By Leazah, Anita, and Rachel
Published January 2021
Rachel: Welcome to We Shadows, a podcast featuring event and performance technicians, designers, and production folks in Minnesota. Today we’re introducing our co-hosts, sharing a little bit about what the show is, and why it was created.
Leazah: My name is Leazah Behrens. I’m a co-host and co-creator, a set designer, and my pronouns are she/hers.
Anita: I’m Anita Kelling. I’m also co-host and co-creator, a local sound designer, and my pronouns are she/hers.
Rachel: And I’m Rachel Lantow, I’m co-host and co-creator number three, a production and stage manager, and my pronouns are she/hers. Thanks for listening in today. As we have shared, We Shadows is a collaborative creation between the three of us– largely sparked by Leazah’s idea, my interest in it as a vehicle for some of my passions and curiosities; and finally a mutual friend connected us with Anita, who also had sparking concepts of a Twin Cities podcast. Leazah, can you share with us what the show is?
Leazah: We talk to people who are normally in the shadows of the theater, performance, and events world. These are the artists and crafts-people who create the world that audiences see when they come into the space. They tend to be people who don’t want to be in the spotlight, but they have amazing stories and journeys that are a gift to be shared. We hope to shine a small spotlight on them so that we can learn more about all the amazing people who put together such wonderful work.
And the name of the project, We Shadows, was Anita’s thunderbolt of inspiration!
Anita: Our little inside theatre reference. Technicians, designers, stage managers, and artisans contribute so much to the theatre experience– in the dark of the theatre, outside of the lights, hidden behind the curtains. Our names are in your program, but we are rarely recognized on the street. This podcast is about the people behind the scenes that make the show happen.
Rachel: Anita, why did you want to create a show?
Anita: I had been kicking around a podcast about technical theatre for years. I wanted to create a resource for fledgling designers, technicians, and stage managers who are studying and preparing to join us. I also wanted to create a feeling of solidarity since we all have similar sentiments about our career field, but still somehow feel isolated. And I wanted everyone to understand how much talent, dedication, and art goes on behind the scenes. I wanted people to understand that we are an important and equal contributor to the production process, not failed or frustrated actors.
Rachel: Leazah, is there anything you want to add to that about your own whys?
Leazah: This is a project I wanted to do after having met some of the most wonderful people that work in the theater. And for my many conversations with people about how they got started and what things they love about what they do.
I’ve always felt Minnesota has an amazing art scene that is not really known by most of the world. It’s a wonderful hidden gem, but sometimes hidden gems need to be shared. The people who work in the Minnesota art scene come from many different backgrounds and have gotten to where they are from many different paths. There is no one right way to become a theater artist. Whatever your journey is, is just one story in the thousands of ways people join the ranks of these creative artists. So we are wanting to speak to those who tend to stay in the shadows so that others may see a little bit of the light that they bring to this world.
I’ve also noticed that there’s a lack of information out there for people to learn more about different areas of theater. And those few things are almost all from large cities that have a completely different way of working.
After having conversations with both Rachel and Anita, we found that our different ideas for a possible podcast actually worked well in one large podcast. We hope to be able to continue to look outside our own group of people to make sure that we shine a light on all those who have stories to tell. And hopefully this could open doors of communication to future artists who would like to work creating theatre.
Anita: Rachel, what about you?
Rachel: I’ve always been curious about the gateways– how do you get “in”– and the gatekeepers– the people who have the proverbial keys to the jobs, or to the social networks, or to whatever it is that gets you to the gigs in the performance industry. Something I’ve realized over the years, and that was made crystal clear to me this year particularly, is that we are all gatekeepers. Everyone who has those really great jobs has it because someone let them in. So as gatekeepers, when we hire out of our networks, because we like to hire people we already know, it’s really easy for us to be exclusive. And sometimes our networks become exclusive of diversity– and one day we realize we’ve enabled sexism or systemic racism. So I think it’s imperative for us to be consciously and intentionally letting people in.
So how do we let people in? I think it’s by opening up and getting to know other folks. And how do you do that? There’s a million different ways, but through a podcast, we can spotlight community members. Amplify and share stories. Demystify some of the exclusivity, the gateways, and gatekeepers, and clear the way for connections.
Also, if someone from outside the industry is interested in how shows are made, they get to hear about this whole other world of people and the work that happens behind the curtain. We get to uplift folks as artists and collaborators and show off their incredible talents. Minnesota has an amazing pool of folks that are not well known enough.
Anita: We Shadows first series will be featuring the Production Team! Each Wednesday we’ll host a different production industry professional in Minnesota. We hope you’ll tune in again for our first episode on Wednesday, January 27, 2021. Thanks to all for listening in today!
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