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. Hope,
    I like your site…and good for you!
    I am relatively new to theatre (2 years) and get on IA occassionaly. Now, late(r) in life (50’s) I regret that I didn’t get invovled earlier. But I am having a blast, now in the middle of my 8th show in those two years.
    I trust we get a chance to meet sometime. I enjoy reading your Blog!

    Mark Tumey
    (MarkT in IA)
    Currently as the “Phantom” in Belfry’s “Phantom of the Country Opera”

  2. Thanks, Mark, for reading my blog and for leaving a comment! I have regrets, too, but have decided not to dwell on them. (laughing)

    Break a leg with “Phantom of the Country Opera!”

  3. Hi Hope!

    Just wanted you to know I really miss your reviews over at IA, but I’m so glad they’ve found this cozy little spot to nest in now. I hope its working out for you!

    Keep it up,
    Dane

    Oh, are you still coming to see “Six Degrees of Seperation”? Let me know so I don’t suck 😉

  4. Thanks, Dane, for reading my blog and for missing me. It’s all good: I am still on IA conversationally, but I also have, as you said, my own cozy little review nest here, which I love.

    I have a reservation to see “Six Degrees” on Friday night. Does the fact that I will be there mean that you WILL suck or that you won’t?

    (I am sure you won’t, either way.)

    Break a leg! And thanks again for visiting my blog.

  5. Hope,

    Sorry that I missed you Friday night at “ART”. Such great talent.
    It was nice to sit IN the audience and watch a show. After being in 3 in a row, I hadn’t had much of a chance to do that. Also went to Footlite on Sunday to see “Jane Eyre”. Good show with some good talent, but seemed a little long and I had a bit of trouble hearing from my seat. Fantastic costumes. Look forward to meeting you one of these times.
    Mark

  6. I am trying to locate a Nils Nordell who worked for the New York Public Library in the 1960-1970 period. You mention a Nordell is a review. Could it be he? Can you reach him?

    John Hebel

  7. Hi, John. I think the actor in Footlite’s production of “Jane Eyre” is too young to be the person you seek, but I will see what I can find out for you.

  8. Hi, Hope,
    Thanks for thinking me “too young” but yes I did work for the New York Public Library in the last two years of the 60’s. And I know John Hebel but had lost track of him. I only saw this question because of an email from Susan who was also in “Jane Eyre.” Do you have an email to contact him?
    Thanks,
    Nils Nordell (Robert, the butler, “Jane Eyre”)

  9. Hurray! I love happy endings, especially when library staff is involved.

    Nils, I do have John’s email address. I will send it to you privately.

    Thanks, Susan and IA, for your help!

  10. Hope, I always enjoy your heartfelt reviews. Your passion is inspiring. I am honored by your response to IRON KISSES, and was thrilled by your review of WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE although I didn’t know who Amaryllis was at that time — thanks for posting your picture on your blog!

    Constance Macy

  11. Thanks very much, Constance, for reading my blog and for leaving this kind comment here! And for your and ShadowApe’s passion, too!

  12. Hope, I’m continued to be amazed by you. This blog is very cool and I’ll definitely be reading this faithfully. I subscribed to the RSS feed and I look forward to your next review, especially after how much fun the Foreigner review was to read.

  13. Hi Hope.

    Just found your site. I am the Executive Producer of the Mystery Cafe. I have had experience with people who think “interactive theater” is not theater so I am not aware of your views on the subject. Would you be interested in two tickets to experience one of our productions?

    Joe

  14. Actually, I saw it last Saturday night and am working on a blog post about it right now!

    (Short version: I liked it very much.) 🙂

  15. Dear Hope,

    Congratulations on the success of your blog and for all that you do to support the arts in Indiana! I hope that you will be able to check our current offering of THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND now playing at the Pike Performing Arts Center. It only plays till July 20th. If you would like fo me to set up some media tickets for you, just email me and I would be happy to!

    Best regards and keep up the great work you are doing!!!

    Don Farrell

  16. Thanks (again) hope for coming out to support ART. I mean, you are seriously an ART Groupie now. Ha! Seeing it more than one time in its original run defines that! Ha! Your support of our show — and your insightful questions and insights at all the post-show discussions — and your passionate support of the area theatre sector — is truly a blessing — very encouraging for all of us — and we always enjoy hearing what you have to say! Thanks so much for your open spirit and enthusiasm! Enjoy your creative journey — and I HOPE to you see at the next show, Hope! Later alligator! ~ Earl

  17. Thank YOU, Earl, for reading my blog and leaving such an encouraging comment! And for being willing to take “Art” on the road. I loved seeing it a third time but in a new venue. I will post a review of the closing performance soon.

  18. Hi Hope! love your site. I think the idea of having a storytelling event titled, “Then a week before we opened…” is a GREAT idea!! =)

  19. Thanks very much, Molly, for reading my blog and for your kind comment.

    Maybe the new Spotlight space will be a good place to host such a swap!

  20. Are you planning to go to Theater on The Square to see “The Very Merry Unauthorized Childrens Scientology Pageant”? I am interested in your review of the show….

