An Artistic Home at Last, by Andrea Stolowitz
Something incredible happened shortly before Thanksgiving last year. I had just come back from the world premiere production of my new play in Berlin. I was suffering the usual post-show blues and jet lag to boot. I had thought it over in Berlin: I was done being the adjunct playwright and screenwriter all over the greater Portland, Oregon area. I yearned to turn my attention to my writing.
I shared my exciting new revelations with my partner who reminded me that we actually needed my salary (having kids is kinda more expensive than maybe I thought). I wished I had gotten that Mellon Playwrights-in-Residence grant that Artists Repertory Theatre and I had applied for two years ago. I bemoaned the fact that I wasn't a playwright in the ’90’s when people still made a living writing plays. I yearned for an arts patron like Eduardo Machado and Charles Mee had.
So, I googled arts patrons and found an article from the Financial Times called “Modern day patrons who set artists free” (https://www.ft.com/content/6dbe02b8-4cd5-11dc-a51d-0000779fd2ac). The article quoted an artist as saying to his future patron, “‘I told him I couldn’t succeed because every play I wrote put me farther behind in trying to feed my children’”. “Wow”, I thought. “That’s my problem, too.” But, as a woman, as a mother, could I dare say that to someone? I challenged myself to consider what I really wanted. I wanted a salary (just enough to live). I wanted to be able to devote time to writing. I wanted to be embedded in a theater. And, I wanted to have the opportunity for playwriting business travel (being in Oregon makes everywhere far and expensive to just “show up” if not paid for by someone else). I mulled, and thought, and stewed.
Just before Thanksgiving, I met with a well-known arts funder in Portland, Ronni Lacroute. I presented her with a one-page proposal for a five-year salary and playwright-in-residence partnership with my home theater Artists Repertory Theatre, who had already commissioned a new play from me. And the incredible thing…she said yes. She did not tell me that as a woman with kids who needed a salary that I should give up writing. She told me that she had seen my work over the years and that it was important and beautiful, and that she wanted to support it. I’ve never had anyone say that to me so clearly.
Fast forward to March 1 and I am now the Lacroute Playwright-in-Residence at Artists Repertory Theatre. Above is a picture of my office that I’m still working on. For the first time in my seventeen years as a professional playwright my office is not in my bedroom. I have an artistic home, at last.