THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide




entire contents copyright 1997 by THE THEATER MIRROR

From: "Brandt R. Krueger"
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 1997 19:58:55 -0500


I ran across your site while surfing the net for job opportunities in the Boston area. I am a theater professional in Minneapolis planning on moving to Boston this summer and am desperately searching to see what's out there. If you could recommend some good places to look, I'd greatly appreciate it. The 24,000 hits on the search engines are growing old (and so am I as I search through them).
Please reply to Note: REPLY may not work as I'm flipping from browser to browser.

It's interesting to look back over the GREENROOM DISCUSSIONS here and see how many people, from eager students to theater professionals hope to find work here in Boston.
Paid work, of course.
The letter below --- all the way from England! --- and yours, Brandt, are typical.
Well, Boston is really a theater-Rich area, despite the long faces of all the professional "theater critics" who write about it. The number of people actively involved in putting plays on the boards every week around here is, well, awesome. And all those plays find AUDIENCES interested in experiencing Live Theater. Again, awesome.

But paid work is not so easy to come by.

Professional (i.e. Equity card-holding) actors have always had some difficulties making decent money here in Boston, though the pattern is improving. Even technical people and directors look on theater as a part-time job.
But my perspective on these problems has always been strange. What advice would YOU, who look into The Theater Mirror regularly, give to Brandt, or to Hanady?
Here's Her letter:

This message was using Graham Borehams E:mail System for Hanady Mousa. To reply to hanady please E:mail me or Send a letter to her Address. Thank you for you time.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------------

CM23 3LY

14th March 1997
Dear Sir/ Madam,
My name is Hanady Mousa and I am a girl who is very much interested in acting and the theatre world. I recently wrote away to a theatre group in Boston Ma. regarding their company and how I would go about it if I was to join in the future. As a result, I was given your address to contact to find out more about the theatre world in good old Beantown!!
Could you please send me as much information as possible on your company and others in Boston as I am deeply considering joining (hopefully) a few later on in the future.
I'd also appreciate it if you could inform me of theatre studies in Boston colleges/ universities and how I could possibly take up courses at any of them.
Thank-you for your co-operation and I hope to hear from you soon.
Thank You,
Hanady Mousa.

Graham, I'm going to use your E-mail, and thank you for making it available.
Dear Hanady,
Hi. I'm larry stark.
I'll go through your letter and make specific replies, but I should introduce myself.
If Graham has access to The Internet ("The World Wide Web"!), or you can get on the net at some local or school library, look into this web-site:
Lee vanderLaan and I run this information-site. We list all the plays you can see in the six New England states every week ((180-some this week), and you can probably get a better idea of the lay of the land in and around Boston there. But we're not a "company"; we don't do plays, and actually we haven't made any money. We just like theater!
But even if you do look at the listings, the reviews, the articles and comments and letters --- you must understand that theater in the States is a little different from that in England.

>I recently wrote away to a theatre group in Boston Ma. regarding their company and how I would go about it if I was to join in the future. Could you please send me as much information as possible on your company and others in Boston as I am deeply considering joining (hopefully) a few later on in the future.

These were the lines that got me thinking about the differences in the structure of theater in our two countries.
You see, in your terms there is really only ONE "company" here in Boston --- a heavily subsidized group called The American Repertory Theatre, which is in permanent residence in a theatre at Harvard University. They actually DO plays in repertory, they put together a company who work together through the year, and many of the actors, directors, and other artistic staff have been there for several seasons. Nothing like that is true of any other theatrical endeavor in the city. In fact, another heavily subsidized company working in a theatre at Boston University called The Huntington Theatre Company --- but there actors are hired for each separate production, and very often hired in New York City, not locally. The individual production, here in America, is the "company". The best a professional actor --- a member of Actors Equity --- can hope for is either a hit show in New York that runs for several years, or a touring-company of one of those hits that may play a week or two in dozens of cities across the country.
Otherwise, it's one show at a time.
And, oddly enough, the few genuine repertory companies or state-subsidized companies (like The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis), haven't the prestige with the public that the RSC or the National or the Birmingham Rep might have. The prestige goes to stars of Broadway in New York, and to movie personalities who do plays as well.
What this means is that there is no SECURITY involved in theater work here in the USA, with very rare exceptions. Actors are all "free agents", and the only permanent jobs in professional theatres are box-office and stagehanding jobs.
In America, people often become members of Actors Equity (the acting union) by getting cast in an Equity production, and then paying the initiation and dues! After that, they get a better chance at parts in new productions, but All Parts are up for grabs all the time. It's said that "an actor" in America is "a waiter who goes to auditions".
Contrariwise, though there's no secure structure, there are always Lots of theatrical performances using actors --- a lot of them paying nothing --- so if all you want to do is act, there are chances. The quality level, of course, varies. But that's true everywhere, isn't it?

>I'd also appreciate it if you could inform me of theatre studies in Boston colleges/ universities and how I could possibly take up courses at any of them.

