by Jim Martin, WTC Black Box Facilities Director
Twenty-two years ago, I remember having a conversation with my mom. We were oddly enough in a Little Caesar’s Pizza waiting for our dinner. I told my mom it was my dream to have a theatre company of my own. How hard could it be? I explained. All we would really need is a space not too much bigger than this pace (I motioned to the pizza parlor where we were sitting), some lights, and some enthusiastic actors (of which I considered myself one).
I don’t know why it was important for me to start a theatre company. Artistic freedom? More opportunities to act? Becoming rich and famous?
Shortly after this conversation with my mom, I had convinced several of my friends to join my venture. They enthusiastically joined in and we produced our first project at Westminster College in the fall of 1997.
Through the years, I have seen a lot of theatre companies come and go. The one thing that can be said about our company, Wasatch, is that it has endured.
Tonight, I attended an event held by a new theatre group in town, De-Caf Acting Company with The Improv Police. I am thrilled with the energy coming from this group. It reminds me of the enthusiasm that I once brought into my own theatre company project.
One of the best places to see new works being done by some new groups is at the Great Salt Fringe Festival. Tickets for this year’s fest go on sale tomorrow, and the company that I once dreamed of is hosting several other groups in our Black Box Theatre at the Gateway. Some of these groups are new to the Fringe while others are returning. Some of the producing companies only show up during Fringe season, which is one of the great reasons that Fringe exists.
The point of this blog is to point out that the future of Salt Lake theatre is in very good hands. I love the enthusiasm. I love that these folks have enough of a vision for theatre that they feel the need to start their own theatre companies. More power to them. I hope I can help.
I have been wondering of late what footprint Wasatch Theatre Company, or perhaps more specifically the WTC Black Box (where we perform at the Gateway), will leave in Salt Lake’s theatre ecosystem. In a crowded field of theatre companies, how does one stay relevant 22 years later?
I am thrilled with the opportunity that having our own space has afforded us. It has given us a sort of freedom to experiment—to sometimes get it right and to sometimes get it wrong. Maybe this is the primary reasons I wanted my own theatre company in the beginning.
The WTC Black Box is finding its own way with its own partners. It is Wasatch Theatre Company’s vision to see this space take on a life of its own and to operate parallel to but separate from its founding theatre company. This decision, if successful, will give us the opportunity to incubate the kind of talent that is emerging at the Fringe and throughout Salt Lake—people just like a young 21-year old me who have dreams of creating their own theatre footprints.
Life is full of legacies. Sometimes our legacies are only felt by one other person, or a small group of people. What will the legacy of a space like the WTC Black Box be? I am hoping that it proves to be a way for local artists, perhaps some who are just finding their voices in Salt Lake’s theatre ecosystem, to take flight and persist f22 years and beyond.