I first walked into the lobby of 1700 Sansom Street and took the elevators up to the eighth floor Azuka Theatre offices back in September, as part of my six-month Drexel co-op. Well, if you do the math, six months is up.
Today’s the last official day of that co-op, although next quarter I plan to still help out at the office in between classes on campus, and hopefully stay on as your dutiful blogmaster masterblogger! For now, however, I wanted to have a brief retrospective on my time here. I remember the first thing Mark, Azuka’s marketing director, said to me...
LUCAS: Hello, I am Lucas. Is this Azuka Theatre?
MARK: Hello, it is September.
LUCAS: That’s good. Mmhmm, looks like I will work here for the next six months.
MARK: What do you think you will remember slash take away from it looking back?
LUCAS: I really have no way of knowing. It’s only September, after all.
MARK: You can bet your bottom dollar it is.
It’s like it was yesterday. Despite this somewhat off putting first encounter, I was immediately engaged in the daily goings-on of a side of theatre I’d never witnessed before: administration. I’ve been on stage, I’ve been behind the stage -- but I’ve never really known what makes a professional theatre company tick. Marketing, grantmaking, box office management...tasks that years ago I may have ignored but which in the context of the vaster machinations of a creative and artistic enterprise are now incredibly fascinating to me. Sorry, that made it sound super corporate.
It’s not corporate. Not at all. In fact, probably the most rewarding, memorable, and meaningful thing I’ll take away from this experience is that this isn’t really a company as much as it is a tight-knit group of dedicated, artistically-minded creators invested in making wholly unique stories and voices heard on a public stage. I was so warmly welcomed into “the Azuka Family” from day one, and learned quickly that it earned that title. I was supported, appreciated, encouraged, and so warmly welcomed into “the Azuka Family” from day one, and learned quickly that it earned that title. I was supported --
If it seems like I'm doing stupid bits to avoid being too sentimental, that's because I am. It's difficult to express true genuine gratitude in a blog post that has to be, 1. devoid of facial expressions and body language and other indicators that I actually mean what I'm saying, and 2. organized in a way that is at least somewhat comprehensible and not just a frenzied stream of grateful consciousness. But the truth is, I am inexpressibly indebted to this place and sincerely look forward to continuing my work here. I have come to admire the stories Azuka tells and the philosophy of arts accessibility they pioneer to make sure those stories get heard. I have come to admire the world of non-profit theater in a world where I am often cynical about the corporatization of basic human rights and passions, like art and culture. But most of all, I have come to admire the people that make it all happen. And the fact that they grudgingly agreed to Applebee's for my farewell dinner. And only slightly insulted me for getting the chicken tenders platter.
My apologizes to Kevin, who wanted no published proof that he entered this establishment.
For those of you who don't know, I had a kind of rough few months between November and January where I was going through some very dark personal stuff, to be as descriptive as possible. Basically, it was a situation that I thought would threaten my stay at Azuka. Instead, after working up the courage to be honest with my coworkers, I was greeted with support I would have never expected. It was a rare and special thing, and that kindness echoed through the remainder of my co-op, as it does to this very minute. What can I say? Theatre people are great! Non-profits are great! Philly is great! Azuka is great!
Take some time to look back and be thankful.
THANK YOU! I'll be back,