Lowell actress Christa Brown is starring in "Two Mile Hollow," which opens this month at Apollinaire Theatre Company in Chelsea. It's an accomplishment Brown credits not just to her passion for theater, but also to her passion for her community.
If Brown could travel back in time and tell her younger self about the level of "independence, freedom and control" she has today, she says younger Christa wouldn't believe her. She largely credits the community of Lowell, where she has lived and worked since 2012, for this.
She thought the college experience, studying theater, was a "one-shot deal" in terms of existing in a truly supportive community, and that she'd never find it again outside of Longwood University in Farmville, Va. But Lowell proved her wrong.
According to Brown, she met the right people at the right time in Lowell. She speaks glowingly and passionately about the sense of community among Lowell residents, especially those in the world of nonprofit, where she has built a career.
"People genuinely want to partner with other organizations and are ready and willing to help," she said.
Brown has worked at a number of interesting places in Lowell, beginning with her first stint out of college at the Boott Cotton Mills as a museum teacher, where she says she really got to put her theater background to use when giving tours and engaging with youth about the history of the mills.
After that, she worked for Girls, Inc., as an outreach coordinator, leading theater workshops as part of the job. Brown said she was impressed with the intentionality of the classes -- for example, how in the math class girls learn about women in STEM fields.
Brown now works for Entrepreneurship For All, creating content for all the organization's sites. Entrepreneurship For All works in midsized cities, accelerating economic and social impact by fueling the dreams and ambitions of entrepreneurs. Brown said Entrepreneurship For All's support of people's dreams and passions extends to their employees. She has shared with her co-workers that she is an actress, something she was reticent to share at times in other work environments.
"When they've seen I enjoy something, they will roll it into the job, trusting me to do more things that align with where my passions are." For example, her theater skills have been put to use when she has con- ducted interviews at events and lead panel discussions. EforAll staff also come out to see her perform on stage.
Brown's friend and fellow actress, Becca Lewis, told her about a role in an upcoming Apollinaire production for which she thought Brown would be perfect. Brown was familiar with the theater company, having seen Lewis in several productions there. She auditioned and was immediately cast.
"Two Mile Hollow," by Japanese-American playwright Leah Nanako Winkler, is a parody of the familiar, wealthy-white-family-who- goes-to-their-beachside- property-and-drama-ensues story line, only this time all of the white characters are played by people of color. Brown said she was excited because she has not gotten to do comedic work in a while. She found herself in a lot of roles where the play was about being black, but this one is different, she said.
"Two Mile Hollow" is running Dec. 21-Jan. 20 To purchase tickets, visit www.apol linairetheatre.com.