Sunday, July 12, 2015
New York City, Here We Come!
Yesterday, most of Team Expedition was awake at the crack of dawn -- looking up directions to JFK Airport, making last-minute Trader Joe's trips to pick up snacks for orientation, or trying to jam that one last pair of high-heel shoes into their suitcase for opening night. (This is the last one! Promise!) As we watched the sun go up over the rooftops of Brooklyn, we held our breaths for one of the most exciting -- and most hectic -- days of the year:
Student Arrival Day.
One-by-one, students arrived at the airport and were greeted by NTSA staff members. After talking to them for months via Skype, it was so incredible to finally meet all of these extraordinary artists in-person. In fact, as we ate doughnuts off of a rustic tree slice at Dun-Well Doughnuts, Tara Smith showed me the cover of the arts section of her hometown newspaper. On the cover? A giant photograph of her onstage with the headline "READY FOR HER CLOSE-UP: New Albany Grad receives national theater opportunity." While Tara has become front-page news, she says in the article: "I feel so lucky to be given this opportunity, for it to be paid for and to be in New York. I never imagined myself going to New York. It seemed way far away . . . Sometimes I just think about it and go ‘Oh my God, this is happening.’”
Sitting with Tara yesterday, nibbling on a maple sugar doughnut, I can confirm that, yes, this is actually happening.
Today, I had the privilege of sitting in on the first read-through (or at least part of the first read-through -- we had to rustle up five gallons of paint today from Loews for some scenic construction!). Being the Executive Director, I'm great at managing a budget spreadsheet, but I'm not what you'd call an artistic mastermind. When I first read Rae Binstock's Expedition, my initial thought was: "I really like the relationship between Jack and Tom . . . but what's the deal with the Lewis and Clark scenes?" A trip back in time with language that can only be described as "poetic," I had no idea how those scenes would be staged or designed or performed. So you can imagine my surprise when I was watching Tara perform her first Sky Woman monologue, where she talks about how curiosity led her to fall from the clouds, and I actually started getting a little emotional. (I definitely did not cry in rehearsal. Nope. Never.)
(Why don't you believe me?)
Maybe it's because, just the day before, the NTSA staff had watched our team "fall from the clouds" and settle into the brand new world that had spread out before them. Maybe it's because, just like Sky Woman, these students have taken so many risks to get here -- training throughout high school, performing in community theaters, filming an audition video and uploading it onto NTSA's applications website. Most likely, it's just because Tara Smith is a damn good actress.
Whatever the case, these next two weeks are certain to be a life-changing expedition for everyone traveling this path. Make sure to join our mailing list (just fill in the little box at the top of the screen) and follow us on Instagram @ntsatheatre. And get your tickets to Expedition today! Performances are filling up fast!