Today we’d like to introduce you to Padraic Duffy.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started my love of theater as an actor, yet halfway through college I realized that it was playwriting side of things that interested me the most. I loved the craft of it– as a writer you can create these artifacts that other artists can then bring to life in novel ways. I jumped right into the LA theater scene when I returned from college (I’m an LA native, having grown up in Tarzana the son of an actor and a ballerina) and soon I found myself fully immersed in the Sacred Fools Theater. It was a bunch of crazy, passionate artists who liked to have fun but were very serious about making art. The company’s work had an absurd, heartfelt, irreverent tone that fit with my voice perfectly.
I, soon, became involved in helping the theater run (it is a non-dues paying membership company), serving as a Co-Artistic Director for many years and then finally as Managing Director going on 6 years. I’ve had 6 of my full length plays produced by Sacred Fools, but recently I have been concentrating on trying to grow the organization. With our move into the 8,000 sq. ft. complex called The Broadwater on Hollywood’s Theater row two years ago, we are putting together a business model that will allow us to keep making art for years to come.
Has it been a smooth road?
While LA has an amazing theater scene, it is tough to balance volunteer theater work with work and family. I now have a three-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, and they rightly take up most of the time I had in the past used to write.
And it is also challenging when trying to grow an arts organization to enact change, since everyone is a volunteer. You often know what the next steps are, but no one has the time or the resources to make them happen. So change is slow. It is also often tough in this town centered on TV and film to generate excitement about experimental theater outside of the small, passionate core theater audience.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Sacred Fools Theater – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I think what sets us apart is that we are democratically run. The members of our company– actors, writers, technicians, designers, stage managers etc– come together once a year to elect Artistic Directors, who then select shows that members propose. This can be messy and make you want to pull your hair out– we have over 100 artists all with different ideas of how things should work, what we should do, etc.– and yet it’s also what makes the company vibrant, joyous and risk-taking. We extend this openness to other aspects of our operations as well– we have open auditions, meaning that we don’t limit roles to company members and we have open monthly meetings. In an effort toward diversity and inclusion, we also recently lowered our ticket prices, setting our top ticket price for this season at just $15 (at a time when many theater companies are raising their prices). So I am very proud of the direction we are going!
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I like that there is space to breathe. That there are a dozen ecosystems you can drive to in about an hour. That it’s a world-class city full of all kinds of diversity (as a father of young children, and especially in the current political climate, I think that is vitally important).
I wish the average citizen embraced the arts a bit more. One downside to how spread out LA is is that I feel there is a lack of common space that we all can feel is ours where we can congregate. And I guess that’s one function the theater can serve.
- This season, no patron will pay more than $15 for a Sacred Fools ticket
- We often do shows, such as our late night fare, which is between $5-$10.
- Website: www.sacredfools.org, www.thebroadwaterla.com
- Email: SFManagingDirector@sacredfools.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sacredfoolsla/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sacredfoolsla
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/SacredFoolsLA
Jessica Sherman Photography