EDITOR'S NOTE: This edition of Square One is by Joe Messina.
Dallas — Welcome Home.
Directing the musical Blood Brothers, a show about family and where you belong in the world, is destined to bring out several emotions. Sure, a show is specific in its location and time. But you cannot help but project the universal themes onto your own life and begin to reflect how you got to where you are…
It was October when this thought struck me. When we started IMPRINT, it was a dream. Now it wasn’t only a reality—it was finishing its first full season.
One. Full. Season.
The gravity of it was not lost on me. The foundation that started with small meetings between Ashley, Jessie and I and that rose higher with each addition to our IMPRINT family was finally reaching its apex. I know this sounds a bit over dramatic, but it really was that important. There were many doubts on if we could do one show...let alone four, plus a festival, among other special events. Yet, here we were. The final show and I got to direct it.
I moved from Chicago in 2010 to Dallas with my family. It wasn’t until 2013 that I decided to audition for my first show. I didn’t know anyone. I had spent the better part of my adult life directing and acting in Chicago and got to know so many wonderful people over the years. But now, I was the stranger. My first show in Dallas introduced me to Ashley H. White. A friendship was formed. A friendship that would evolve into an artistic partnership, and alongside Jessie Wallace, Stephanie Felton, Benjamin Bratcher, and Billy Betsill, a professional theatre company.
Fast forward to October 2018, and there I was, about to direct one of my dream shows, and it was closing our first season. We did it.
I am not afraid to admit how nervous I was to bring this show to everyone. After the year we’d had, and buildup of my own anticipation, I put pressure on myself that was probably not needed. I somehow felt like a new guy. I leaned on Ashley and our team a lot during this time.
Luckily I had that team of great people next to me.
I think back to our early conversations about IMPRINT a lot. Sitting around a table on our laptops for hours, wondering what our first season would be. Wondering what would happen. As we admitted early on, it took a few years of planning before IMPRINT was right. Timing was key and we needed to solidify our team. I’m constantly grateful for the group we have—each of them so dedicated to this organization and vision.
Throughout the past year, our team grew from our main unit of six to a huge family. Through each of the shows, we met new wonderful people who would be become the incredible support team of IMPRINT. Our tribe.
Now, after closing our first season…I can say I no longer feel like a stranger to DFW theatre. It’s amazing and parallels to the growth of IMPRINT. I feel DFW Theatre has welcomed us as one of its own.
The strain and pressure we all feel when building our dreams cannot be conquered alone and the village we live in is there to help.
We talked a lot of the past several months about what we’ve learned this far in building a theatre company. Support was always the key. Whether we needed financial support, artistic support or even personal support, the combination of it all was the only way we reached this moment, looking at the horizon of our approaching second season. And that support for us, came in the form of a team and an incredible community ready to support us.
It’s hard to believe, but here we are. A company, a team, a family... a tribe.
As we wrote back in March about our first show, throughout tech week and through the closing of Glengarry, I had a habit of “annoying” Ashley with commenting on every moment, no matter how small, by saying it was “IMPRINT’s first this or first that…”
“It’s our first tech week!”
“It’s our first photo call!”
“It’s our first spilled bucket of paint!”
“It’s our first five-minute call!”
“It’s our first Opening Night!”
Now, it is over and I had one thing to say to Ashley as we closed the doors to the theatre after the strike of the Blood Brothers set.
“That was our first season.”
IMPRINT theatreworks second season starts in January 2019. I can’t wait to see where we go next.
» Before the second season, Imprint will revive its hit production of Lauren Gunderson's The Revolutionists, in a co-production with Brick Road Theatre, Dec. 7-16 at the Cox Building Playhouse in Plano. Click here for tickets.
PREVIOUSLY IN SQUARE ONE
- Septempber: Should We Start a Theater?
- October: Taking the Next Steps
- November: Planning the Season
- December: Finding the Right Space, Part 1