Talking Head! with Sarah Weissman, PR Maven
Hi, guys! Welcome to Talking Head!, a new feature on The Bad Oracle. These are interviews with the movers and shakers of the Baltimore small theater scene: administrators, managers, company directors, everyone who makes our community what it is. Keep tuned to this space several times a month for exciting announcements, heard-it-here-first shit and cute gossip.
Talking Head! with Sarah Weissman, A Pretties Big Deal
Today I was super stoked to be talking to Sarah Weissman, who is one of the most fabulous theater admins in Baltimore. We love Sarah at TBO, she’s our front line contact at Glass Mind Theatre, one of our favorite stages, and she never fails to be professional, hilarious, and amazingly talented at what she does. We talked to Sarah today about her multi-faceted life, which involves performing in The Pretties, the GMT jam opening tonight.
I am the Marketing and Communications Director. I’m the liaison for the press, I prep the press materials, run the social media. I draft all the copy, creating content about the shows and the company. I get some help from our Managing Director, Lynn Morton. She’s been sort of a mentor to me.
How did you end up in that position?
I thought I was going to go into arts journalism, then the summer of my sophomore year in college my mom said, “Why don’t you see if any arts organizations have a communications internship?”. And I did a marketing/communications internship at the Washington Performing Arts Society in D.C. I was lucky because there are a lot of paid internships in D.C. WPAS introduced me to press releases and, it sounds silly, but I was really excited about them. I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, being an actress is something I discovered on its own. It’s nice when it feels like something gels with you as a person. It makes sense, because I want to like every show I see. Obviously, that’s not always possible, but I pride myself on pointing out the positive. I love shouting, figuratively, about what excites me personally. I’m naturally enthusiastic, so it feels like a solid fit for me.
So, you’re also an actress, correct? Aren’t you in [PLUG] The Pretties by Ann Turiano which premieres tonight [END PLUG]? What is your part in that like?
I am one of the two Furies, which is super thrilling. I never really thought of myself as someone who moved well. I was, for various reasons, self-conscious about how I moved. It’s exciting to have physicality that isn’t your own. With the past two shows I’ve acted in, I’ve not only subverted what I thought I could do as an actor, but also as a person, learned new was of expressing myself. With the Furies, I play the embodiment of Revenge. It’s really cool to be something so ethereal. People think of me, and they would be right, as bubbly and optimistic and sunny. It’s always really fun to subvert people’s expectations of you. And Ann’s language is so poetic and that is something that resonates with me.
Glass Mind just won the Actors Need a Living Fund award from this very website. Can you talk a little about what that grant and others like it mean to your company?
We’re paying our whole cast this time, which is VERY exciting. We had already cast the show when we won, so it was a nice surprise for the cast. It was nice to have something to put in their back pockets. It’s really important to validate art as a legitimate career. It changes how people think about their participation when you can show them actual cash.
Is this the first time Glass Mind will be paying actors?
It will be the first time.
One more question for you, Sarah, one that I’ve always wondered about: Glass Mind’s tagline is “Making children’s theatre for adults.” What the hell does that mean?
Liz Galuardi, who was in The Dum Dums and is one of the founding members of GMT, actually thought of that when she worked for Young Audiences. She saw a workshop at Imagination Stage and liked how they were creating things with simple materials that were really engaging. The idea is to be professional but also involve play. Not being afraid to shake things up. Even when we tackle really serious subjects, as we’re doing in The Pretties, there is still a really playful way to work with them. While this is a drama, there are a lot of playful, whimsical elements that are potentially reminiscent of when you were a kid, counting on your imagination. We’re messing with what people know as The Oresteia – not losing the integrity of the story, because Ann made very sure that we didn’t – but playing with the perspective and giving these amazing women characters an internal life, which you didn’t see in the original translation.
Got someone you think we should feature on Talking Head!? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interviews edited for length and clarity.