ArtsLink: A Vintage Business for a Vintage Community

By Jason Young on September 02, 2012 from A&E Blog via

I have never jumped out of an airplane before, but I bet I can describe to you exactly what it feels like.
As the plane is making its ascension into the clear blue, you have an overwhelming feeling in your bones of anticipation mixed with sheer terror, and with every passing second, one feeling gives way to the other in a battle to dominate your point of view on the action you are about to take.
Then, as you reach the cruising altitude and realize that you are truly committed to this adventure and that returning to the ground in any other manner than via a parachute that somebody else strapped to your back that you are praying will actually open is your only option, you start to plan, but never for the best. The best outcome requires no plan: you land on your feet like some action hero from a Hasbro Toys movie, and then you start jumping up and down because you have no injuries and more importantly no urine stains. No, you start to plan for the worse, for what happens if something goes wrong.
Suddenly, there is a significant shift in your inertia as the plane seems to no longer be moving, but rather hovering, standing still, waiting. It has carried you as far as it can. The next move is yours. The doors open, and a violent rush of wind and noise fill your senses. Everything in your body tightens.
You approach the door, take a deep second-guessing-thought-filled breath, close your eyes, and jump.
Now, I don’t know what happens after that because I am still in free fall, at least for one more week.
On, Monday, September 10, 2012, the biggest dream I have ever had, to own and operate my own theatre company, becomes a reality. It is when The Vintage Theatre Company, LLC opens its studio doors at 137 State Street here in Bridgeport to the first class at the VTC Academy.
I do not know how long I have been in the plane. I know it dates back to my college days, when I realized that people who grew up in different areas of the state, and especially the country, than I did had a much more elaborate upbringing in terms of their arts and culture saturation.
I am in no way trying to be critical of my home or my childhood. The fault lies mainly with me. Had I not come to my love of the theatre at such a late stage of adolescence, then I would have spent less time in athletics and more time in the arts growing up. But, I didn’t, and so in my early encounters at the collegiate level, I was behind the 8-ball.
Then, I started working at various theatres around the state, and started realizing that the overwhelming majority of talent, both on-stage and off, was being imported from other places, different states, and bigger cities, and even though we were performing for a company located in my own backyard, that bared my state’s name, I was a minority in terms of heritage. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t totally figured out why that bothered me so much, but it did, terribly, and one day when I finally admit that I need therapy, hopefully my shrink can help me out with this question.
Finally, in the spring of 2009, when I returned to Bridgeport and started working with the high school theatre program, a job that has been a dream, but certainly was not a serious part of any original plans that I may have had, the clouds of frustration of the previous eight years began to break into sunlit rays of inspiration.
I was having a conversation with a graduating senior towards the end of the Guys & Dolls process my first season back at BHS Theatre. I was encouraging her to think about studying theatre in college. I thought she had some serious talent, and with the right training, enough thick skin, and self-promotion, she could have a happy life in the arts. She smirked at me and said, “So, I go to college, study theatre, and then become a high school director like you?”
I know she wasn’t trying to be insulting, but I was insulted, inwardly much more than outwardly. It was a life-changing moment for me. I began putting thoughts on paper. I began talking out loud about my dreams and aspirations. I began making as many friends as I could that shared my passion and purpose, and parting ways with people who pulled me away from it.  I made myself a student again; of all the things I thought I would need to know to turn my dream into a reality.
Then, with several gentle nudges from people very close to me, the time arrived this year for me to stop dreaming and start doing. So, being inspired, excited, and paralyzed with fear all at the exact same time, I jumped.
In acting we talk a lot about motivation. Sanford Meisner believed that acting was doing. Characters are always doing something, and the question behind the doing is why. Coincidently, this is the technique I am trained in and what we will be using at the VTC Academy. See, the why is motivation, and motivation leads into things we call objectives, which are the goals of the character, which finally get us to the action that Mesiner was obsessed with, something most acting teachers call tactics. What are you going to do to get you what you want?
I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a rehearsal, class, or workshop and have heard the phrase, “What do you want?”
The answer for me is easy, but not simple.
I want to show my community things that I have seen in other places, things that I love, and things that I think they will love.  I want to share with them the power of passionate, creative, and simplistic storytelling. I want to expose children to the magic of live performance. I want to help train those who want to be taught. I want to entertain.
But, most of all, I want to land on my feet with no pee on my pants, and be able to celebrate without having to tell anyone I am sorry for trying.
I chose the name Vintage, because it means “the best of a certain kind.” I think Bridgeport is a vintage community, and I hope it will help to continue to support my dreams, as it always has in the past.

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