Life Love&Stories


June 24, 2015

I believe that home is whatever, or wherever, we consider it to be for ourselves. And although I don’t say it often enough, I’m grateful to call Phoenix one of my many homes. I’m thankful that I grew up in this city, where everything seems to be growing. Local restaurants and coffeeshops are constantly cropping up, new up-and-coming politicians are speaking up daily, and our artistic community is blossoming into something brilliant.

I’m very fortunate to have many different communities of people here in Phoenix that I feel connected to, especially in the arts. Specifically speaking, I feel most at home at both Space 55 and Brelby Theatre Company. In many ways, both of these amazing theatres found me before I found them.

Space 55 was created by Shawna Franks, an actress originally based in Chicago. When I was a freshman in high school, I performed at Space for the first time with a troupe called The Arcana Collective (run by Ernesto Moncada). We performed a short piece about the summer solstice for one of Space’s 7 Minutes in Heaven shows. I fell in love with the place and never left. Since that day, I’ve performed in more 7 Minute shows and late night series than I can count, a few of my favorites being a ukulele bit with my sister and a fairytale show that Arcana put on. I also have had the chance to be part of many staged readings and mainstage shows, including Night of the Chicken 3 (By Carrie Behrens) which is a made-for-stage radio show.

Me as Bitzi in Night of the Chicken 3 (2013)

Me as Bitzi in Night of the Chicken 3 (2013)

Kevin Patterson and me in a 7 Minutes scene (2015)

Kevin Patterson and me in a 7 Minutes scene (2015)

In short, Space 55 became my home before I even knew that theatre was what I wanted to seriously pursue. I’ve made more connections through that theatre than I could ever dream of, and I carry with me memories, jokes, and a million life lessons that the artists there have taught me. I can’t think of Phoenix, my childhood, theatre, or family without thinking of Space.

Brelby Theatre Company is a place I encountered later on in my journey, but one that means just as much to me. Through a friend of mine from Space, I found myself on Brelby’s doorstep, stumbling my way through an audition (easily one of my roughest to date), and somewhat miraculously landing the role of Evil Gabi in She Kills Monsters. Soon after, I found myself in the world of Brelby. Brelby was created by Shelby and Brian Maticic, a local couple passionate about theatre, community, and creation. It was at this theatre that I believe I learned what it truly means to be an ensemble and to jump into things that I’m afraid of (like cartwheeling, for instance). I’m happy to say that since my first show there a year ago, I’m back again working on even more amazing things– including our upcoming show Beyond Musketeers!

April Rideout and me as Evil Cheerleaders in She Kills Monsters (2014)

April Rideout and me in She Kills Monsters (2014)

Rehearsal shot during Beyond Musketeers (that's me on the platform on the righthand side!)

Rehearsal shot during Beyond Musketeers (that’s me on the platform on the righthand side!)

I love both Space 55 and Brelby more than I can articulately express here. These two theatres have shaped me not only as a performer, but also as a person. I’m grateful for the opportunities they have given me, and thankful for the faith the two companies have/had in me. I am a lucky, lucky woman to have not only one, but two theatres to come home to.

Xo, Willa

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