#GivingTuesday: Nan McNamara Shares her Co-op Story
In 1995, I auditioned to be a member of Actors Co-op.
I received a callback, but ultimately, was not accepted into membership.
(I know. Right?)
I had auditioned with my dear friend and mentor, Elaine Welton Hill. Elaine DID get accepted into membership.
So I had to return to Actors Co-op somewhat begrudgingly (because rejection always stings), to see her perform.
Over the next two years, I would watch Elaine shine on the Co-op stages, in performances that I still remember (and I bet you do, too) over 20 years later:
As Irene Livingstone in Moss Hart’s Light Up the Sky, Elaine brought the house down with a single look of terror as she looked in the mirror after a sleepless night;
As Mrs. Kendall in Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man, Elaine’s performance was heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time.
But it wasn’t just Elaine’s work on stage - the productions themselves were wonderful. From the sets, to the costumes, to the story-telling, I had to admit, Actors Co-op was producing beautiful work (without me!).
Not only that, but whenever I went to see a show, the people that I encountered were nice and extremely professional: from the box office, to the house manager, even on the phone making a reservation (back in the days before we had a website and online ticketing).
There was something special about Actors Co-op that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I wanted to be a part of it. I was going to have to let go of my bruised ego and audition a second time for this company.
In 1997, I did. And this time I was accepted into membership.
Over the next 20 years, I acted in productions, directed productions and served in leadership.
Why does one spend 20 years at a little theatre company on a church campus in Hollywood?
Certainly, the deep friendships are part of the reason (including many that we have lost over the years: Elaine in 1999, David Schall in 2003 and others).
And as an actor, theatre is my first love.
And as a woman of faith, I value the spiritual connection with fellow members.
Add all those reasons to the fact that for over 20 years, Actors Co-op has been able to produce shows that encompass what great theatre is all about: powerful storytelling that transforms. I have felt it on stage and I have seen it in the faces of audience members. And so many of you have shared with me ways that Actors Co-op has moved you, made you laugh and perhaps even started a conversation.
It’s why I plan on supporting Actors Co-op with a year-end financial gift, so that in another 20 years this company will still be producing theatre that entertains, that makes us think and that illuminates our lives.
Won’t you join me?