Okay, that's the other problem with American theater: the "free-agent" system puts a tremendous emphasis on Drive rather than Training. Until the Juilliard Acting School was started in New York City, America really had no center for actor training, in the sense that RADA graduates can say they've been "trained" to do the work. Nevertheless, Lots of kids get a smattering of technique and theory and appreciation and emerge with degrees, and then discover that directors and casting-directors are enormously unimpressed by anything but how well your reading fits what they think the part needs.
But there are at least three schools here in the area with good theater programs.
BOSTON UNIVERSITY has just revamped their thinking, and has begun "auditioning" undergraduates for some sort of "promise" and giving them real Training for the craft, rather than a "liberal education" scattergun of appreciation requirements. They've also begun a program for acting and directing "majors" on a graduate-level that finishes with personal recommendations and help in auditioning for jobs after a year of training.
TUFTS UNIVERSITY and NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY have good programs in the traditional mold, with a lot of classes that people interested in "learning something about theater" take with the dedicated few. Still, in such programs the dedicated few can wallow in theater, and can shine in shows, so some of the need for "Drive" that I mentioned can blossom in a less go-for-broke setting.
HARVARD UNIVERSITY has no theater program at all, but probably more well-known names in American theater did time at Harvard (Leonard Bernstein & Jack Lemmon come to mind) than any of the "theater schools".
EMERSON COLLEGE has a theater program that attracts the "Driven" more than most. That can result in a lot of people who are always "acting" off-stage or on, but there is an Emerson personality, I think, that fits American theater in the same way that a RADA personality fits English theater. And Emerson owns a Broadway-size house right down in Boston's "theater district" where they get to work on several productions a year.

>Thank-you for your co-operation and I hope to hear from you soon.
>Thank You,
>Hanady Mousa.

Hanady, I have no idea whether anything I've said answers your questions in any useful way. I will admit, however, that you gave ME a chance to think about theater, here in Boston and here in America, in ways I never have before.
So thank YOU, Hanady!
And if you have more questions, please ask!
(a k a larry stark)
P.S.: Anyone else like to give any advice, or comment on my observations?

Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 13:06:34 -0400 (EDT) From: drobinson@WESLEY.IT.EMERSON.EDU (Davis Robinson)
Subject: beau jest-krazy kat

Larry-we have a new page for krazy kat, announcing upcoming productions by Beau Jest. if you would like to put in our link, the address is
this has all the information on our upcoming run at the Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston, SC, and will announce future Beau Jest productions as well. Thanks, Davis

Davis Robinson
Divison of Performing Arts
Emerson College
100 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02116

voice: (617) 824-8376
fax: (617) 824-8799

Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 12:40:35 -0400
From: Becky McNiven
Subject: a web site to try

My daughter and I enjoy reading NEED since she, at 16, is determined to have a musical theater career. One site that is fun to visit lists auditions around the US.
Its URL is
Becky McNiven
Amherst, MA


Do you know what a "list" is?
I don't know where the silly word came from, but apparently it means a series of communications on a single subject --- in this case theater --- sent simultaneously to a group of "subscribers" who can read, and then add their comments or answers or new ideas to the "list".
We "subscribed" to this "list" which is maintained out at Bridgewater for the New England Theater Conference and anyone else who is interested.

The best way to demonstrate what happens there is to show what happened over the last two days when someone doing a show needed a prop. Here's what happened:

Date: Thu, 03 Apr 1997 09:13:42 -0500
From: Gail Steele Reply-To:
Subject: RE: "Looking for a Phone B
At 07:28 AM 4/3/97 U, you wrote:

>Hi! Since my last posting looking for help finding "Equus" heads resulted in several responses, I thought I'd try again with a new request. I am now looking for a free standing phone booth (with or without a phone), in any condition, which could be borrowed for a show to be performed in the EMACT Community Theater Drama festival at Brandeis University May 29 to June 1.
>Thanks for the help!
Nancy Curran Willis, Director
>"A Stye of the Eye"
>Quannapowitt Players
>55 Hopkins St., Reading, MA

The telephone company actually has a props department. We have borrowed pay phones and booths at various times from them. Call you local phone company for more information. Good Luck.
(508) 632-6600 EXT 162

Date: Wed, 02 Apr 97 10:21:47 -0800
From: Darrell
Subject: New Faces 1952 0r 54

I am looking for a script of New Faces, and also the music, where can I find this score thank you.
I look forward in calling apon you with other requests.
darrell Calvin

My heavens, Darrell, you picked Exactly The Write Day to ask that question!!!

Cast your eyes to the letter below.
BAKER'S PLAYS is a theatrical bookstore, and they are agents for French's acting editions, and they deal with royalties on performances.
They are in the business of finding scripts for people!

And their new web-site is clear, useful, well-organized, informative, and just a little kookie at the edges!
Dial them up NOW!!!!!

Date: Tue, 01 Apr 1997 21:17:42 +0000
From: "Michael J. Agostino - MickeyJoe Productions"

You have a great theatre resource! I did a search on theatre related stuff and came across your site.

I just released the site for Baker's Plays today...and I figured you might want to know about it. Please check it out and feel free to comment as I am still doing minor edits. It's pretty fun...and funny...and will be very useful for book and script searches.

Anyway, just thought I'd send you a note to tell you Baker's is finally on the Web!
Michael Agostino
Baker's Webmaster

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide