Act 2: You're On!

Spotlight on Success: Patrick Conaway & Growing a Theatre Company from the Ground Up!

July 18, 2022 Kate & Rhonda Season 2 Episode 9
Act 2: You're On!
Spotlight on Success: Patrick Conaway & Growing a Theatre Company from the Ground Up!
Show Notes Transcript

We are thrilled to introduce a slightly different type of podcast. This week,  we are featuring a new platform for Act 2 Share Our Stage called Spotlight on Success. And, what a way to begin with this energizing, heart-centered conversation with our first Spotlight On Success, highlighting an up-and-comer, Patrick Conaway. A creative entrepreneur, a dreamer and a doer, Patrick is doing something special, new and noteworthy in the creation of  Actors Company of Natick, a new non-profit theater company bringing theater with purpose to the Metrowest Boston area. Our podcast is just part of the way we support the recipient of a Spotlight on Success; we foster success by sponsoring an event, giving them assistance with their bio, their advertisements, and a press release. So the A2YO Studio is proud to shine the spotlight on Patrick Conaway.

Patrick Conaway is the Founder and Artistic and Executive Director of ACON. Patrick attended the Heart School in Hartford, Connecticut, where he received his bachelor's of Fine Arts in acting. Patrick continued his acting training at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox Mass, The Drama Studio -  London and Ealing unit, United Kingdom - Monash University in Prato, Italy, and the Company One Theater here in Boston, Mass. Once settled in, Patrick acted at many theaters in the Boston area, including: The Central Square Theater, FTLO Theater, The Bostonian Society, The Theater Company of Saugus, the Firehouse Center for the Arts and New York Ensemble to mention a few. Patrick also has worked regionally at the Saratoga Shakespeare Company and The Hartford Stage which reveals a lot about the quality of his craft, because he's always been working, landing gigs, basically - crushing it. Aside from acting. Patrick also lives and works at Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Welcome to our first Spotlight On Success, Patrick Conaway,

Highlights include:

“I have been humbled and overwhelmed by people's willingness to come and share their time with me. God, that is something I didn't really fully experience before making this decision to start this company - the honor and value of people's time, truly, being able to give it up and create something and take time out of their lives to help make this happen. And that has been the most humbling experience of my life.”

“I think it's important to, to share your thoughts with others, and to, ultimately, come up with a decision by yourself.”

“This summer, starting on July 22, we're performing: Julius Caesar, and You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, alternating shows. There'll be 11 performances in total of the two productions until July 31. And throughout that period, if you happen to be in Natick or Natick center on the night of July 27, we will be participating in the Natick Cultural Center's Nick recreations’ Spotlight Concert Series at the Natick Common.  Please come check us out on the Natick Green -  it will be a lot of fun…. There's a lot more information about that at www.actorscompanyofnatick.com. Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook. We are just building from the ground up. So any support we can get, nothing is too small, we are ready to bring theater with purpose.”

For more information about our Guest:
Website: https://www.actorscompanyofnatick.com/
Tickets:
https://www.actorscompanyofnatick.com/tickets
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/actorscompanyofnatick
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/actorscompanyofnatick/?hl=en

Support the show
Rhonda: Welcome to Act 2:

You'reOn! Join Us Weekly at our studio roundtable as Rhonda and Kate invite spectacular guests to weigh in on staying vibrant and healthy. Launch your next great app with authenticity and purpose.

Kate:

Summon your courage superstar and step into the limelight. So grab a coffee...

Rhonda:

or a martini,

Kate:

and let's set the stage for a grand entrance. It's Act Two.

All:

You're on.

Kate:

Greetings, friends and welcome. I'm Kate Leavey and I have the great pleasure of working with one of my dear

Rhonda:

Well thank you Kate. Hello, it's Rhonda Garvin Conaway here and we are joined by the incomparable Cathy Carswell, an amazing producer and friend.

Kate:

We love her! Friends. I'm thrilled to introduce a slightly different type of a podcast this week we are featuring a new platform for act 2 Share our stage, our mother company, and that is a platform called Spotlight on Success. Spotlight On Success involves an up and comer this week, Patrick Conaway, a creative entrepreneur, a dreamer and a doer. Patrick is doing something special, new and noteworthy. Not only do we interview the recipient of a Spotlight on Success, but we foster their success by sponsoring an event, giving them assistance with their bio, their advertisement, a press release. And well, it really depends on the individual. So the A2YO Studio is delighted to introduce our first - and you'll forgive us a little nepotism this week because we're shining the spotlight on Patrick Conaway, who is in fact Rhonda's son. This is true. And in fact, he was my choice for Spotlight on Success... and we're not related! Rhonda before we meet Patrick, can you give a few more details regarding Spotlight on Success?

