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State of Wonder

Radio Documentary: A Day In The Life Of Artists Repertory Theatre's New ArtsHub


Shared workspace is all the rage with start-ups, artisans, and freelancers these days, but does it work for arts nonprofits? Artists Repertory Theatre is finding out. It has invited eight other theater-related organizations to cozy up in an experiment in cohabitation. They’re calling it the Artshub, and they’re hoping it might prove a model for future nonprofits.

On any given day, there’re plays opening, rehearsals rehearsing, scene shop saws buzzing, students singing, and pigeons making googly eyes.

We sent three producers to spend a day at the building exploring everything that was happening, from the first person in to the last person to turn out the lights, and this behind-the-scenes documentary is the result.

Check out the slide show and then a run down of the documentary below.

When you go to a play, what do you see? The lights, the props, the costumes? But have you ever thought about what it takes to make those few hours of theatrical beauty? We go behind-the-scenes at Artists Repertory Theatre to see what makes its new ArtsHub, an experiment in cohabitation with eight other theater-related nonprofits, tick.

  • Host April Baer introduces the ArtsHub — along with our ArtsHub drinking game.
  • 00:52 - Artists Rep artistic producer Shawn Lee is the first in most days. He circles the building looking for new graffiti and trash, and then heads in to deal with production notes from the previous evening’s opening preview of “The Invisible Hand.”
  • 3:09 - Production director Brent Sullivan takes April down to the scene shop, where they’re building the set for “The Price,” and then into the Alder Stage, where they’re hanging lights. (Apirl also stopped in to learn about making breakable vases and blood splatters with prop master Natalie Heikkinen. Hear it here.)
  • 6:22 - While machines fire in the belly of the building, producer Aaron Scott heads upstairs to the Artists Rep offices. Jerry Tischleder, the artistic director of the Risk/Reward Festival, plays air traffic control; pigeons soundtrack inner monologues; and managing director Sarah Horton squints and tries to figure out how to make it all work financially.
  • 8:40 - In the lobby, curators of the Geezer Gallery are hanging artwork. Production assistant Phoebe Flanigan asks what exactly make a geezer, before heading down to “The Dungeon” with Portland Revels in search of a dragon.
  • 11:20 - Host April Baer hangs out with Profile Theatre artistic director Adriana Baer (no relation). As the biggest tenant, Profile served as a lynchpin for the Artshub, putting on its shows between Artists Rep’s shows, filling both theaters year round. And now Adriana is finding new ways to cross-pollinate: she’s directing “The Price” for Artists Rep.
  • 14:12 - On the other side of the building, a group of teenagers are singing fearlessly at the musical theater conservatory Staged. Being in the building means they’re getting to see what it means to succeed in the theater.
  • 16:02 - We head to one of the final rehearsals for “The Invisible Hand,” which had its first preview the night before. The play is a tense economic thriller with a side of Stockholm bromance that has been four years in the making for director Allen Nause. Listen to his conversation on “Think Out Loud” with the Pulitzer-winning playwright, Ayad Akhtar, and lead actor Imran Sheikh.
  • 17:55 - As “The Invisible Hand” actors warm up for the show (for resident artist John San Nicholas, that means rapping in a Pakistani dialect), the audience starts to crowd into the lobby and file into the theater. Then after the show, the production assistants reset the stage, and the janitor starts his circuit to close down the building for the night.

The ArtsHub documentary appears as a segment in our episode with guest curator Damaso Rodriguez, Artists Rep’s artistic director, recorded before a live audience. Listen to the full episode here.

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