All Over Albany 04-30-2009

Source: All Over Albany

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Brenny Rabine’s life in the theater

This is her first appearance at Capital Rep.

Pretty much anytime we go to a theater in the Capital Region these days, the name Brenny Rabine comes up.

Brenny has been working as an actor, playwright, producer, teacher and actor in the Capital Region for years. Not in addition to her day job — the arts are her day job.

And her night job.

These days Brenny can be seen in Capital Rep’s production of Boston Marriage. She took a little time before getting into make-up to talk to AOA about life upon the wicked stage and how she manages to make a living as an actor in the Capital Region.

Why did you choose to live in the Capital Region?

I grew up in the Capital Region — in South Glens Falls. After college I lived in New York City for a few years and worked in the theater. And there were times when I ate Kraft Macaroni and Cheese because that week I could afford the milk (laughs).

Then I remember seeing this woman who was expecting a baby and hearing people — strangers around her — making these comments to her and she seemed so exposed and vulnerable to me.

That made me so uncomfortable. I started to think. I was sooo young, but I always knew I wanted a child. So I moved back.

Can an actor or performing artist make a living in the Capital Region?

If you broaden your idea of what constitutes being an artist, I think you can make a living. But you have to broaden what it means.

I had my son, Nolan — he’s ten years old now and I’m just getting back to auditioning after about 10 years. I just found I didn’t want to be away from him long enough to do a lot of theater.

But in that time I’ve done a lot of things to make a living in the arts. I’ve written plays and produced plays. I’m a teacher. I work with a group of very talented and dedicated high school seniors through the New Visions Theatre Arts for the Warren-Saratoga-Washington-Hamilton-Essex BOCES.

Through the Adirondack Theater Festival I’ve been working with a group of sixth graders who have written plays about heros. I’m bringing actors in from New York to perform the plays written by these kids.

I’ve also been doing a lot of improv with Mop and Bucket. That’s really my home base right now. I met Kat Koppett when she came to a staged reading of a play I wrote. It was a first reading so I could get an idea of how it sounded and how it worked. I loved her comments and we became great friends. Now I do a lot of work with Koppett and Company training business people on how to perform in the various stages in their lives.

Then this summer I’ll be in “Old Love” at The Lake George Dinner Theater all summer.

You’ve got to be flexible. But then, that’s the case wherever you live if you’re in the arts. I’ve been lucky, I haven’t had to wait tables to support myself, but I would if I needed to.

What is the “scene” like for actors here in the Capital Region? Is it better than it used to be? Are there more opportunities?

I’m not sure I can speak to how it used to be, because I didn’t grow up steeped in theater and the arts. My mother was always very supportive of me, but I had to go out and find theater myself. I was taking off my parents Conway Twitty albums to play Evita.

But I do get the sense that it’s changing. I see my friends, and people that I’m working with, and they’re working in theater and film and improv and coming up with all sorts of creative projects. We’ve got such an artistic and fascinating and funky culture here in the Capital Region. There’s so much going on.

Yes, but do people outside the artists and performers know about it?

If they don’t, it’s not from a lack of trying. Still, I don’t think artists tell this story well. More people attend professional entertainment every year than attend professional sports. Locally I open Metroland and see that NYSTI opened a show this week and Cap Rep opened a show and there are all kinds of listings for theater and films.

I think people are afraid to try something new, but Maggie (Cahill) at Capital Rep offers pay-what-you-will nights and all sorts of deals to make theater more affordable.

If you think about it, you’re taking a chance every time you go see a movie.

What’s the inside track on the must see theater? If people are going try something new, who is doing work they should check out?

Capital Rep is always stretching and they do lots of interesting things. I’ve been impressed by StageWorks Hudson. The Adirondack Theater Festival in Glens Falls is wonderful, professional theater — and they’ve done so much to revitalize the downtown there. Dorset Theatre Festival and Lake George Dinner Theater — especially this year, with the Regional Premiere of Norm Foster’s “Old Love,” with ME (hee hee).

And right now you’re in Boston Marriage…

I’m playing the maid. It’s a wonderful show. I’m in love with the dialogue! It’s smart and witty. And it may take place in Victorian England, but these are definitely David Mamet characters! They’re people who love each other and will do whatever they have
to do to stay together. It’s a wonderful play.

What’s the best part of living in the Capital Region?

Ohhhh… the seasons. And I live in Saratoga Springs so now my husband and I will take these “urban hikes.” We can walk all over the city, visit with our neighbors, take a walk to a wonderful restaurant and still have the sounds of the crickets and the stars in the sky in our backyard.

What are we missing here that you wish we had?

(long pause)…..ohhhhhh you know I’m so happy living here right now… I can’t think of much. But maybe… a butterfly conservatory. I love those things, ha!

Photo at top: Brenny Rabine
Production photo: Capital Rep

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