Rhonda:

I would love to - Yes. Spotlight on Success is a program we just completely believe in - bringing entrepreneurs and creatives into the spotlight. So whether this be a restaurant opening, a book launch, facilitating a fundraiser for a nonprofit theater company, running an auction for an up and coming on the art scene. The possibilities are endless. We bring our spirit, authenticity, our talents and our considerable background in public speaking, programming and event planning and tailor it to the client's needs almost like a wedding planner. And Kate and I have both been asked several times separately to help facilitate people marrying each other. So Spotlight on Success is for the doers and dreamers - infused with mentoring coaching, guidance and who doesn't like to hear good news for change. People doing good and doing well!

Kate:

Well, I'm certainly excited. So let me read the bio and introduce this fellow to you, Rhonda! Patrick Conaway is the founder artistic and executive director of ACON. Patrick attended the Heart School in Hartford, Connecticut, where he received his bachelor's of Fine Arts in acting. Patrick continued his acting training at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox Mass, The Drama Studio - London and Ealing unit, United Kingdom - Monash University in Prato, Italy, and the Company One Theater here in Bosto, Mass. Once settled in, Patrick acted at many theaters in the Boston area, including: The Central Square Theater, FTLO Theater, The Bostonian Society, The Theatre Company of Saugas, the Firehouse Center for the Arts and New York Ensemble to mention a few. Patrick also has worked regionally at the Saratoga Shakespeare Company and The Hartford Stage which reveals a lot about the quality of his craft, because he's always been working, landing gigs, basically - crushing it. Aside from acting. Patrick is the site coordinator of the Needham Extended Day Program at Mitchell Elementary School and also lives and works at Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Welcome to our first Spotlight On Success, Patrick Conaway,

Patrick Conaway:

Thank you. It's such a pleasure being here. Hi, Kate. Hi, Mom!

Kate:

All right, we're gonna get right into our hard-hitting journalism here. Why on earth open a nonprofit arts organization during a pandemic, sir.

Patrick Conaway:

Well, we at Actors Company of Natick are really, really excited to be bringing "theater with purpose" to the Metro West region, and Natick, especially this summer. We've had quite a road to get here, and what our artistic team and what our creative team and our executive team all believe in is that now is a really important moment for us to be sharing these stories with communities. We see an opening here in the Metro West region that can bring all sorts of people and then bring them in, draw them in, not block them out, not make this like a theater only thing. This is something that I really feel like all members of community can really engage in here in Natick and Metro West region. So we're just really excited.

Kate:

Well, so are we. Your selections are so smart for your inaugural season. Can you talk about the two plays that ACON is going to put up this summer?

Patrick Conaway:

Sure. We are producing two plays, one of them being William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and the other: You're a good man Charlie Brown through Concord Theatrics. We are really, really excited about the two selections and we're honoring and are celebrating our community heroes. I was messaging with each show what we're doing with every one of our plays that we ended up producing, we are honoring a specific group of community here as with each play, so this year, we're honoring veterans with our production of Julius Caesar, and educators of all kinds, whether production of your Good Man, Charlie Brown,

Kate:

Which is such a head nod to your parents, because your father, of course, has served in the armed forces and served on the local police force, your mom's a teacher. And I know that's not the only reason. But I do appreciate like, that's shows where your heart is. And that is all through your mission statement. It's through your core values, which you're able to articulate, which I think is amazing for, for a young organization, to have such a kind of noble heart. And that's clear, I think, and so many levels in what you're doing.

Patrick Conaway:

Thank you.

Rhonda:

I do remember having a conversation with you, Patrick, where we were supporting you and getting some photos to help promote the Community Heroes aspect of your productions this summer, and you use some personal photos of our family, Kate mentioned my husband being in the armed forces, so of your dad, and you and then myself with my friends who I've taught with for years, and you said it hadn't really occurred to you that it was almost like a subconscious decision. Can you speak about that? A little bit?

Patrick Conaway:

Yeah, you know, it was so funny. I was actually do with a couple of people talking about which plays we were going to be doing. And the community members we were going to be highlighting, it was it was very subconscious. It was totally inadvertent, which is kind of funny, that I picked two plays surrounding parents in each of their respective fields. But I am so happy that we did. And we're just really excited to bring these to celebrate these two groups of people, but also just, I feel like it's gonna help bring people in and maybe experience a new theater audience through these selections.

