So, I am moving to Minneapolis after the new year.
The way life ebbs and flows makes for interesting stories.
If you had told 15-year-old Jared that someday he would be married, divorced, find sobriety, go to a school in the redwoods of Northern California for 9 months and study and make friends with students from all over the globe, move to Los Angeles, work with actors ranging from “struggling actors looking for their first break” to “Tony-nominated”, move to Portland, Oregon to further pursue the type of theatre that interests him, only to go not just broke, but broker than broke, what teenage Jared believe you? Probably not. And not just a little broke. Like, no longer having a bank account broke. Going back to my hometown of Grand Forks, North Dakota with nothing but the possessions I had originally packed into my car or had accumulated in that journey from Grand Forks, to Los Angeles, to Portland, and back.
With nothing but those possessions, I finally decided to do what had been on the edge of my mind ever since I left Dell’arte International: Start a theatre company. The idea occurred to me near the end of my time in Los Angeles, mostly because I found that while I had found a lovely tribe in Los Angeles of theatre makers, and was steadily working with playwrights and directors on projects, my creative life was dictated by their inspiration and schedule. Which is why I started creating a solo show. To have a project to make happen myself.
And when I returned to North Dakota, I decided if I was going to be back here, I would finally do it, I would start my own company. Conduit Theatre was born. I spent a few weeks writing feverishly about what I wanted Conduit to look like, feel like. What was my purpose? What was my passion? I can say, nearly two years later, the primary purpose has become evident: Connection. I use theatre to connect people. Whether it is between performers and audience, audience to audience, or even connecting folks in the community to other folks who may be able to help each other, there is a gift in that type of interaction. To see each other, to feel. To make new friends. To rekindle old friends. To be vulnerable, and have that vulnerability accepted. This was my purpose.
Once this had been done, and I began the work to create this, I immediately headed out and talked to the folks I knew in town. Some of the landscape of the town had changed immensely from when I left for Los Angeles. But as I talked to friends, and said, “here’s what I’m thinking”, they gave me the names of two or three people with whom I could discuss my plans. And I did. And they kept helping me, pointing me in directions. I’ve had some amazing supporters in my journey, too many to mention here. At one social event, I ran into someone I knew from years ago who I hadn’t kept up with. It just so happened he had studied entrepreneurship, and he had a large stack of books that I could borrow. So I did. And I began to learn about business, marketing, entrepreneurship. I suddenly began to understand a world I knew nothing about.
And I realized that I not only wanted to make art. I wanted to figure out how a theatre company, even a tiny one like myself, can make a profit. Was it possible? I looked to the theatre that made money: Broadway. National Touring companies. Cirque du Soleil. Combined, these three alone account for billions of dollars. So it was possible.
And from year 1 to year 2, I started to do that. I made a profit. And with that profit, I’m creating my second solo show, tentatively referred to as “The Mystery” right now. My first show I asked for financial support from folks, and this one I was able to fund, to this point, from the funds my theatre company generated by itself as a business.
I’m saying all this to illustrate a journey I’ve been on. Imagine this now: Two years ago I was broker than broke. Broke broke broke broke broke. Broke. And now I’m beginning to generate profit (not an income so much, yet) from my artistic work. I’ve paid off all debt unrelated to my student loans. I have an independent retirement account I’ve started. I have money in my bank accounts for emergencies. Travel. Things are going in the right direction.
But I’ve reached a crossroad. On one hand, I could stay here, in Grand Forks, doing what I’m doing. And I could probably keep a strong niche for myself. I could continue to act, create work, get the occasional gig here or there that pays decent regionally. And maybe, business will pick up between living statue or eccentric character gigs, maybe get hired to create some interesting interactive theatrical events like I have with the Young Professionals for their New Year’s Eve galas, and then book my work out in festivals and solo shots across the region, the country, maybe even the world. And that could be all right.
Or, I could move to a large urban area. Not Fargo large. But Minneapolis large. Chicago large. New York City large.
And in the last couple years, due to its proximity, I’ve fallen for Minneapolis a little bit. In the past year, whether it was visiting the Minnesota Fringe, meeting new fringe artists, reconnecting with old friends, seeing rock shows, exploring art galleries, exploring some of the neighborhoods… I like the town much than I used to.
The end of the summer, I performed in 9 to 5: The Musical, at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji, MN, where I met many other actors from the Twin Cities. Between my experiences getting to know Minneapolis, and the theatre scene, I have come to the conclusion: I want to take that leap to Minneapolis. For what I want to accomplish in my life both as a for-hire actor, and as a producer of theatrical entertainment, the potential for greater success exists in those urban areas. As a business, I’m not settling for “meh” success. I’m shooting for eventual “cirque” success.
I don’t have an exact date chosen yet. But it will be very early 2017. I have commitments here until the end of the year.
But I definitely want to say thank you to some of the folks that have really supported by success. Whether it was a grant to bring Box of Clowns to Grand Forks from the Community Foundation, an award from the Chamber of Commerce’s Shark Tank spinoff for my idea, or several individuals who latched on to my work and supported me financially, emotionally, or performed with me.
This journey keeps on going. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
If you live in Minneapolis, and you have any sublet situations or job opportunities coming up in January or February, I would appreciate a message.
Thanks all. And this was way too long.