(Photo of “Warrier’s Duet”. The following post is part of a series highlighting and celebrating the theatres and theatre people of San Diego as part of the 2014 TCG National Conference in San Diego. Email Gus Schulenburg if you’d like to participate.)
As an Artistic Director of a new start-up 501(c)3 Theatre Company in San Diego, I am overjoyed that the TCG conference will be coming to our beautiful town to shed light on all of the new developments in the Theatre world. My name is Katherine Harroff, and my Community-Based Theatre Company Circle Circle dot dot is about to embark on our third season, and while it has been a wonderful ride into existence; we are always willing and ready to learn how to better ourselves. It’s incredibly difficult, if not close to impossible, to successfully maintain a financially stable arts organization these days. Duh. It’s pretty painful to recognize how Theatre in general is becoming such a non-essential in budgets throughout the US, but as one artist to likely another, I’m sure you know that this won’t stop a passionate theatre-maker from trying. We do this because we have to. We make art because it is simply the only thing we can do, so thank you TCG for making San Diego your destination. I am ready for all of the wisdom you can impart onto my world.
That’s not to say that San Diego hasn’t already been a wonderful community to create and learn in. Since CCdd opened its first Community-Based production in 2011, we have received incredible support from many arts organizations, theatre companies, and of course patrons in town. Our first production featured borrowed technical equipment, and many local artists that volunteered their time to help us build our dream.
(Photo from “Street. Art. Prophets.”)
Circle Circle dot dot uses true stories from our community as inspiration for original productions. This means that every play in our season is a world premiere, and reveals knowledge about a unique voice and perspective from a vast variety of individuals. Our pieces have ranged from kick-ass Roller Derby Women, to socially-uncomfortable Live-Action Role-Players, to Drag Queens, to Street Artists, and much more. If you haven’t encountered much Community-Based Theatre in your world- this is the point: to bridge gaps between the populace in order to help encourage acceptance, empathy, enlightenment, and inspiration. It’s a novel idea; that Theatre can make this impact- but we’ve already seen it happen after every production we’ve created. So now…we’re addicted. This grand experiment has become a dream that we are working to build and live in every single day.
The risks are big. New Works can be plagiarized, funding is limited, time is scarce- but we’re learning. And after 2 years, 6 original productions, limitless fundraisers (come to MORP 2013: A Dead Man’s Party!), and a whole lot of head-butting amongst artists, we know this community wants us here. We know we have the support of our fellow theatre-makers in town, and our hopes continue to rise with every stride forward we make.
(Photo: The company of Circle Circle dot dot.)
I believe it’s people like me and my scrappy little company that will get the most from the TCG conference. And to boot, San Diego is a passionate city full of amazingly talented and supportive art-makers just like us that want to learn, grow, and thrive. The future of this struggling art form is unclear- but one thing’s for sure, no driven artist in San Diego is going to stop anytime soon.
We welcome TCG with open arms, and we look forward to the amazing impact it will have on our community for years to come.
Is it Summer yet?
Katherine Harroff is the Artistic Director and Head Playwright of local Community-Based Theatre Company Circle Circle dot dot. Recent directing credits with CCdd include: The Warriors’ Duet, DerbyWise, Street. Art. Prophets., Deconstruction of a Drag Queen, and The Break-Up/Break-Down. Katherine is the Head Community Teaching Artist for The Old Globe’s Community Voices project for whom she has helped underserved adults in San Diego develop Playwriting skills. She was recently honored as one of San Diego Magazine’s “50 People to Watch” in 2013. For more information about Circle Circle dot dot, please visit circle2dot2.com.