Home and Art

July 26, 2014 / by Melissa Crespo, Hangar Directing Fellow


It's my last week at the Hangar and I've been thinking a lot about the meaning of artistic residencies. What does it mean to make a home out of your art? And must this exist outside of your everyday home? This summer, I have been able to eat, sleep and breathe theatre along with other artists for the past nine weeks. I have never been so inspired and creatively productive outside of grad school. I have had the time, space, resources and collaborators to explore, study and create. While I manage to pursue my directing career in my "normal" everyday life, I must admit that it can be exhausting. While it can be challenging to find the resources to make theatre, sometimes it's just plain hard to find the energy amidst a full time job, friends, family and surviving the city to remember why in the world I want to make theatre in the first place. But of course, I do it because I have to. It's all I've ever wanted to do. 

My time at the Hangar has allowed me to shut out the world so that I can examine it--every artist needs this at some point in their lives. We give so much of ourselves to our art, how can we confront it amidst the chaos of everyday life? As I am about to leave the haven that is Ithaca and the Hangar, I wonder: How I can make everyday an artistic residency? 

My first thought is this requires time, which usually costs money. I personally can't afford to not work a day job so there goes my time to create on a daily basis. And through the efforts of the Drama League and the Hangar Theatre, I was given the money so that I could afford the time to pursue theatre in the most focused way I have ever experienced. It also takes community. I do theatre because I get to create art with others and then I get to share it with others. The Hangar is special because not only does it produce professional productions, it fosters professional development and is committed to education. This summer not only did the Hangar welcome four Drama League Directors but also 17 Lab Actors, 2 Assistant Directors, 4 Design Fellows and 20 Apprentices and Interns ranging from technical, design, and stage management--and this doesn't include the production staff. And while the Drama League Directors were teaching classes and directing 2 shows plus a studio project, the rest of the staff was busy teching and designing eleven shows. Eleven shows! It's simply tremendous. In order to become a professional, it takes practical, hands-on experience. Artistic Director Jen Waldman started calling the Hangar the "Grey's Anatomy" of theatre and she's exactly right. Everyone was thrown into the fire to learn and grow. And when you have that many young professionals living and working together, life-long collaborations begin to form. Not only did I make colleagues out of the directors and actors, but I also found choreographers, designers and technicians that I know I will work with in the future. My experience would not have been as rich had it not been for all of the people also having the time and space to create right along with me.

I don't know when the next time will be where I have nine weeks to only do theatre again. But, what if artistic residencies were like time-shares? You must dedicate a certain amount of time and money every year specifically toward the time and space to create. Of course you could be lying on a beach in Cancun--which can also be very artistically satisfying--and after my intense summer at the Hangar that sounds like exactly what I need right now. But honestly? I'd rather be working at the Hangar :)


Pictured above: The Cast & Company of BUNNICULA

Pictured above: Directors and members of the Lab Company