Where the road takes you . . . or why I LOVE working for a musical

Planet Eden Rocks!

Being a freelance journalist has gotten more competitive and is earning less money for all of us than it once did. It’s no secret that we’re all having to face some tough choices about what our futures hold. One choice I’m happy I made was to diversify the types of writing I do and who I do it for.

In addition, to print work for magazines and newspapers and the blogging that I do, I’ve added web content and PR to my grab bag. In doing so, I found that my web clients also needed the content I provide optimized for search engines.  I decided to go to PSU and get certified in SEO— not because I wanted to change careers to SEO or web administration but  so I could remain competitive among my writing peers and offer the best possible content to my clients. This aside has now turned into a specialized service I offer, one that is now garnering me a pretty nice word of mouth clientele.

Surprisingly, I find helping small businesses or artists (photographers, filmmakers, playwrights and musicians) survive (in what has been a pretty tough economic climate) extremely rewarding. My writing (and new found expertise) are making a difference in the world and that feels good.

But what feels even better is the publicity end of things. Having worked as a local journalist, I am already familiar with editors, outlets and the styles of these outlets. I also know, having pitched to them, what these outlets and editors like to see in a story, this helps me to cultivate press releases that will get my clients noticed.

In addition, I  have chosen to work almost exclusively (with regards to PR) in the arts. Working to support other art forms (and other writers, as well) has always been important to me and as I loathe salesmanship in most all things, the only place I can feel comfortable turning it on is for those things I REALLY believe in — like the arts.

One of these such clients, is a new musical called Planet Eden, co-written by local film producer Aaron Kirk Douglas and Harvard Graduate and PCPA musical director, Kurt Crowley. I have been working with Planet Eden for over five months now and in that time I have found it to be unlike any other experience I’ve had thus far. It is invigorating to watch two such passionate people work so tirelessly to bring something out of their heads and onto the page and then breathe life into it onstage. To say it is a privilege to work for this production is quite an understatement.

Aaron hired me for publicity and logistics, that is to say, scout locations, help with production and marketing and to create and implement a publicity plan for the play’s release in January 2011. But I have been treated to so much more. I am allowed and encouraged to give my feedback on all aspects of production and to sit in on creative meetings, auditions and readings. This kind of collaborative spirit is almost unheard of in such an ego-fueled industry.

Last month, we held auditions for five hours over at Classic Pianos of Portland and just hearing the tunes (this all original score has been composed by Crowley with Douglas penning the lyrics) come to life through the voices of all of the talented actors we saw that night was such a treat. But by the end of the night, after hearing a script that I’ve watched emerge stronger and stronger through the re-write process and scenes that I’ve lived with for months now burst to life some even funnier than I imagined and others funny, touching or quirky where I had no idea it lived, I  was humming with excitment. Truly these actors brought a lot to the piece and to their individual craft  and so did our new Director, Bruce Hostetler.

Because of Hostetler, the audition process was more lively and bonding than any I have witnessed prior and his energy and affability served to put our actors at ease. In fact the positivity and enthusiasm that is expressed everyday by this team, hand-picked by Douglas, seems to have an effect on everyone that comes in contact with the production.  Auditions were no exception, we all ended the evening singing along around the piano together to one of the more meaningful tunes from the play. It left us all of us feeling uplifted, and a part of something special.

This more than anything is what I want from the work I do — to be of service, to make connections and to believe in what I put out into the world.

I guess what I’m saying is, though the evolution of technology and the economic crisis has forced many of us to change or diversify the work we do and how we do it (and most definitely what we get paid for it), we can still decide to choose to work in arenas and take jobs that are in line with our overall value systems and that garner us the greatest fulfillment.

For me the answer is easy, contributing to something creative (and the fulfillment that brings) trumps the big bucks every time.

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