Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Reflections from Artistic Director Peter Sullivan

Today, as we gather around a table with friends, with family, with loved ones, for a holiday on which we take stock of our lives and be thankful for what we have, I'm asked to consider: What am I thankful for? I’ll tell you, if you’ll allow me to drop my typical bohemian sentimentality for a moment.

I’m thankful we’re still here.

Peter Marston Sullivan directing the cast of Kiss of the Spider Woman

This may not come as “big news” to most, but it’s really hard to keep a Chicago storefront theatre company running. It’s hard to spend hours, days, weeks, months and even (really?!) years working to not only make it to the next show, but also ensure that the next show is as good as it can be. It’s hard to learn that just doing good theatre is not enough, or to ask company members and artists to give up so much of their time for little or no pay. It’s hard to get people to spend $20 and 2 hours to come see something you, your company and its artists are incredibly passionate about. It’s hard to not feel that some things - or all things - are your fault. It’s hard to wonder what shock or surprise will come next (though there is, at least, comfort in the knowledge that a shock or surprise will, in fact, be coming soon). For me, personally, sometimes it’s hard not to simply walk away, throw in the towel, or go grab one and get in some beach time... in Hawaii... with a drink. And yet...

I’m thankful we’re still here.

I know what you’re thinking: “So why do it?” I think many would share my answer: “We have to.” Whether it’s for self-fulfillment, or the hope that one individual life may be changed, be it an artist or audience: We have to. Because without these challenges, without these stories, without the process of putting something together as a cast - or a company - without those memories, those tears, that joy, the passion, what would be the point? We need to. I need to. And so...

I’m thankful we’re still here.

Peter Marston Sullivan talking with the cast of Pippin

And here we are, ending our 10th Season and celebrating our 10th year as a company. We’re planning a 10th Anniversary Bohemian Birthday Bash. It’s impossible not to look back on what my personal story is with BoHo. And I’ll tell you, it’s a complicated story, filled with a slew of twists and turns and chapters of sorrow and hilarity and joy. And you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The incredible memories I have of moments, of people, of shows. Of sitting in the audience, holding tight with a fellow traveler in hopes the lights and sound actually work. It’s been amazing. And because I wouldn’t mind a little more of it...

I’m thankful we’re still here.

So yes. Yes. I’m incredibly thankful to the myriad of astounding artists that have devoted their time and passion to this company. I am so grateful to the friends I have made these past years. I’m thankful to a company that continues to grow, change, adapt, learn and dream. I am thankful to our board, and those that have given donations and helped us make it to the next show. I’m so grateful to everyone that decided to spend that $20 and those 2 hours to see what our little storefront company can do. And you know what? I’m thankful it’s hard. Because those challenges have taught me more about myself than any simple journey could ever hope to.

I’m thankful we’re still here. And we're ready for what’s next.

-Peter Marston Sullivan
BoHo Theatre Artistic Director