It is Brelby tradition to dedicate the month of November to giving a platform for our artists to share their stories. This month our annual Blogathon theme returns to its roots with a visit back to the topic of “My Brelby Story.” We’ve grown a great deal over the past few years, and many of our original bloggers have moved on to new careers, new lives, new challenges, and new cities. Enjoy this year’s series with 30 Days of Blogs.
My Brelby Story is long, and different from most of the others. It is both challenging, and rewarding, and completely worth it. Over 11 seasons, I’ve had the pleasure to watch artists come and go, have successes and breakthroughs, and struggle with failures and breakdowns. I’ve done my best through it all to hold space for them. To let them know that Brelby is a safe space for them to create, and push themselves, and not be afraid to fail. Let’s be honest, failure is only really failure if you give up. But if you learn from your failure and try again better, smarter, then failure is a gift and a chance to improve.
This has been a hard-earned perspective as Brelby has had its fair share of hurdles and challenges that nobody anticipated. With every challenge we’ve faced, and every failure we’ve encountered we’ve always dusted ourselves off re-positioned and pushed on. Its not an easy thing to do, and if it wasn’t for the incredible community of artists, advocates, and patrons we’ve collected along the way, we might not have had the strength or drive to do so. This community, this family and the art they strive to share makes everything worth it.
Shelby and I originally started Brelby to create opportunities. Opportunities to direct, to act, to design, to have our original scripts produced. We were never the type to wait for someone else to hand us something and were determined to create our own opportunities, and we wanted to share that opportunity with others. It started from simple discussions, led to larger meetings with artists, and mentors and then on to our first season. Which was a huge failure… at least financially. Ticketing revenue covered about a quarter of what we put in, but we learned so much about who and what we wanted Brelby to be and how to design our business model to keep moving forward and still focus on the artists and the opportunities at the center of our goals. We regrouped and started working to set down our roots in the valley. The ride since that time has been incredible, at times terrifying, at times blissful, but always rewarding as we watch artists young and old grow into ever more confident and talented performers. While our venue is larger and nicer, and our goals more ambitious, the heart of Brelby remains the same. Create opportunities for artist to imagine create and inspire.
Personally My art has been transformed by the artists that have come through Brelby. I try something new with every design, my directing and fight choreography has gotten tighter, and my writing has reached whole new heights. Our recent production of my original script Luna & Solis felt a little bit like a thesis of my time as an artist so far in my life. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever written, and one of the most challenging directing projects I’ve taken on. Beyond that it represented a new stage in Brelby’s growth. A long term development process. The script was conceived two years ago. It was produced as a one-act workshop production for the Herberger’s Lunchtime Theatre program, went through multiple rewrites and readings and discussions and culminated in something special. The entire Brelby Ensemble rallied around this show collaborating on all of the designs, crafting puppets, and shadow play, and original compositions. It turned into a whimsical heartfelt and original tale that left audiences laughing, and crying in all the best ways. Most exciting is that this show is not yet done growing. The team and I will be returning to the script for discussion and rewrites to make it even stronger, we will be adjusting designs to make them more impactful and will begin exploring how to take this show to all new audiences for a larger and longer life of the work. I hope to see you all for the next step in the life of Luna & Solis in season 12. This process and this play has paralleled my Brelby story. Full of hard work, but always growing, always improving, and completely rewarding every step of the way because it has been shared with the most incredible people and artists I every could have imagined.
Brelby is my home, my family, and my purpose. Brelby is the the artists and the community that it has brought together. My Brelby story is long and different than most because even after eleven years, I feel like it is just starting, and so much growth and joy still lays ahead.