Our very own Sarah McPartland shares some wonderful news and insights about theatre this month:
My first play was in the third grade. I was cast in the leading role of “Winnie the Witch” in a Halloween production for my elementary school. I would tell you the title, but it’s only performed Off-Off-Off Broadway; very avant-garde theatre.
I would say that was the moment I knew theatre would be a big part of my life, but I would be lying to you, as well as myself. Growing up, I always wanted to keep up with my older sister, which meant that I was in all the Honors courses and strived for a GPA that was high enough to get me induction into the National Honor Society.
Induction into this elite organization required the completion of a certain number of community service hours, and since I was a kid who read a lot and spent my afternoons at the library, I had no idea where to begin when it came to finding a service project. At the time, our high school was putting up a production of “Cinderella,” and they were always looking for volunteers. I borrowed my sister’s Velcro billboard t-shirt, similar to the felt letter boards that can be found in any millennial’s home. My shirt read “CINDERELLA, TONIGHT ONLY” even though there were four performances total and this was opening night. For those of you that know me, this stunt was proof that I was a riot even at 13.
My assignment that night was to run flowers and candy to the dressing room before the show and during intermission. When I got my duties, I rolled my eyes, but knew that it would soon be over, and I would get my hours needed for membership.
Who knew that running flowers and candy to screaming high school kids would be the moment that it hit me? The locker rooms were filled with this raw energy and electricity that exists now only in my memory as I have witnessed no other atmosphere like it; so full of excitement and love for performing in mere minutes before a crowded house.
The next year, I auditioned for the spring musical, and my life has never been the same. I would spend the remainder of my formative years learning lines and taking down blocking and writing scripts and directing some amazing talent, but when I got out of school, I was lost like a tourist trying to navigate the New York subway system.
Here’s the part of the story where we fast-forward to 2013, a year out of college, a BA in Theatre Arts/English Literature, ready to take on the world. Through alumni connections, I had great opportunities to network and grow as an artist, really find my people in the Pittsburgh theatre community, but it was going to take a slew of long rehearsals and late nights and spilled coffees and broken computers and worn-down Chuck Taylors to get me to my goal of being an Artistic Director.
Through the next five years leading up to today, I would break three computers and wear down roughly 10 pairs of Chucks and spill coffee and lose sleep and cry and laugh in hindsight of the tears, looking back to see that I made some great theatre over the years with some ridiculously bright and talented artists. I directed my first show out of college, which was a new work [my favorite] that received glowing reviews. I observed those around me to see what true leadership is and how that just strengthens the bond between friends. I took mental notes of what I should keep doing every day I have air in my lungs and what I should block out so hard that I create a new narrative seen through rose-colored glasses.
I grew as an artist, yes, but I also grew as a human. My goal as Artistic Director of Throughline Theatre Company is to work with artists that are looking for their way into the scene, looking for their opportunity to showcase their talent. I want to work with artists who are simply looking for their people.
I will create those opportunities for those whose voices are left unheard because I’ve been where they stand. I know what it feels like to be at the starting line never knowing if the finish line exists, let alone if you make it there at all.
Many moons ago, Throughline Theatre gave this scared 22-year-old a chance to bring her thoughts to the table, and once she started talking, my fellow company members can attest that it has been a struggle to make her stop.
My job as Artistic Director is to carry out the mission statement of our company while providing equal opportunities to artists in the Pittsburgh theatre community, and this letter is my promissory note to do just that.
I have plans for the future of Throughline, and I cannot wait to share them all with you!
See you at the theatre.