Treehouse Shakers

Treehouse Shakers
Hatched, BAM Fisher, Hillman Studio

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ode to the Early Days


Mara & Emily in the beginning years of THS; Outside of Kissing Rock
 I am noticing a lot of changes in NYC since we started the company in 1997. Alphabet City has been gentrified. Park Slope is more expensive to live than the Upper West Side. We moved to Hell's Kitchen to afford the rent, to be close to auditions, to live among the Broadway marquees. It wasn't glamorous. We lived between gangs of rats, prostitutes, and the occasional junkie. I found myself spending the majority of my time in the Lower East Side, performing on the stages of  theaters made out of storefronts. It was the era of The brand new Fringe, of Aaron Beall (*the founding father of the off-off Broadway scene), of fighting for the artists' way of life. The ghosts of the Yiddish Theater, of Bohemia, haunting the streets. Companies battled like bands. Actors seemed edgier, jacks of all trades, as they performed to sold-out houses at midnight shows. There was competition, accusations, high drama. It was no money, character strengthening, friendships forming. And then it ended, or most of it, or some of it. It changed slowly at first and then with speed. The LES is no longer the haunts I haunted, but high rises built upon high rises, built up. Gone are the tenements, the Noyoricans, the storefront theaters. The actors' stories beneath the glitzy new restaurants, suffocated beneath the pavement.
THS' Flying Through Rainbows (our first show for YA) 1999 Premiere 
Treehouse Shakers' Dancers 1999; Flying Through Rainbows
Katrina Hawley Emily Bunning, Lara Hayes-Giles, Marya Whethers
Treehouse Shakers had our first piece for young audiences rise out of that era. It has been a long time since those theaters held me, rocked me in its idealistic cradle. I took that dream, that collective dream, and pushed forward with our Treehouse Shakers' dream. I look at all of the hard work, all of the pain, all of the efforts that have made this company, and I will not let them go. We have come so far; twelve shows created, five shows touring, twelve fantastic company members, eight incredible board members, and countless donors and supporters who have held our dreams as their own.

I am always gnawing at the chance of making it better, even upon reflection of how far we have come. Of elevating this subway car, riding into daylight, and embracing the NYC landscape where our dreams can expand once more.