About the writer

 

Photo by Julie Curry Photography

(This page last updated 8-27-12.)

Email:  amarylliswriter at gmail dot com

I have been interested in theatre ever since I was a member of my high school’s Thespian Troupe over 30 years ago.  However, I became passionate about writing about theatre in June of 2007.  I saw a Neil LaBute play called “Fat Pig” at the Phoenix Theatre here in Indianapolis.  I found myself wanting to write about it more publicly than in my own paper journal or on my family blog.

I saw on the Phoenix’ website a quote from a post on IndianaAuditions.com by Joe Boling.  I had never heard of IA, but when I went to that site and found the “You Review It” forum, my life changed.  I chose “Amaryllis Jones” as my pseudonym, and suddenly I was exploring all kinds of theatre in Indianapolis and writing about them.

I posted in the forums for a while, but then IA’s owner, Joe Urban, asked if I would join the official IA review team and help them cover the 2007 Indy Fringe Festival.   I was thrilled to receive my first media pass.  I almost killed myself trying to see and review all of the Fringe shows that week while still working 50 hours at my day job but again, my life changed for the better.

After that, I initiated relationships with several theatre marketing directors around town, and I made an effort to see shows at a wide variety of theatres – community (all-volunteer), professional, and hybrid – whether they were able to offer me media passes or not.  I fell into the pattern of seeing and writing about 3-5 shows on IA each week.  I started learning as much as I could about theatre and about writing theatre reviews.  I look forward to continuing to learn about this for the rest of my life.

In January of 2008, the IA review team manager stepped down.  I volunteered for the job.  At first Joe Urban agreed to let me try it for six months, but then he told me that he thought he might have someone else he liked better.  I decided I was ready to try running my own theatre reviews blog instead.  I am grateful to my brother, Ned, for helping me figure out how to get “Indy Theatre Habit” started, and for introducing me to blogging in the first place.  I imagine I will be learning about blogging for the rest of my life, too.

But I still hang out on IA, and I encourage anyone who is interested in Indianapolis area theatre – especially community theatre –  to check it out.

In 2008 I saw more than 140 shows.  Here is a quick directory of what I saw that year, with links to my reviews.  For part of 2008 I served as a judge for the Encore Association.  I was not allowed to write publicly about the 30+ shows that I judged over the 2008-2009 season, but it was still an excellent learning experience for me.

My year as an Encore judge ended on August 31, 2009.  Here is a directory of the 134 shows that I saw in 2009, with links to my reviews of the shows I was allowed to write about.

Here is a directory of the 120 shows I saw in 2010.  Here is a directory of the 91 shows I saw in 2011.  Here is my directory-in-progress for 2012.

I  used to spend 20-30 hours a week on this blog, including driving all around central Indiana to see 1-5 shows per weekend, writing about the shows, editing what I wrote, embedding useful links in what I wrote, monitoring and responding to comments, and fielding requests for reviews from 50+ theatres and other arts organizations.   This was on top of another, full-time, job that I also valued (and still value) very much.

The pace and pressure eventually became too much and my health began to suffer.  I took a summer sabbatical in 2010, returned to the crazy pace that fall, then took an even longer break from writing reviews in 2011.  I think (I hope) I have finally made peace with the fact that I will always have to miss some shows that I would love to have seen.  I also have done, and will continue to do, some soul-searching about what kind of theatre writing I most want to do.

When I started Indy Theatre Habit, I hoped that my blog would encourage everyone in the Indianapolis area to make a habit out of going to the theatre. I believed, and still believe, that “Life is just better with a shot of theatre in it.”  

Now, after four years, I realize that I don’t really care about promoting theatre to people who don’t get it or who aren’t ready for it or who went to one show and decided they didn’t like the whole art form.  I feel sorry for them, but really, what do I know?  Maybe there is something else out there that is more important for them to engage with.  In any case, I can’t spend the rest of my life trying to wake them up to the transformational power and pleasure of live theatre.

I also can’t keep anybody safe or let anyone off the hook for the choices they make.  Should you go see such-and-such show?  How should I know?  Art is a very personal thing!  Yes, go, if you feel drawn to the show.  Go see it and form your own opinion!

At the risk of sounding harsh, I don’t care about promoting any individual show, nor about giving feedback to actors and other theatre artists, nor even about providing consumer information.

