So I’ve been a bit underground for a little while. There have been a fairly big combination of things causing that, but now I am up for air enough to explain some things.
You may or may not have heard, or you may have just assumed, but The Think Tank is now closed. But I can’t just say that and not explain it at all (well I could, but that would be kind of a dickish move), so here goes. Here’s some background on what happened.
October ended and “Alive” came to a close. It was an exhausting process, to say the least. Shortly before that, my good friend (and founding partner) April said that it was time for her to move on. I completely understood and supported the decision, though it was very sad to see her go.
With April leaving, it was apparent that more people were needed in order to make the whole thing work. So a couple ads were put up and a couple of very capable guys were brought into the operation (I should note here that I don’t blame these two guys for anything that came after. Just to clarify.) With a group back together, planning began for the next season. And that’s when my thinking began to change.
It’s in a few parts. Part of it, I will admit, was just selfish bratty shit. Brikenbrak has always been my brainchild, and I was really uncomfortable suddenly making compromises and concessions to a season with people I didn’t know that well. I was almost prepared to deal with it, but it wasn’t the only thing on my mind. The other big thing was growing up. I thought I was an adult at 18. I was really sure of it at 21. But as 24 began creeping its way to 25, I realized that adulthood was still looming. Still waiting for me to come claim it. To claim it, I would have to let a lot of things go. I would have to take a big step that would be incredibly scary and yet very freeing. And I did. I made the leap.
In January, I told the group that I was leaving. It was time for me to shift the way I was working and what I allowed my focus to be. And it was time for me to go. They were upset at first, but the undercurrent right away was that they wanted to take the space over and make it work. I was glad for that. I am incredibly proud of the concept and design of The Think Tank, and it made me happy that they wanted to continue that good work. I told them that I would continue paying for the space (I paid most of the rent for the space for most of the time it was open), and I would give them time to get their ducks in a row and take over. I was assured that they would be doing so, and all was well.
The first problem really hit in February when I lost my job. Of course, this meant that I was unable to support the space financially. I used the majority of my final paycheck to pay February’s rent and told them they had a full month to figure out their next step on how to pay for and run the space. I didn’t hear any objections, so I assumed they were hard at work figuring things out.
March came and the talks I had with the group began to focus on me signing over all the stuff in the space (like the lights, projector, chairs, etc.). I agreed that this needed to happen, but I wanted to make sure everything was taken care of. I was just about to agree to completely let the whole thing go and have them totally take over when the shoe dropped: rent was not paid.
Our realtor (a truly awesome person, really), sent an email wondering where March’s rent was. I found this pretty curious, because there was actually a good deal of money just waiting to be collected. One group had done a full rehearsal process there, and another had done a full production. There was at least 500 dollars just waiting to be collected, which would have paid for most of the rent. They would have been left paying just a few hundred dollars between them to get through March. I informed them of this and waited for them to respond.
The other shoe dropped when the realtor posted a 5 day notice of eviction (rightly so) if the rent wasn’t paid. So I emailed everyone involved and told them that now was the time to get it together and get through March. Wouldn’t take much. Just needed a little motivation. Considering just a week before I was being pressured into signing over all the equipment, I really assumed that everything was on track. What I wasn’t expecting was the email I received.
What the email said (I won’t quote the whole thing, because that’s not the point here) was that they found that making the whole thing work was “impossible”, so they were all pulling out. I will admit, that particular word, “impossible”, made me incredibly angry. Difficult? Sure. Time consuming? No question. Not worth it for them? Possibly. But impossible?
Impossible is a word for cowards. It is a word for people who look at a situation and say “if I cannot do it easily or quickly, then it cannot be done”. Perhaps I don’t know enough of the story, but the space worked when I was the financial backer for almost a year. But somehow was “impossible” for the one month I didn’t back it. To be perfectly honest, I am glad that something I am so incredibly proud of did not end up being run by anyone who falls back on words like “impossible”. Cowardice is the enemy of art. What we do requires bravery. It requires boldness. And I would wager that great art was never made by a true coward.
So it was back to just me. I thought that adulthood meant transitioning it all to others, but I found that it meant another trial by fire to work my way through it. Luckily, as I mentioned before, my realtor was a true gem and really didn’t want to see me with an eviction on my record. She had also dealt with the others, and realized how badly I was being screwed. So we struck a deal for me to clear everything out of the space over a weekend, and we’d call it good.
So I did. I worked for 17 and a half hours straight. Disassembled and moved every single item out of the space. Most of it was by myself (though I thank Kirby Brown very much for lending a welcome hand and some company for some hours). It was easily one of the most difficult and awful things I’ve ever done. But it felt appropriate in a way. Leaving adolescence behind. Moving on. Such lessons are often very difficult.
So what now? I am keeping my head down for the moment. I have a lot of writing on my plate at the moment, and I am very happy doing that. I am certainly not done with theatre (nor will I ever be), so I guarantee you’ll see Brikenbrak again. It will probably look different. Be different. And that’s a good thing. I have now tried the “let’s do show after show after show” way and it does just doesn’t work for me. It’s a good thing to know about myself.
I would like to thank everyone who gave their support and hard work to make the last year possible. I am so incredibly proud of The Think Tank. When I walked away in January, it was going strong and it was something that really could have been sustained. I hope that you don’t look at this as a failure of the idea. The idea was and is a strong one. I still believe that renting spaces shouldn’t feel like highway robbery. Someone who is better equipped to be a landlord than I am could really take this idea and make it gold. I just am not at a point in my life where it could happen. It’s a good thing to know about myself.
I would like to apologize to Roundhouse Theatre, who were about to start a round of rehearsals in there. I would very much like to apologize to Odradek Theatre, who had to find a whole new place to put on their show. It is a testament to their courage and resourcefulness that they pulled it off. To those groups: if I could have done anything at all to keep the space going, if only for you guys, I would have. I truly would. By the time I realized something was wrong, it was too late for me to fix it. And for that, I am sorry.
To everyone who contributed their support and hard work, you are not forgotten. I never really got the chance to properly thank those who gave over Kickstarter. I know that probably seems like a long time ago, but I don’t forget these kinds of things. And I will make sure that when you see Brikenbrak again, you all are properly thanked.
If you have any questions, feel free to let me know. This isn’t meant to be some mysterious thing. It’s also not meant to be an airing of dirty laundry, so certainly there are many elements not fully disclosed here. It’s meant to be moving on. For me and for others. So let’s take a leap forward together, eh?