Amanda Conlon is a transplant from the East Coast. From working at local community theatres on Long Island, she went onto study musical theatre at the State University of New York at Geneseo. It was there she discovered her love for directing and helmed several mainstage productions. Following graduation, she pursued acting, however the desire to direct eventually led her to take the reins on several productions in New York City before moving to Los Angeles, where she created Bucket List Theatre. Playbill.com talks with the company’s artistic director about the company’s mission and plans for the future.
Los Angeles has a thriving theatre scene, but it’s still mainly known as a film-and-TV town. Why start another theatre company here?
Amanda Conlon: Los Angeles is definitely a film-and-TV town, but there are also a ton of theatres here of all shapes and sizes. I wanted to start this theatre group to create a new community of theatre friends. Today’s day and age is all about creating opportunities for yourself—and if I can create them for myself and other actors who are seeking that same outlet, even better!
Where does the name Bucket List come from?
Many people have “bucket lists” of places they want to travel to or things they want to experience. I have a bucket list of shows I’d like to do in my lifetime, hence Bucket List Theatre.
Can you tell us some of the shows on the official bucket list?
All in the Timing [by David Ives] was the first show we checked off of our bucket list. The top of the current list includes plays from Christopher Durang, Theresa Rebeck, and David Sedaris. There are also several musicals that we’re very excited about; and one glorious day, when we have the resources available to us, we hope to mount the pièce de résistance of farce, Noises Off! We are always adding to our list, and every actor we work with comes with their own bucket list, so we are also very open to ideas. We can say the list is extensive enough that we are already beginning the process of putting together our 2018 season.
What makes a piece worthy of being on Bucket List’s bucket list?
We want to make our actors’ bucket list shows come to life to not only allow them to check that role [and/or] show off of their list—which was the case for more than half of our All in the Timing cast—but also to create an amazing energy between the cast and the audience. Currently, we are focusing on more comedic material because, when given the choice, we’d rather make people laugh than cry. That’s not to say we won’t sink our teeth into more dramatic material as we go along. Basically, if it’s a good show that excites us, it can make the list.
Is Bucket List a member company or one that will hold auditions for each show?
While we do not have official members, one of our main goals is to create and foster a community of actors and creatives that want to be a part of the Bucket List family and whom we can work with time and time again.
Since you’re not a member company, how do you typically cast your shows?
We want to always keep the casting of our shows flexible, as auditions allow us to get to know so many talented actors. Typically, our casting process is a mix of bringing on actors we have previously worked with, holding auditions, and hosting informal readings to hear plays read aloud. We’ve been treating these readings as a testing ground for us to determine which shows we want to produce and to gauge which shows our actors are excited about. The readings have also been a great outlet for us to bring in actors whom we like but haven’t yet found the right show to cast them in. It’s just so much fun to read plays with a group of talented actors. We’ve been having a lot of delightful laugh-filled nights.
As artistic director, do you also serve as director for your productions?
I am directing the 2017 season. However, as we move forward, we will be looking to bring on other directors to help collaborate on future productions.
You’ve just announced your season, after mounting a successful first show this summer at the Complex. Can you tell us a little about what’s in store?
We have a great lineup planned for this year! We are mounting three productions. We will enter the hilariously terrifying world of child beauty pageants in Pageant Play by Matthew Wilkas and Mark Setlock. Then we will be part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, debuting the world premiere of missmatch, an online dating multimedia musical parody written by yours truly. We will round out our season with the wild and crazy Wonder of the World by David Lindsay-Abaire. Outside of the season, and as we continue to grow, we’d like to incorporate a staged reading series as well. We are also excited to start this season at our new home, the Let Live Theatre at The Actors Company.
How can people get involved with the company either to audition or participate in one of your table reads?
Just reach out to us via email or social media! Our contact information is on our website. We love hearing from new people, whether they’d like to be on stage or behind the scenes.