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.