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 Luke Gomez
My word is originality. There’s a lot to this word, and there’s a lot that can be said about it and Brelby. Just off the top of my head I could talk about The Age of Eibhleaan, or Non-Fat Soy Peppermint Mocha Latte… with Sprinkles, two shows written by Brelby artists that depending on when you’re reading this are either in production or done or about to go up. In fact there’s quite a lot that we could talk about, this season and especially the next, but before we get into that I’d like to talk about me. It’s a subject I pretend to dislike talking about but really it’s probably one of my favorite.
Anyways, when I was a freshman in college, I started to more and more identify myself a playwright and as such I became very conscious and focused on my “voice.” Every artist has one, whether they write or draw or make music or act, they all carry a style that is unique to them. In most cases this is simply a natural and in many cases unconscious process, being just the culmination of a person’s innate talents and the experiences and skills they’ve developed and learned over time. For me though, it was important I was aware of my voice. I wanted mine to be unique, and one that was worth listening to. I began looking at other writers and artists I admired to help develop mine, Nietzsche, Hunter S Thompson, David Mamet were a few examples.
Some of you are probably recognizing the stupidity of finding an original voice by trying to mimic others, but freshman me was not very smart, nor sophmore me or junior or senior or super senior and you know what, let me get back on point.
My point is that some things can’t be forced like inspiration and especially originality. I’ve found, having stumbled and failed enough, that your voice will come through as long as you’re concerned about giving the absolute best of yourself in your art.
This brings me back to Brelby. When I think of this Company, I think about the kind of voice it’s created. Much has been said, especially on this very blog, about the type of community of artists and friends that Brelby has become, but what about the art itself? How do the plays, Brelby has made, over the course of 7 years and give or take 35 shows define this theater?
A few things come to mind: intimate, scrappy theater as we’re often described, an increasing emphasis on strong female roles but most significantly is Brelby’s commitment to original and new works. Next year Brelby is doing an almost unprecedented season in the Phoenix area: 9 new original works all either World Premieres of local playwrights or shows never done in Arizona. Of our full season only 2 shows are established, mainstream pieces. No other Company is doing this and at this scale, I don’t even have to look at each individual theater in this town’s website to know this.
What really strikes me, though, is not the season itself, it’s how this commitment to new and original plays has been so prominent even from the beginning of Brelby. I decided to take a look back at all the shows Brelby’s done starting in 2009 and there is one constant: new works. Even when we were just doing 2 real shows a year, something new would most definitely be produced. Some of that is practicality; new works don’t need royalties. But another reason is entirely because of Brelby’s desire, even back then, to showcase new works. We can now safely say we are THE West Valley new works incubator.
I just realized I might have contradicted myself, considering earlier I said one’s voice comes naturally and just now suggested Brelby’s originality was a conscious choice.
I guess originality, like inspiration can’t sometimes always be quantified in clear cut terms. Maybe I’m just rambling. So I’ll close with this little story. It’s from back during our first year in the space we’re in now in Glendale. It was around the time of our Christmas show and Shelby talked about how when describing our Christmas show, someone had asked what was weird about it, as Brelby apparently was beginning to get known for being off-beat.
I was rather proud of hearing that we’d started to develop that reputation, naturally. Now that we’re less than 2 months away from 2016 and a “new frontier” in terms of our season, I’m excited to find out the things people will say about Brelby in the future. Will they like what we have to say? Will they get weirded out? Offended? I don’t know. I do know, though, that whatever we have to say, it is entirely our voice that says it.