Kate:

Yeah, and I think the choices are so wise, happiness is a really hard thing to pin down these days for folks. And Charlie Brown, well, it's just brings you a lot of happiness. But there are so many layers to that little play. And Julius Caesar, of course, is going to make us think about citizenship, it's going make us think about leadership and, and friendship. So it's brilliant choices. The other question that seems an immediate and obvious one to ask is, how do you go about starting a theatre company from nothing? I'm specifically thinking of the practical aspects for folks who are listening, and they might be inspired to do something new that they have to start from the ground level up. So how do you do that?

Patrick Conaway:

Well, we're learning as we go. Well, what's really, really important is that I guess what's led us in this excursion here has been all about our mission. So whatever we're doing, logistically, financially, we're just is that adhering to our mission, and if it isn't, well be happy to make that cut. But if it is, then it's integral to do what our mission. So everything we do is mission based - every person, actor, creative executive, who we bring on the side to reflect our core values on and off the stage. Believe me, it was a difficult process to create a team, because there are so many qualified people out there. But I'm really, really happy with our team this summer. It's gonna be a really special summer. And as you said about the shows, there is totally something for everyone. I mean, take your kid to Julius Caesar, because it might be an important story to share. It's a very timeless story. And if you are eager for some happiness, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown might just be what you're looking for this summer.

Kate:

I think Shakespeare can be daunting to people when they've never experienced it, because it's one thing to read it in 10th grade in your English class. But it's another thing to see it as it was meant to be, which is experienced and to be out there with, you know, the lighting and the drama of it, and to have people delivering the words who really understand it, and you understand it in a way that maybe you can't when you just read it. So I think that it's brilliant. Bring kids absolutely. And there's so many layers to or lessons to learn in that play itself. I'm very excited.

Rhonda:

As am I. I do think people can feel intimidated by that. And I love that you're kind of reinforcing - that one is not for children. And the other is just for adults that this is theater for everyone, and should be accessible for everyone. And I think that's an important point to mention. I'd love to go back to what you were chatting about, Kate, or inquiring, which is building a company. What have you found to be the most helpful thus far? Are you're less than a year in, you have two major productions coming your way. What do you do to make it happen when a year ago, this was just an idea.

Patrick Conaway:

It starts with having people around who are willing to help. I don't think I could have gotten anywhere without my girlfriend, my parents, the creative team that we hired, the people who are willing to voluntarily help create a Canva design, or hang up signs, or help set up a table for auditions. You know, something we really talked about as a company. And when we were holding our auditions in our interviews, was, yes, we want you to come on as an actor. Yes, we want you to come on as a music director, but are you willing to see a truck full of programs or set pieces and stop what you're doing and comehelp? That is the attitude, this very take the initiative attitude that we are really - that our company, that's the backbone of our company, is to make sure people are willing to help. And I don't think any of this is possible without that. And I have been humbled and overwhelmed by people's willingness to come and share their time with me. God, that is something I didn't really fully experienced before making this decision to start this company was the value of people's time, truly, being able to give it up and create something and take time out of their lives to help make this happen. And that has been the most humbling experience of my life. By far.

Kate:

Well, you've definitely assembled your Team Awesome. And I think that that in any new endeavor, having people who are there to support you, but also to do any task that is necessary. That's certainly important. I'm also watching you hit the pavement, you're writing letters. I mean, this is a nonstop experience for you. It's pretty impressive to watch. And we had the great fortune to be at a big huge fundraiser that you through, that we helped facilitate the environment, the energy in that room was just tremendous. But it just feels like you are going about this in a very methodical way. But also just throwing a lot of energy. But your optimism at it too. And your Team Awesome. Doesn't hurt.

Patrick Conaway:

That is very flattering. When you say that I threw the fundraiser, that fundraiser is impossible without you two and Cathy Carswell. Because Act 2 Share Our Stage was the whole organization, the backbone of that event that led to such a successful evening. I mean, we were overwhelmed with the turnout, with the people bidding on the auction items, the performances, everybody sounded wonderful. It was an amazing night. And thank you so so much for helping make that happen. And for really just taking the initiative, just like what part of our company and we're just so thrilled you're on our team.

Kate:

Well, it's such a love fest, because we feel the same way. And there's nothing we believe in more than then helping dreamers and doers. And if there's anything we can do to support folks who have a great sense of purpose and mission, we're doing something good for the world. I mean, it was equally intoxicating for us. But the vibe in that place. It was just vibrating with great energy, you were able to raise way over your, you know, initial fundraising goal. It was completely mutual, my friend. But that's, that's what we do. And it's what we are, you know, that's why we're so thrilled to raise this new platform, Spotlight On Success. And what a way for us to begin with you, sir.

patrick:

Thank you. I mean, thank you so much. It's so overwhelming. And as you said, we surpassed our goal. And a large part of that had to do with you guys helping make that happen.

