York to Fort Worth, antsy 'Amphibians' are creating their own work.
Rachel Stowe Master '91
talent sometimes isn't enough in the theater world. You still need a script,
a stage and people who believe in you.
of TCU pals who believed in themselves joined forces in 2000 and launched
Amphibian Productions, an up-and-coming theater company that is offering
an exciting new season in both New York and Fort Worth.
'99, the company's human resource director, and fellow founders Kathleen
Anderson Milne '01 and Jamie Wollrab '99 began the company with a lot
of moxie and one simple desire -- to have an outlet to do what they love.
really wanted to create a company where we were allowed to do the things
we wanted to do as artists now, rather than have to wait until we'd gained
credits from regional companies," she said.
their beloved alma mater and a penchant for adapting, Amphibian Productions
now offers that outlet to some 30 members, 24 of whom are Frogs. A half-dozen
share ties to New Jersey's Rutgers University, where Lacivita and Wollrab
earned MFAs in acting.
the group will perform Shaun Prendergast's The True History of the
Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest
Woman in the World in both cities, while David Haig's The Good
Samaritan is slated for TCU's stage. Both are U.S. premieres, noted
Milne, the company's artistic director and resident playwright. The Amphibians
also plan a New York reading of Triptych, a new play by Joel Chace.
the group debuted in Fort Worth with Lanford Wilson's Burn This, along
with a staged reading of Milne's own La Llorona. The applause had barely
died down when -- "because of youth and not knowing any better,"
in Wollrab's words -- the Amphibians made plans for another play in Texas
and one in New York.
was just one of those deals that we couldn't let go," Milne said.
"It was too good. Not to say we were that good, but it was this energy."
the group brought Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain to Fort
Worth and took Milne's A Leopard Complains of Its Spots to New
York. Milne's play is about a 25-year-old man who still lives with his
parents. He wants to be a writer (but has no talent), and his parents
want him to get a "real job."
chose it because we wrote it," Milne said with a laugh. "And
because Jamie at this age is perfect for the lead. In New York if you
produce a play, it really needs to be a new work or an old work with a
new twist, or you get no interest. Here, regionally, it's just the opposite.
They want something that has done well in New York or that they've heard
said the company tries not to choose anything too conventional or commercial
but instead is challenging and fun for actors and designers. Which is
important, he said, "if you're going to try to entice someone to
come down and work for not very much."
has discovered that artistic vision and talent alone can't carry a company.
Money can be a real showstopper, and these theatre majors have been forced
to take crash courses in marketing and PR.
has come from family and friends, in-kind and corporate donations, ticket
sales and memberships. Now they're trying their hands at grant writing.
just received a grant from the Fort Worth Arts Council, which is nice
because it's like getting the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,"
And the universities
that nurtured them have been supportive.
faculties and departments of those schools have been very generous,"
Lacivita said. "Being one of the first theatre companies out of TCU,
we're looking to bring up the name of the theatre department at TCU. A
lot of talent comes out of that school and needs to be recognized."
the Amphibians have visions of expanding to a full season, acquiring their
own space and continuing to do work that makes people happy.
about being a group, a whole," Wollrab said. "We're all connected.
No one's more important than anyone else. We learned that at TCU. We learned
how to be an ensemble. We learned how to -- as much as we can -- keep
our egos in check and work as a group, and at the same time keep our leadership
about the company, go to www.amphibianproductions.com.
Stowe Master '91 and husband, Kevin '91 (MBA), live in an area of unincorporated
Tarrant County with their three sons.
comment on this article, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org