Becoming the Change I Want to See: On Being a Female Theatre Artist Revisited
By Amanda Trombley
Collaborative artist, director, wife, mother of toddler, blogger, feminist, Amanda Trombley wears a lot of hats. Fresh off of her incredible performance of “Being Alive” in The 2nd Annual Miscast Concert, Amanda and her husband Dan are co-directing Brelby’s upcoming MainStage production of The Tempest. In this essay, originally posted to her blog “Alphabet Resolutions,” Amanda discusses coming to terms with not only asking for what you want and need, but identifying what that may be to begin with, specifically now that the needs of her family have changed.
A friend and fellow collaborator recently posted on her Facebook an image of what she has as her computer desktop image… well, to give you a better idea what I’m talking about, here it is:
She then asked as part of her status which phrase everyone was feeling that day, and the one that stood out to me was: ask for what you want and need. This mantra is something that probably stands out because I have a really hard time doing it, even though time after time things go so much better when I do practice being up front and asking for these things. I think there are a couple big components to this- 1. knowing what you want 2. knowing what you
need 3. knowing the difference. That in and of itself is really hard, and then when you add in the vulnerability of asking for those things it gets even harder- What will people think of what you want and need? What if they say no? What if you get what you asked for and it turns out it’s not quite what you wanted after all? All these things make it difficult to ask.
A prime example of asking for what you want and need is the work my husband and I are doing right now with The Tempest. When the artistic directors of Brelby sat down to talk with us about the show, we made it clear to them that we couldn’t do it without a certain level of support- namely a childcare option. To be honest, I was so stressed about this ask that I felt sick to my stomach for a few days before. I really wanted to be involved in this production but it was just not possible for our family without bringing our son with us to rehearsals. Luckily, they agreed! But the first week of rehearsals it was hard for me to own this ask, to acknowledge that it meant more work from the Brelby team to make this show happen when I know they are already running around putting a staggering amount of work into their season. But you know what? The more I worried and tried to keep my son in the room with me instead of asking for help from a member of our team, the more it distracted from rehearsal. The more I apologize about a toddler crying because he’d rather be up playing around the theatre instead of being put down for bed, the longer we have to talk about my kid crying instead of focusing on what we’re there to work on.
The longer I stupidly deluded myself that people were just being nice and accommodating our child being there begrudgingly, the longer I kept myself from seeing the joy he brings into the rehearsal room and the energy he can inspire in some of the actors. For me, a turning point came last weekend when one of our cast members thanked my husband and I for bringing our son with us to rehearsals because it gave them hope that you could do theatre and have a family instead of having to shun one over the other. They had never seen an example of that before. And to be honest, I have seen very rare examples and struggled with the same doubts.
So if we can be part of empowering a model that allows people to live a life in the arts while raising a family, I am thrilled with that. And what we told our cast member in response was that they should thank the artistic directors who were open to such an unconventional model of working. It may not seem like it at first glance, but it is a bold, feminist move to allow childcare to help mothers and fathers keep working- especially when you work strange hours where “daycare” is not even an option! I’m happy to say Brelby is not the only theatre we worked with that has supported us in allowing to incorporate our baby into our lives in the theatre instead of scorning us for having a life outside the theatre.
To read the rest of this post and others on topics regarding working in Theatre, having a family, her Season Preview and much more head over to Amanda’s blog here http://alphabetresolutions.com/