New Year's Evolutions - Evan T Cummings


New Year’s resolutions have always struck me as a funny thing. The early days of a new year are a completely arbitrary time to assess your goals, behaviors, wishesand expectations. It’s winter. It’s cold. ….There’s too much good stuff on streaming to stay home and watch. 

This is the time you’re going to make sweeping declarations and major life shifts??
 It’s always seemed to me that small, deliberate adjustments and reassessments throughout the year, or even over a longer stretch, are the way to go. 
 As 2019 begins in earnest, The Private Theatre isn’t “resolving to….” do X, or “making major change” Y. But we are looking ahead towards the upcoming year – even our next few seasons – with excitement and anticipation. And it’s because we’ve been slowly building a better sense of ourselves as a company and have been gradually putting together productions, projects and initiatives that come from the ground up – from the foundation of who we are, or want to be.

In the recent few years, we’ve clarified our mission and added managing members to our fold. We’ve taken an honest look at where we’ve been – and we’ve collectively imagined where we hope to go. 

Our production that begins performances at HERE Arts Center in February, Rocco, Chelsea, Adriana, Sean, Claudia, Gianna, Alex is our first full production in New York in some time. It’s the result of development and incubation. It pulls from stories that first were shared in early workshops, in another era (even if that “era” was just a few years ago), but it also takes into account our present tumultuous time. 

As we further shape our programming, including future projects and education and development programs like The Shop, a few particulars have developed into the little goals we want to be part of the foundation of everything we do. They have to do with looking out: to the world around us, the stories and choices that shape our current moment, and the audiences that share in our work. And inward: to what’s important to us individually and as collaborators.

We’ve challenged ourselves to remain imaginatively committed to diversity, variety, inclusion in all the work we do. We aim to actively pursue artists for our productions and development that are reflective of the cultural, racial, geographic, and physical diversity of the world in which we live and create. And we want to take steps so that our audiences reflect that range too.

Our theatre won’t be alive, present, or important unless we continue reach out – to build and grow our community of artists and audience even more. Indeed, we have old friends and new to thank for reaching, then exceeding, our late-fall crowdfunding campaign goal. Still, we continue to ask: can we keep pushing ourselves towards a theatre that reflect a larger ‘us’?

 And then there’s the self-reflection. 

As I said above, I’m not one for declarative resolutions. 

I prefer questions and musings...

I wonder what colleagues I might meet in the next year that may become lifelong collaborators. And which ones in my life now might move on - to a new area of the country, or a new field.

I wonder what might change in the city where I live: Will my favorite bar or restaurant close? Will one or more of those last few theatre companies that are not wheelchair accessible find a way to provide access, or move to new spaces? Might a new record shop, or bookstore, actually open, or are they gone for good? And what will it say about me that I’m a theatre-maker in New York City and not Chicago, or Louisville, or London.

I ponder the ways that my friendships, or my relationship, might further connect me with something deeper in myself – push me to be a better artist. Will this be a year that is more transitional (readings and first drafts and further development) – or more foundational (a major fellowship or a production that makes waves)? What will change around me? And who are the people I choose to join me on the journey? 

No sweeping declarations or unattainable resolutions here.

I’d rather just let it all unfold.