Kate:

Yeah, we're all right. We're pretty good.

Patrick Conaway:

I need to say thank you at least a few more times, because that's really

Kate:

Well, one thing I think is also really cool that a comes doing is that you have hired 22 professional actors from a pool of 350 actors who auditioned and you're committed to paying a fair and equitable salary, which is incredibly hard to achieve for a fledgling nonprofit. It's incredible. So two parts, why is it important to you to do that? And how are you able to assure 22 salaries not to mention the space and hiring light and sound, creating sets, costuming, et cetera? First off, let's start with why is that important?

Patrick Conaway:

Unfortunately, there is kind of this very negative stigma about the arts and people pursuing a career and the arts and how it's not going to be financially stable. And how people are like, you know, up Good luck, you know, have fun in LA or in Hollywood. What we're trying to do at the Actors Company of Natick is to bring that kind of talent and amazing art to this area. And to give artists an opportunity to create theater in this area, while being stable and while paying them equitably. And I've just heard from so many artists, especially in the Boston area, who, you know, will take on a project for five weeks and get paid 50 bucks, and there's nothing against the organization and paying the $50 - if That's all that they can acquire. So what we're really trying to do is focus on the equity portion of the company, and making sure people are compensated for their time - like I was saying earlier, people's time is just unbelievably sparse in a lot of ways, because people are trying to pay their bills, especially artists, and it's been a very humbling experience, again, to be able to provide that. We can't do it alone, none of what we're able to do is without the community, which is why it's really important to us to partner with the community and community businesses in any way we can to highlight and promote their talents as well. What we're trying to do is making sure artists are compensated equitably, and to making sure they're treated equitably, as well.

Kate:

Well, the talent that was on that stage at the cabaret fundraiser. I mean, it was just bonkers, amazing. But they don't just like spring out of a, you know, eggshell that way. There's College, there's continuing voice lessons, there's all the years of work and that continues in the idea that artists should just work for the love of their craft. It's a wonderful idea. But you do have to pay the bills. And with an organization such as yours, you have to hire the sound, you have to hire the place where you rehearse and the stage. And there's just so much that goes into running an organization like this, and you have sidestepped a lot of naysayers who said, it's just too hard. It's too hard to start your own company. But you've got a great vision. And I have to say the talent you have pulled in is flabbergasting. I can't wait to see these productions.

Patrick Conaway:

Oh, thanks, Kate. I mean, it's been it's been amazing. I mean, just being able to work with these people, and do make these new relations. It's a great hodgepodge of people from around the country. Amazing people around Boston and amazing people around Natick, I am so excited for people in Natick, and people in the Metro West region to come see these shows. I just feel like there's an opportunity here to tell these stories in a unique way. And I invite people in and if people come, and they hate it, it's okay to challenge them. We could take the we could take the conversation and carry it forward.

Kate:

You have got big talent coming in from New York, Georgia, LA. I mean, I was reading some of the the bios, these, these folks are already incredibly decorated. So - but I do like your idea that, you know, theater should challenge.

Patrick Conaway:

Definitely, there is a lot of opportunity, and I don't believe theater to be an apolitical thing. It's just what it is, you know, when you're sharing a story, the earliest form of storytelling is theater. And it's just such a beautiful opportunity that we get to share that with this region. So

Kate:

wherever you fall on the political spectrum, it really doesn't matter because you're going to have a relationship with these plays. And it's going to cause you to think and think about your own sense of status quo and provoke some growth and change. It's just it's, it's a special thing.

Rhonda:

I wanted to acknowledge that talent as well that we witnessed at the cabaret. You mentioned that our company act 2 Share our stage that puts forth our podcasts platform and the Spotlight on Success Platform as well. While we were there, it was really impressive to see some of the performers who will be highlighted and featured this summer. So if friends who are listening to this podcast, go online, I believe they'll be able to actually see a Night of Stars cabaret. And you can take a glimpse, if you're curious, is this production of Julius Caesar and You're a Good Man Charlie Brown worth it, you get a snippet of some of those folks that you see in the cabaret and you'll be really entertained and it's just a wonderful event to catch up. And it'll cost you nothing. You can go online and check that out.

