The Syndicate Blogs


Or, The Syndicate: We’re Working On It.
(With Thanks to Lee Breuer)
by Alanna Coby

Recently some people have asked me how I work. Well. Here’s how I do it these days.

I am working on a play. The play is called Tiny Errors at the End of the Millennium, and it is about a dancer obsessively working to correct the mistakes she makes while participating in a competitive dance show in 1999. It is also about the million small and human mistakes Western societies have made in the first 17 years of the 21st century that have landed us where we are today.

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What Is Our Work Worth?

“What Is Our Work Worth?”
by Ellenor Riley-Condit

When I ask myself questions about the monetary value of work in the theater, particularly as an actor, I tend to get kerfluffled really quickly. Sometimes it feels like artists who make physical objects may have a more streamlined process for figuring out their worth. Whether you’re a painter, a baker, a whittler, or an artisanal cat toy maker, if your art form results in a physical object, perhaps you can figure out slightly more easily how much that object should cost? Obviously that’s an extreme generalization on my part, but it feels like a grass-is-greener type of thought process: Maybe if I used my labor to paint paintings instead of make plays, I would be more clear about how much money my labor is worth. Questions of value feel more confusing (and even more dangerous for self-esteem) when I, the actor, am thinking about myself as the product.

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Story of A Body

“Story of A Body”
By Leigh Hendrix

My body and my voice are my tools and material as a performing artist. They are also what carry me through the world even when I’m not on stage, how I am seen and heard. There are a lot of expectations tied up in bodies – signs and signals we use to assess people and make judgements, organize people we encounter. A lot of these expectations are gendered, racialized, coded for class distinction, designed to tell us who has power and what kind and how they are allowed to wield it. Last month, Megan wrote about the body being hyper-visible in Suzuki training and the wonderful opportunity some of us had to be a part of Transformation through Training at Skidmore with SITI Company family and the Suzuki Company of Toga in May. I want to pick up that thread around personal relationship to Suzuki and Viewpoints training and making work in the world as a Queer person, moving through the world in the body of an artist.
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Show Me: Acts of Transfer, or that time I met the members of the Suzuki Company of Toga

“Show Me: Acts of Transfer, or that time I met the members of the Suzuki Company of Toga”
By Megan Hanley

This summer, after studying their work and training with SITI Company for the past 7 and a half years, I finally had the chance to meet the Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT).


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“Discover Love”

“Discover Love”
by Ellenor Riley-Condit

In September of 2009 I was spending time in my hometown of DC waiting to head back to college. My boyfriend at the time had an internship at one of my favorite theaters, giving me even more of a reason to hang around. I had just turned 20 and had a crazy summer traveling and working on plays. I may have been an emotional train wreck, but I had a renewed sense of purpose as a theater person. I felt I understood how to make plays and why. I was hopeful and energized, due in no small part to having close to zero responsibilities, living on my parents’ dime, and spending most of my evenings watching theater. An exhausting life of privilege, to be sure.

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Now What

“Now What”
by Alanna Coby

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence.” – Toni Morrison

On November 9th, 2016 I woke up feeling like I didn’t know how to act in the world any more. I was sucker-punched, gobsmacked, furious, devastated. I didn’t know how to get anything done. But grant application deadlines don’t disappear just because America is having a midlife crisis. So I sat down at my desk to write an artist statement.

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Movement Never Lies

“Movement Never Lies”
by Ellenor Riley-Condit

…in which I draw inspiration from an article written in a language I can not read.

My partner and I once joked about how I should introduce myself: “I’m a theater artist,” I said. And we went back and forth saying “theater artist” with different inflections and emphasis, seeing which pronunciation would make us giggle and roll our eyes the most. While I do say it out loud from time to time to just to make myself laugh, I also very seriously puzzle over what it means when I am about to answer one of those dreaded pleasantries brought up in a theater setting: “What do you do?” “What are you working on?” Here are just a few of the answers I have given in the past year:

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Theater as a Gift Economy

by Megan Hanley

Just over a month ago, The Syndicate performed CIVILITY! in a beautiful, sweltering theater in the middle of August. The AC and the light board couldn’t function simultaneously, so on opening night, our intrepid stage manager Sarah Stark cut the AC 10 minutes before curtain, while director Emily Spalding hid some bottles of water in the wings. We in the cast looked at each other with more than a little trepidation, took a few deep breaths, and walked together onto a stage that must have been 90 degrees at top of show.

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In the dark times will there also be singing?

Leigh performing How To Be A Lesbian in 10 Days or Less in Providence when she still had lost of long hair (2013).

by Leigh Hendrix

“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.” – Bertolt Brecht

On Sunday night, after waking up to the news that the largest mass shooting in (contemporary) American history happened at a queer bar on Latin Night in Orlando, I watched the Tony Awards from start to finish. Every musical number, intro, acceptance speech, and interstitial comedy bit. I haven’t done that in a long time – not because I don’t love a musical or find things to love about Broadway, but often the kind of theater that most excites me isn’t represented there. But in the face of shock and grief and anger and fear, I did the gayest things I could on Sunday: had a coffee with my ex, ate tofu hot dogs, drank rosé, and watched the Tony Awards.

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