If you know me, you know that I’m scared of pretty much everything. I can’t watch horror movies. I’m afraid of the dark. Spiders are an absolute no. Raccoons have weird hands that give me spine tingles. It took me about 25 years to be able to walk across bridges without having a near meltdown. I have a sometimes debilitating fear of letting others down. Heights are obviously out of the question, and I can’t even look at taxidermy because I’m 100% positive it’s going to come to life and get me. (That one’s ridiculous, I know.)
Almost 9 years ago, I did a really scary (to me) thing: I sent an email to a group of wild, collaborative artists I didn’t know to ask if I could play. I was fresh out of college, jobless, living in my parents’ basement, and really just not sure what was going to happen next. (I’m a huge planning nerd with mountains of anxiety, so you can imagine this was a pretty scary place to be in.)
They said yes, and I thought, “oh, crap, now I have to actually do this scary thing.” Do you ever do that — a really scary thing that just leads to more scary things?
I was so nervous at the first rehearsal. They were all so smart, wildly talented, and seemingly fearless; it was intimidating.
However, it didn’t take long before I learned that they were also fiercely kind and compassionate. I’m honestly not sure if that made them more or less intimidating, but it did make me realize that I had found something I was looking for: a place to put my fears and my failures; to mess up and make mistakes. It was a place I could be loved and supported for my weird, creative, messy, vulnerable self. A home.
So, as I listened to Leslie, Peter, Annie, Anna, Amanda, Keith, Kalen, Gracie, and Kelly open up their hearts and their creative processes on Monday night at The Yellow Wallpaper & Other Things That Scare Us, I was transported back to that feeling of saying yes to a really scary thing that leads to even more scary things.
And, in a literal home filled with food and friends, we had the opportunity to live in the earliest drafts, the roughest ideas, and all the soft scary parts together.
That’s what’s so meaningful to me about being part of Umbrella Collective. It’s a place where we tell each other it’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to not have all the answers. We can sit together in the scary parts and ask questions. Audiences and artists can create collaborative worlds together through breath, time, music, and story.
All of this magic is possible because of our incredible community of artists and audiences. In case you haven’t heard, this month we launched the Umbrella Circle — our brand new any-amount monthly donors club.
We're so thrilled to welcome 36 new work lovers under our umbrella and into the Umbrella Circle.
Each of these awesome folks has committed to supporting the ongoing work of building new plays through compassionate collaboration, highlighting queer and womxn stories and storytellers, supporting artists through increasing pay towards $15 per hour, and inspiring conversation and connection in our community.
It’s sometimes a scary thing to ask for help, but we have been absolutely blown away by the support we’ve received during this campaign. This consistent support makes a huge impact on our ability to experiment, play, and plan with intention… so we can do even bigger, scarier things!
We’re wrapping up our official campaign, but there’s no wrong time to join the Circle. The work continues, and we want to do it better, bolder, and together with you. If you want to be part of this magical place where we say yes to scary things, head over to UmbrellaCo.org/UmbrellaCircle
From under the umbrella and the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
Umbrella Collective works hard. In the midst organizing house concerts, fundraising, and planning exciting things for the future, three of our longest standing Collective Members stopped to answer the question,
'What does being in a collective mean to you?'
Here are their replies:
Being in a collective means there is always someone there to hear me. There is always someone there who has the missing piece to an idea you're working on. There is always someone there to reassure you that your ideas are worthy of exploration. There is always someone there. Community is very important to me, and being part of a collective is being part of a community. Sharing ideas, skills, and creativity is central to that. Umbrella Collective is a place of generosity in this way. We are generous of ourselves, our time, and our creativity.
Lean in to what you love.
Umbrella Collective loves theatre. Devised, group-created, original theatre. We're endeavoring to lean in, to really commit ourselves, and to maintain a creative space. Our collective is investing in our future, our artistry, and our opportunities.
The changing of seasons is deeply entwined with food. The harvest is in, and a wealth of fresh produce is available for all. In the fall, I prepare and preserve food. I invest in my future - future Kathryn, whom in Winter will open a jar of homemade tomato sauce, preserved at the height of summer deliciousness. I will eat fermented kimchi made of just-picked ingredients from the farmers market. I will share homemade salsa at a gathering of friends. I spend a lot of time in this investment: buying, chopping, cooking, jarring, processing. And I know if I didn’t make the effort, I would be quite disappointed in my pantry. And I know if I lean in and commit, it will pay off.
Umbrella Collective is investing. Sweat equity, time, planning, grants, fundraising. Workshops, script development, unique venues, community gatherings. Our kind of theatre requires time, preparation, and investment. I want to continue to present stories that matter, to me and us and everyone. We believe it’s worth it, and we hope you do too. If we lean in, it’ll pay off.
I get to experience the other wild ways that other folks and artists create and see the world. Together, we are able to make work I could never dream of alone
Yet so often, we stick to old, time-worn methods of how to collaborate in theater. There are rigid edges, and strictly defined roles that separate playwrights, actors, directors, technicians, and crew. You're asked to choose a path, and stick with it.
As someone who calls herself a director, performer, actor, musician, and visual artist, I've always felt strange about that strict way of creating art. It just didn't make SENSE to me. I longed for a space where I could play in more expansive ways.
Being part of Umbrella Collective means that I can use all my multifaceted skills and thoughts and ideas. They're welcomed in the room. Better yet, I get to experience the other wild ways that other folks and artists create and see the world. Together, we are able to make work I could never dream of alone. Together, we shape new kinds of compassionate collaboration processes. And the end result is meaningful, embodied, collaborative works of theater, that is the result of the voices of EVERYONE in the room.
There are plenty of theater companies out there. I'm lucky to live in a place and community where theater and art are embraced and supported. But for me, being part of this collective has let me find a space where I can be fully myself, with all my rough edges and contradictions laid bare. And that's everything.
What does Umbrella Collective mean to you? Do you support collaborative, compassionate, risk-taking endeavors?
Now is the time to take the step and get under the umbrella. Consider becoming a member of the Umbrella Circle, our brand new monthly donors club! Click the button below for more information.