Kate:

Patrick, we're gonna we're gonna shift into the Golden Nugget segment. For our podcasts. It's often the most popular popular segment of our show. So we're gonna invite you to weigh in on what you think our listeners who are at a point of transition, who might be getting inspired right now to launch a new second act. But what do they need to be successful in their Next Great act.

Patrick Conaway:

I think it's important to, to share your thoughts with others, and to ultimately, come up with a decision by yourself.

Kate:

Oh, I love that we've never had that kind of wisdom.

Patrick Conaway:

So you got to do what's best for you. Right? You know, you got to go with your heart and go with your gut. And also Humble yourself to the opinions of the people on your team.

Kate:

That's a fantastic nugget.

Patrick Conaway:

I think I hear my cat.

Rhonda:

We have a cat that often joins us in the studio.

Unknown:

I was hoping Bean would walk over here. appears she has gone under the bed.

Rhonda:

Patrick, I have been assigned the regrettable task of the timekeeper. Which means we're almost at the end of our interview with you. I know we could talk about this all day because it's really important to have art in our community and in our lives. It's it's everything is where, as far as I'm concerned, mostly, but we're curious if you could elaborate, maybe more than you already have or share something we don't know about what's next for you.

Patrick Conaway:

So, as we kind of talked about, this summer, starting on July 22, we're performing: Julius Caesar, and You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, alternating shows. There'll be 11 performances total of the two productions until July 31. And through out that if you happen to be on Natick in Natick center on the night of July 27. We will be holding - we will be participating in the Natick Cultural Center's Natick recreations, spotlight concert series at the Natick Common please come check us out on the Natick Green - will be a lot of fun. If you are a business owner looking to advertise your organization, please consider putting an ad in our program or hanging a banner on our property. There's a lot more information about that at www.actorscompanyofnatick.com. Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook. s as we've talked about in this broadcast, we are just building from the ground up. So any sport we can get, nothing is too small, we are ready to bring theater with purpose to Natick this summer.

Kate:

Amen I love it. And it also occurs to me something I'd love to share with folks before we go is that your company has also baked into its schedule, at least one day of service. And I know you have other intentions to kind of reach out to sort of some of our isolated parts of our communities, some of our younger citizens. I think that's an extraordinary thing, because you're putting together two big plays in a short amount of time. And you're taking time out to do service. And I think that that's very true to who you are and the mission of your company. But that's impressive. So but so thank you for offering that as well as the bringing theater to the MetroWest Boston area, this opportunity during times of challenge for theater to soften our hearts to maybe to maybe change us and challenge us. So thank you for this conversation and all the good energy that a startup brings to a community - very excited.

Patrick Conaway:

I mean, thank you for having me. It's such a privilege to be able to share what we're doing here on this podcast. So thank you again.

Rhonda:

You're very welcome, friends, you can learn more about Patrick and the actor's company of Natick at actors companyofnatick.com. And as Patrick mentioned on all the social medias

Kate:

...and special things to our skilled producer behind the scenes Kathy Carswell friends who are listening, if you know of any up and coming dreamers and doers offering something new and special to the world, maybe they need some help getting started, please reach out to us and they can apply. And maybe they'll be stepping into the limelight here and be our next Spotlight on Success. And patrons who are listening, if you want to lift up a sure thing and bring theater with purpose to the MetroWest Boston area. With your support and patronage please reach out to act2sos.community@gmail.com.

Rhonda:

That is wonderful. And before I close this off, it also occurred to me, Patrick, the productions are going to be live streamed Is that true?

Patrick Conaway:

Julius Caesar, there will be some type of video components. Excellent. That is yet to be decided.

Rhonda:

Roger that. So if you're not in the area, there's a potential that you could actually view this from afar. So it is not just limited to Natick, so something to be on the lookout for by the time this podcast comes out, we might have some details about that. So stay tuned.

Patrick Conaway:

Excellent.

Rhonda:

It is now left for me to say go forth be brave, live well and do good. It's Act 2 You're On

Kate: Act 2:

You're On was brought to buy act 2 Share our stage. You can find us at a2yo.com and also on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Rhonda:

Please download listen and subscribe. Wherever you find your podcast. You can support us using Patreon for buy us a coffee mug. I do like coffee. No no, you don't need any more caffeine gate. Bias a coffee is a platform that folks can use to support entrepreneurs and artists like us

Kate:

so we can keep providing resources for the doers and dreamers to find connection, purpose and the skills needed to create a sustainable, fulfilling life to better serve the world. And also so we can buy more coffee.

Rhonda:

Oh Kate, thanks for listening everyone.