It’s become a tradition at Brelby to spend the month of November reflecting on our artform and how it impacts us through our annual Blogathon. This year, in honor of our 10th Season, our Blogathon participants will be sharing lists of 10 things that have impacted them, whether they be lessons or memories…or are looking ahead towards future goals.
Today’s blogger, Aubrea Robards, has been with Brelby since its inception. She has been seen onstage recently in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She’s often around to lend a hand, and is one of the company’s biggest cheerleaders.
Below, she reflects on 10 lessons she has learned from being an artist.
10 Lessons I learned about art AT Brelby
I had the amazing good fortune of meeting Shelby and Brian, the creators of Brelby, long ago when we were all freezing our butts off up north at NAU. I remember when they first were discussing starting a theater company right after we all graduated. I thought they were crazy. Starting any company from the ground up sounded like a nightmare AND theater can be such a fickle field AND it was 2008-2009… the country was in a hardcore recession. I didn’t even know if I would have a job after college and I’m a dental hygienist! Brelby, however, was not to be thwarted. Those 2 refused to quit and refused to say when. This was the first lesson they taught me. You have to believe in your goal for it to be successful. I also learned another great lesson. Sometimes friends can be downers and you have to take their pessimism with a grain of salt.
Even though I thought they were crazy dreamers I was in, because I loved them both. I was the costume designer for their first show, Playing Games, that opened early that 2009 summer. The show used another theater’s space but we didn’t use their other resources for the most part; which meant the “costumes” were a collection of actors and my personal wardrobe. “Liz” almost exclusively wore my clothing; which was fine since I was a round little preggo mess by then, due with my first kiddo that December. Lesson 3…. You make art with what you have and even the most low key set/costumes/etc. matter not when you’re show’s heart is present on stage every performance. Lesson 4 was that even pregnant Aubrea can find the energy to love and participate in theater.
Life happens. We all slowly moved to Phoenix and they found a space in downtown Glendale. It was such an intimate space and they truly made it their own. They created a beautifully strong and incredibly committed core group of artists and supporters. There was so much sacrifice in those early years but EVERYTIME I asked, “hows the show going?” they’d answer, honestly, but also with a constant positive outlook. So that 5th lesson is how important it is to stay positive, it is one of the best motivators. I also learned how amazing a great, intimate group of supportive friends can be… Lesson 6 :]
One kid later and I finally came back to theater with Brelby. I was able to be apart of their Miscast concert 2 years in a row and fun surprise; a bunch of my old pals from my NAU thater days had also decided to join the fun, low key shows. This was lesson 7: friends made while performing and rehearsing are friendships that are so easily rekindled. Your inside jokes, little failures, big failures, and shared accomplishments are so ingrained into who you are that your bond is permanent. Lesson 8: theater people are cool and I like hanging out with them. We’re weird, funny, codependent, and love nerding out about theater together.
Fast forward to probably the best show I’ve been apart of E.V.E.R! 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was legit and we had not only a fantastic cast but the absolute best production team. My favorite thing we did was taking time during rehearsal to get to know each other and each other’s pasts. If you’ve worked with any production of Brelby you know how important cast bonding is to them and you could see the benefits before, during, and after our performances. I LOVED everyone on that show and Brelby taught me how important it is to open up and reveal your soul to truly tap into your potential. It was a great call back to lesson 4 as well, as I was 7 months pregnant when that show closed. Sooooo pregnant
The final lesson Brelby has taught me is that no matter where my life leads me and no matter what other interests I have, theater is a part of who I am and what I love. I have started a career, got married, had 3 kids. I’ve had my life change in so many ways for so many years; however I always keep coming back to Brelby and (because of them and those I’ve met there) have experienced such incredible moments at local theaters in the valley.