Broadway's most profitable year in history was 2005. Here in Albuquerque, 2005 saw the first full year of Sol Arts' current, permanent location at 712 Central SE. The scrappy project has come a long way. In 2001, Sol Arts' first show took place in a parking lot on Second Street. There, amid the trapeze performers and women eating fire, Sol Arts introduced its particular brand of live theater to Albuquerque.
I was fortunate enough to catch Laira Morgan, founding member and member of the Board of Directors for Sol Arts, between acting and directing and creating (and whatever else she has her hands full with) to discuss the history of Sol Arts and the importance of live theater in our community.
What was the initial motivation in starting Sol Arts?
I think we all felt there was a lack of something important in Albuquerque—a place that was open to all artists. We really liked the idea of having a multimedia approach; a place where actors, dancers, musicians and visual artists would all feel welcome to come in and create something. I think our mission statement really says it all. "Sol Arts is a visual and performing arts learning collaborative created to nourish the imaginations, celebrate the diversity and produce the creative acts of the community."
What is the importance of live theater?
I heard an interview with Lynn Redgrave on the radio the other night, and she was talking about her fight against breast cancer. She was performing onstage in New York while she was going through chemo and radiation, and she said whatever pain she was in, the moment she walked onstage, it all disappeared. Live theater is a chance at transformation for the performers and the audience, and they go through it together, at the exact same time. Audience members participate in a performance as much as the actors do; we all work together to create a new place. And I think often that place can be very healing, personally and communally.
If you could move Sol Arts forward, not considering restraints of any kind, what would you do?
One of the things I love about Sol Arts is that we do produce and perform a ton of original work. I think the biggest restraint we have right now is budgetary, so, for me, it would be having unlimited funds to do the new stuff with truly professional production values. Don't get me wrong, though. There is something wonderful about having restraints, too. It forces so much more creativity, and makes you work that much harder.
Oscar Wilde said, "I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being." Thankfully, Sol Arts provides Albuquerque the outlet to experience the immediacy and human interaction of live theater from a group of true believers.
What productions are you looking forward to in the future?
I'm really excited about the show I'm in that opens Jan. 27, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress. It's being directed by Bradd Howard, one of our fellow board members, and it was written by Alan Ball (American Beauty, "Six Feet Under") whom I love!