What I want to do is participate in an on-going, passionate yet courteous conversation with other people that already enjoy the risk.  People that already enjoy going to the theatre and letting it work on them.  People that understand that even if you’re “just sitting there,” being the audience for a live theatre piece is a very active, potentially transformative, thing.

When you’re open to it, you as the audience at a live theatre piece help to create the art by your presence.  When the audience is open and mindful, and the artists are skilled and fully present, and all of the elements come together in the hour or two that the show is on….there is nothing else like it.

So…that’s where I am philosophically in 2012.

‘See you at the theatres!

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

PS – I thank Michael Ries for helping me feel more comfortable getting my picture taken.  I thank Julie Curry for taking my most recent headshot, above, which I added to my blog on August 29, 2008.  I also thank my brother, Ned Baugh, for showing me how to re-size and upload photos to my blog in the first place!

PPS – I thank Zach Rosing for helping me keep my WordPress updated and for installing the automatic spam monitor for my comments box!

©2012 Hope Baugh

61 thoughts on “About the writer”

  1. (Hello in there)Hope –

    It was great to say hello to you face-to-face at the Phoenix on Friday night…did you get the (John Prine) reference above?!

    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your reporting on theatre in and around Indy. Your energy is contagious and encourages my wife and I to get out and attend more offerings….more often.

    Did you enjoy the performance at The Phoenix? I was familiar with John Prine – and, even saw him 5-6 years ago at one of the downtown, outdoor thingies at the Murat – maybe Rib Fest? But, the way his songs were used to tell a cohesive story was very artful and compelling.

    You – keep up the good work! Best Wishes –

    Michael Davidson

  2. Hi, Fran – I sent you an email. I agree the Moby Dick show sounds intriguing!

    Hi, Michael – It was great to meet you, too! I very much appreciate your kind encouragement, both here and in the Phoenix lobby.

    I loved the John Prine show, too. I agree: artful and compelling!

  3. Hi Hope!
    Not sure you’ll remember me but we went to Carmel together. I’ve been involved with Mud Creek Players (86th street & Mud Creek Road, on west side of Geist) for 20 years and am currently directing Becky’s New Car, which opens on Sept 16th. I know that you are not blogging right now. I would just love to reconnect with you and invite you to our barn theater — either as my guest for a performance or just to see the place. You might enjoy being involved. I am guessing you live in Carmel still or in the Indy area. Give me a call if you are interested. 340-4317 is my cell. Warm regards, Nina

  4. The intial listing says you have a job now as a paid theater reviewer. I can’t find a link that tells me more about that. I’d love to know!

    Thanks,

    Patrica

  5. Happy New Year, Hope! We at Actors Theatre of Indiana are starting our tech week for “The Musical of Musicals, the musical” at The Studio Theater at the Center for the Performing Arts with an opening this Friday February 1 and we run through Feb 24. I would love for you to see the show and I would be happy to arrange press tickets for you! It is one heck of a FUNNY show – basically 5 shows all rolled into one! We have Richard J. Roberts (IRT)directing with Brent E. Marty (Civic) music directing and Michael Worcel (Ball State dance faculty) choreographing and Dave Ruark making his ATI stage debut with us and an amazing design team!!! It is really a hoot and a half and I hope you can catch it!
    Best regards,
    Don Farrell

  6. Thanks for the info, Don. I really appreciate it! I no longer make promises to anyone about what I will see, and I no longer accept press tickets but I appreciate the offer. ‘Sounds as if you do have a great team assembled for “The Musical of Musicals, the musical.” Break a leg!

  7. Thanks, Hope! I understand being pulled in so many directions. Thanks for all you do to promote theatre and the arts in Central Indiana! All the best!
    Don

  8. Hope, I wanted to say thank you for coming to see Nocturne. It was a very challenging piece for me and I wish more people would have seen it. Now that I’ve got those 81 pages in my head, I can only hope another theater chooses to do it, so I can maybe try to present it to a larger audience in the future.

  9. Hope,

    This is Nicholas Owens, former Artistic Director of Kenyetta Dance Co. Hope all is well with you!!! I would love for you to come see The Color Purple Musical which I recently choreographed for The Cupboard Presents showing at the Athenaeum Theatre. Only 4 more shows left on Feb 7,8,15 & 16. Please let me know if you would like to come. Thanks naojoker@yahoo.com

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