This is the second in a series of blog posts by our 2015 Emerging Artists, Intiman’s summer training intensive for a diverse cohort of up-and-coming theatre artists.
Today’s post is written by Averil Kelkar, a BFA Acting student at New York University. As a gay actor of color, Averil takes pride in working with a company that is aligned with his desire to use theatre as a dialogue. Averil believes that art comes in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and perspectives.

Is the theatre really dead?

Simon and Garfunkel callously poised this question back in 1966 in one of my favorite songs, The Dangling Conversation. To qualify the argument, Simon writes that “we speak the things that matter with words that must be said”.  And this question must be answered.

In the spirit of many important questions, there’s not a “yes” or a “no”, “black,” “white,” or even “grey.” And I’m here to say that every single experience with the Intiman Emerging Artist Program boldly extinguishes this fear that lives within any theatre artist today. We extinguish this fear with our passion to create new, inventive work and breathe life into both the arts community and the Seattle community at large.

A redefinition of theatre artists is needed. Long gone are the days of “I’m ONLY an ….” Every person on Intiman’s team –emerging artist, apprentice, or staffer– explores multiple modes of theatre. Andrew Russell, Producing Artistic Director, has a strong and active creative life as a director of theatre and has also branched out into playwriting for John Baxter is a Switch Hitter. Jennifer Zeyl signed on board as Associate Set Designer while also leaping on as Producing Manager. These are merely two of the endless examples at Intiman. The creative and the business sides of theatre have become synonymous, as, I dare say, it should be.

We will not allow men in suits to control the artistic integrity of our work anymore. Intiman is a community of artists from all backgrounds who find theatre to be an immediate and essential discourse for the community, and continue to breathe and direct that life and passion in their work.

The Intiman Emerging Artist Program (IEAP) stresses the importance of the Seattle artistic community as a whole. The program integrates a series of directors, writers, and actors from all backgrounds. This collaborative approach makes for a rich and process-oriented rehearsal environment. Working with dramaturg-turned-playwright Anthea Carns, and dance-inspired-performance-director Alice Gosti, means the approach to the text is always new, scary and inventive. That is within the program alone.

IEAP also explores the interconnected network of performance-based companies within the Seattle community. In the first two weeks, IEAP has opened doors to Washington Ensemble Theatre (W.E.T.), Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB), and the out-of-town based company, The Williams Project. These three companies speak to the ways that the Intiman is changing engagement within the performance community. W.E.T. is an established part of the Seattle Theatre scene, while PNB practices a completely different medium with their acclaimed dance productions and support of up-and-coming companies expressly using performers from around the country.

Intiman is connecting their artists to  Seattle’s theatre scene — asking its artists to branch out and explore different types of performance as well as interconnecting their artists (and subsequently Seattle) to be a part of a dialogue larger than our beloved city.

In redefining the way theatre navigates the community, The Intiman renders Simon’s question irrelevant. Instead, Intiman operates as a community of artists who happen to perform text based stories. We call this theatre. This is not ‘the theater.’ ‘The Theatre’ being the institutional culture that exists for art’s sake. This is our theatre, our theater here in Seattle, and here now in 2015. Intiman is asking Seattle to answer essential questions about what it means to be a Seattleite, an artist, a citizen and person. As Intiman has already told you, the hunt is on – and  Intiman is ready to strike. And I am proud to strike along with it


Photo Credit: Pamela M. Campi Photography