Adobuere Ebiama is talented and she knows it. She knows some other talented people from her native Dorchester too, like actress Gabriella Ciambrone. The two attended The Boston Arts Academy together. After a few years of ups and downs in the Boston theater scene, Ebiama decided she couldn’t wait around to be “discovered.” She has passion, skills, training and a network and that should be enough to start making the kind of theater she wanted work on and to see. She took her vision to Gabriella and together they founded Can’t Wait Productions.
Now in production for their first full season, the mission of Can’t Wait is to showcase local talent, tell the stories of the underrepresented and draw audiences of the kinds of people Ebiama and Ciambrone grew up with—people who may not have had the means or the inspiration to sit in the plush seats of the established Boston theaters where they might have been deeply moved.
Ebiama spoke to Blast about her “Can’t Wait” epiphany and the company’ s first season.
BLAST: So what made you decide to strike out on your own?
EBIAMA: I think it was part of my impatience…
BLAST: Hence the name of the company?
EBIAMA: Yeah, (laughs) Can’t Wait Productions. A lot of artists, especially actors and performers, have this idea that I’m going to go to this specific city, like New York or L.A., and I’m going to make it—someone’s going to discover me—and they’re waiting for the right time and the right person to do something. I think that a lot of times talent gets wasted in the wait, because you could sit around waiting forever for someone to find you, and to figure out how special you are as an artist, but I prefer to create the opportunity for myself. I’ve had this energy for a while now and not known what to do with it because I’m waiting to use it for a show. I should be using it all the time.
Of course I’m still auditioning. I’m still sending out headshots–all that jazz. But I don’t feel like I’m lying dormant, waiting for someone else to take control of my career. I feel like Can’t Wait Productions wants to make that theme apparent—that you can take control of you own career. I want to do the work that I want to see. When I’m looking for castings and that sort of thing, a lot of the same type of shows are being produced—and there are so many things, so many ideas that I have for the kinds of things that should be produced but are not.
BLAST: Like what?
EBIAMA: I grew up in Dorchester and the people that I know, their stories aren’t being told. I’d like to go to the theater and feel like I can relate to what I’m seeing more rather than feeling so detached.
BLAST: What kinds of stories?
EBIAMA: Stories of inner city. Stories of people of color that aren’t always tragic. Stories of Boston. There’s a chunk of people like me who just aren’t being represented enough.
BLAST: So are you looking for a lot of new works?
EBIAMA: We would like to use original works for Can’t Wait Productions because there are a lot of artists out there and a lot of new playwrights that have something to say in Boston and we would like to give them an opportunity to use our stage to tell their stories and that’s what we’re doing with our first season. They’re all original plays written by three women from Boston.
Another part of it is I really want to give actors in Boston who at least don’t know how to get themselves started, a foot in the door—maybe try to cast some actors who maybe haven’t been in too many shows—but are of course still right for the characters—give them that opportunity.
EBIAMA: Well the first play is The Inside by Tasia Jones and Lydia R. Diamond. That’s about a 23-year-old black college student. It’s a one-woman show and she’ kind navigating her way through a post-collegiate party. [It’s] her inner monologue and her inner thoughts about the relationships that she has: her past relationships with men, her present friendships. It’s kind of like some of the things we all think about when we’re in our early 20’s and walking through a party… just observing and analyzing why you’re in these relationships, the people around you, and seeing how that effects you personally. It’s funny. And it’s interactive which I love. It breaks that third wall with the audience.
The second show is set for June. It’s by Paloma Venezuela. It’s called “Show Up.” Paloma is a good friend, who’s teaching in the D.R. right now. She went to school with Gabriella and I at Boston Arts Academy. She also went to Emerson. She’s an amazing playwright and screenwriter.
[“Show Up” is] about what would happen if all of the video vixens in these music videos that we see every day—if they dissapear. So it’s a comedy but it also has this underlying drama. Because it’s so easy every day to just—you watch television and it’s easy to see these women and have a certain perception of who they are based on how they dance and what they look like, but what she’s done is created a play [which] takes on their role and their understanding and their opinions and thoughts as women in these videos. So it’s entertaining, and it’s fun, and it’s light, but it also has some very specific opinions. We’re using multimedia in the piece.
EBIAMA: Video and music—we’re hoping to have an original soundtrack of Boston musicians. So that’s “Show Up.” I’m thinking of directing that myself. We’ll see.
The last play is “Wednesday Double by Gabriella Ciambrone, our co-founder. She’s been working on this piece for a while. It’s about another young college student. A beautiful young waitress/bartender. And it’s set in this little café—this lounge where she’s constantly having to dismiss advances from patrons. [It’s about] how she’s working her way through school and the relationship between her and her customers. It touches on sexual harassment, what’s ok, what’s not ok—does she want this attention?
So the overall theme for this season, which kind of happened by accident, is the inner thoughts of women. These are women from Boston so I think people from Boston can relate. Sometimes you think to yourself, “is anyone else thinking about this?”
BLAST: Who do you think your audience will be. Do you have a target?
EBIAMA: Well because we’d like to do the shows in Dorchester we really want the people that we grew up with to see the shows. We’d really like to get people 20-30.We want young people in our community to come out and see what we’re doing. That there is a way to channel your artistic energy toward something that you enjoy—we want to show the community that we are two 24-year-olds who created this company, and we want to bring art to you. You don’t have to troop all the way to Downtown Boston to see a good show. We can bring good theater to you, and you can come, and you don’t have to pay $30 for a ticket, and it can be good.
BLAST: What do you think theater can do for the community?
EBIAMA: I think it can give you a way to really channel your energy into something positive. I don’t know what I would be doing with all of this time and energy that I have spent organizing Can’t Wait Productions if I wasn’t doing it. I think a lot of times when people don’t know what to do with themselves they do—a lot of other things—reckless things, you know? When you have something positive you’re working toward—even if you don’t end up doing it for the rest of your life…at least your exercising your mind in some way.
Theater opens up so many great conversations. If you see a great play you could be talking about it for days or weeks, it could open up political discussions or social ideas. I think a lot of times communities—I mean I’m not a politican or a psychologist or anything—but I think a lot of times in communities, at least where I grew up, people don’t talk about things. They don’t know who to take their ideas to. But I think if you create a base, and a foundation and a presence, rather than them feeling so separate form it, it will create a positive impact.
And it can be entertaining. It doesn’t have to be that deep. It can just be a place that you come on the weekends and you know that the company is there and they’ll bring you a great show and it’ll make your night.