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 Cody Goulder
People often tend to view growth in the most literal of terms. You plant something, give it love and support, tend to it, nurture it, then watch it grow into new forms, shapes, and ideas. This is also true of artists. When given the opportunity to stretch and venture into uncharted waters, they often find themselves “growing” into a skill or art or talent; sometimes one previously undiscovered and it changes their whole world. Whenever I step into Brelby, I am stepping into a literal talent garden of artists just bursting with potential. No matter who walks in, every person is seen for who they have the potential to become and not “only” or “simply” who they are. All too often, people who start off as “just” actors, for example, go on to become incredible designers or directors. People who are excellent speakers learn to listen and become dramaturges. High school students grow before my very eyes into some of the most gifted and talented actors I’ve ever had the privilege of working with in my career to this point. At Brelby, you are expected to become better than yourself and what better feeling is that in all the world? For someone to look at you and say, “you’re very good AND I know how special you are.”
When I first came to Brelby the first thing they asked me to do was play. To be myself. From those first few moments, I knew I was in the nurture stage of growth: where a seed is planted and begins the germination process. However, my story is a bit different than that. For me though, I had reached a point where I didn’t know what my identity was anymore. But from the moment I came to Brelby, the process of growth began not just for who I am today but also a regrowth back to the ambitious artist I used to be.
Before I came to Brelby, I thought I was done growing as an artist, let alone someone who should be in the theatre. I thought every artistic part of me had dried up; I wasn’t a skilled scenic person or a potential playwright or even a decent actor. I thought I was non-effective. I felt like one of those leaves that had fallen off the tree only to be stepped on by wandering bystanders. I had long wanted to keep theatre in my heart since it was a safe place for me to be and I did plays for myself but none of them felt like me anymore. My initial thought before auditioning for Brelby was one last hurrah before I drifted off into the “dark” of a “normal” life. I figured, “why not have one last audition? See what happens?” Looking back, I can pass it off as a glimmer of hope, but honestly it was that last creative seed in me that just needed some water.
I came into the audition for Fools and immediately felt like myself again. I had known of Brelby for some time. I had sat in the audience for plays like She Kills Monsters and Revenge of the Space Pandas and saw what a theater should be; a place of adventure, fun, and family. Something I had long been out of touch with. And instead of slinking off the side and keeping quiet during my Fools audition, I could feel my energy shore. I was joking and laughing because I felt something that had been missing for some time: comfort. My spirit began to grow that day. When I got the offer to play Dr. Nikolai Zubritsky, my heart soared. I didn’t expect to get cast. I didn’t think I should belong at Brelby. I was too far gone and dark for such a magical place. But, Brelby wanted me to play. They say a part of me that need to regrow its limbs… and keep growing.
The opportunities Brelby has given me are far beyond what I think I deserve but I am so grateful. So much has happened in one year going from a absent-minded foolish doctor to an absentee high-sailing pirate to an out of his time clockmaker to a brooding musketeer. In these shows and the interactions with other Brelby artists, I have regrown my image as an actor. It has been a long road, still fighting back the weeds of insecurity and rust. But, I have kept going, seizing every chance I’ve been given to continue my growth. When I was presented the opportunity to create sets for The Tempest and Dotty Dot!, I was nervous, vastly uncertain. Did I still have the right or the skill to even do this? Based on the support of those around me, I can absolutely say that yes, I do. Most recently, the itch to write plays again has begun to grow since I saw two of my older pieces come to life at the Glendale Ghost Stories event. I guess this is a long winded way of saying, I can feel myself growing again. Growing back into the artist I’ve dreamed to be and the man I’ve long forgotten I could be.
At Brelby, my soul grows complete. It grows complete for others where the quiet and nervous transform into the leaders and pioneers of the future. But, to me, Brelby is more than that. It’s a new family I’ve grown into (or more been taken in I guess is a better way of putting it). I wish I could say the process has been easy. But I was in such bad shape, worse than I realized, when I first stepped in those doors. I have often thought that my growth was underserved and fake. That I would be found out or shunned as I had before. That I would push away and “outgrow” my welcome. But, for every slip into that shadow, for every ounce of negative, the people and family at Brelby have pulled me back to them, continuing to nurture my growth and process. I can’t say I’m done growing. But what I can say is this place is a home. A place where you must grow to flourish and where you are needed to do so. Brelby has become so much more to me than just a theater. It’s a chance to sow some seeds and grow even more. We grow together as a family and we are bringing everything we’ve got to the Glendale area.
I’m so blessed to be along for the ride. No longer a quiet fool, I’ve grown into what I’ve always wanted to be and continue to dream of who I can be in the future. Brelby asks for dreams to come true. All you have to do is plant the seed and watch it grow.