  21. Hi, Annie. Thanks for your interest! I am planning to see “The Very Merry…” but am not sure, yet, which performance.

    If you are involved with the show, break a leg!

  22. Hope!

    What a pleasure working with you the other day! You are a delight.
    I am so glad your “voice” is out in the theatre community.
    It is greatly needed and appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Julie Curry

  23. THANK YOU!

    That was a very thoughtful an kind review of my show. I enjoyed reading your thoughts, and would love to have you at performances in the future if the opportunity presents itself!

    Kindest Regards,
    Jared

  24. Hey, you’re welcome, Jared. Thank YOU for a fun magic show! Feel free to put me on your mailing list for future shows: amarylliswriter at gmail dot come.

  25. Hope – thank you so much for ALL the hard work you do seeing so many shows in Indy and reviewing them. I have found them to be a pleasure to read – insightful and honest. You are a terrific asset to our growing community!

    All the best.

  26. Hi, Hope. I’m the guy you sat next to @ Myers Dinner Theater to see South Pacific. It was nice meeting you. And I’m intrigued by the website/blog. Hope to see more of it.

  27. Hi, Jack! It was nice meeting you, too.

    It will be a few days before I complete my post about “South Pacific” at Myers Dinner Theatre. It takes me a minimum of four hours to write each review, and I usually write them in the order that I saw the shows. I need to write about seeing “The Sound of Music” at Beef’n’Boards first, but after that I will write about seeing “South Pacific.”

    Thanks for reading my blog and for leaving a comment!

  28. Great article on Hollenbeck. If he writes a book I would love to share my stories of Costume World and Marilyn Wick. Even though it has been a couple of years sine my costume world breakdown from some of the people who are still there and I talk to from time to time the stories are not only funny but to many are heartbreaking when you work for Costume World!!

  29. Hi Hope!
    Thank you for the wonderful review on our last season’s production of AND THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND. We are currently in rehearsal for FORBIDDEN BROADWAY, a hilarious parody on every Broadway classic you can think of. I think you would enjoy it. We are having an invited preview on April 1st and would love to have you as our guest. Please contact me and I will send you our press release.

    Thanks again!

    Cynthia Collins, Co-Founder
    Actors Theatre of Indiana

  30. Thanks, Troy, for the suggestions! I think the “Married2Magic” magicians in your first link performed at the Indy Fringe Festival in 2007 and/or 2008. Unfortunately, I was not able to catch their act. Maybe this year!

    The name “Daniel Lusk” (from your second link) sounds familiar, but I am 99% sure I have not actually seen him perform. I’ll watch for him.

    I have trouble getting to all of the regular theatre shows, let alone comedy, dance, and magic shows, but I do my best. In any case, I always appreciate hearing suggestions on what to see.

    Thanks, again!

  31. Hey Hope…………….I just wanted to say hi.
    Don’t know if you remember me I was in that same Thespian Troupe years ago.
    Enjoy your reviews!
    Carla

  32. Hi, Carla! It’s great to hear from you! I remember you not only from our high school Thespian Troupe but also from your fabulous performance in “Graceland” at the Phoenix Theatre years ago. Thank you for reading my blog and leaving a comment!

    What are you up to now?

    By the way, your leaving a comment here on my “About the Reviewer” page reminded me that I needed to update it, so I did. Thanks for that, too!

  33. Hello Carla.
    I loved watching “Evita”. It was awesome. I don’t remember marble vaults and the staircase, bar, chairs, etc. looked like standard props. The show was excellent. I was very impressed. Eva, Che, and Juan were a hit for the standing ovation that all received. Great theatrical experience.
    Best Regards.
    Sharon

  34. Hi Hope,

    Just wanted to say it was my pleasure to accommodate you to see A Christmas Carol and am glad you enjoyed the show, I only wish I had known of the option to watch from the Observation Booth like Molly had suggested. I do hope you go and see Love Letters (It is a wonderful production, in which Patrick Clear and Priscilla Lindsay transcend that which is on the page onto the stage), and if you do decide to attend please let me know in advance so I can personally make arrangements here in the ticket office, it would be my pleasure. I enjoyed reading your blog and will make sure I follow up on your writing and blogging. Thanks for the kind words. I hope the show helped remedy the writers block that we all suffer from, from time to time.

    Cheers,

    Daniel Hoffman

  35. Hi, Daniel! Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment! Thanks, too, for your excellent help at the Ticket Office the other day. Talking with you helped my writers’ block, too. ‘See you at th theatre!

  36. Hope, I just read your review about “80 Days.” I didn’t realize until this week that I had seen one of the actors before! Jeff Cumings spent several seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I know why you developed a crush on him! I saw him as the lead in “The Importance of Being Earnest.” A talented man.

  37. I would have loved to have seen him in that show, too, I bet! Thanks for reading and commenting, Jenny.

    (And thanks, Ken, too. I just realized that I never commented back to thank you for the compliment. ‘Sorry!)

  38. Hi Hope,

    Would you by chance be going to Moby Dick Tonight at the IndyFringe Theatre, May 22/Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m.? I did like to go but not alone. Ellen & company are going on Friday & I’m seeing Patsy Cline then.
    Fran

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