much of an expert as is possible. This was the case when I first found theatre. I was obsessed. Whether or not my family hoped it was a phase, they didn’t let on. (Other than my brother lamenting my Cats phase.) They bought me soundtracks, tickets to the national tour of West Side Story, paid for gymnastics and tap lessons…they empowered me to pursue my passion and expand my horizons.

My undergraduate journey was a long one…it involves a lot of personal loss, falling in love, and a great deal of self-discovery. I was a vocal advocate for the issues that I thought were important, sometimes for the better…but not always. I learned a lot about when it’s worth pushing back, and when it’s time to self-reflect and organize. I was once referred to by a professor as a ‘gad fly.’ He wasn’t far off. If you’re really interested in the nitty gritty details of young adult Shelby, then let’s get coffee some time. I’m happy to tell you my story. It informs why I’m a risk taker, why it genuinely breaks my heart to see people I care about smoking, and why I’ll never settle for anything less than pursuing my dreams.

Shelby now? I’m still vocal about the causes that I believe in, but I’ve learned to begin by organizing and discussing. I’m still a storyteller. Lately, I’m more interested in the way that my story intersects with the stories of those around me, but I still believe that I can be anything that I want to when I grow up. The difference now is that I understand that along with difficult dreams comes a great deal of hard work, sacrifice, and lack of sleep.

So…why choose the word ‘empowerment?’ I could have chosen so many others…dream, passion, achievement, accomplishment…

Through this grassroots endeavor, I’ve become empowered. Brelby allowed me to become a female business owner at 23. I’ve seen artists act for the first time in their lives through our productions. We’ve brought to life the first full productions of several Arizona artists. We’ve seen individuals write their first plays with us. We’ve seen artists gain the tools to combat stage fright, anxiety, depression, self-confidence issues and more. We’ve seen friendships and romances blossom.

I’m responsible for a lot of things at Brelby, but the three things that I take most seriously are 1) Artist Development & Morale, 2) Season Selection, and 3) Hiring/Dissemination of Role and Jobs. There is a disparity in the arts world. It’s an issue of representation…for many groups. I’m always conscious of it as I make decisions at Brelby. I want to empower my artists to ask for opportunities, and I want them to grow with Brelby in a way that they continue the cycle and empower others.

Brian and I want to be a voice of empowerment within this theatre community. If we all fight hard enough, we can build a place where artists can make a living creating their art. We can provide a vehicle for Arizona playwrights to see their works produced…not just workshopped. (We’ll see 9 world premieres grace our stage next season…all shaped by Arizona storytellers). We can make risky decisions to bring lesser known titles to the Arizona theatre scene. We can provide more opportunities to women in our community. (Over 50% of our directing positions are held by women next season, and we’ll see nine intelligent and gifted women lend their voices as playwrights to help shape the stories on our stage.) We can and have built an environment where artists feel safe trying new things. Sometimes they fail, sometimes we stumble, but we believe in forgiveness and second chances. We pick each other up and move forward. We keep moving forward.

We take a breath, take a break, take a chance…and get back to creating.
Creating art.
Creating a family.
Creating a community.
Creating for the community.
Creating stories.

Creating our stories.

I hope you all discover a place where you feel empowered to try and make your dreams come true. (Whether it’s through Brelby, or another supportive environment.) It’s probably not going to be fast. It’s probably not going to be easy. It’s probably going to involve reaching your breaking point, thinking that you can’t take any more stress or disappointment, and you’ll probably want to give up at some point.
Don’t give up.

Keep pushing. Keep trying. Keep creating. Keep writing your personal story.

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