Tag: Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern

Leading Lady : Mary Ruth Ralston

Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.

For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions. 

We are proud to introduce the next Leading Lady for March 2017: Mary Ruth Ralston

Mary Ruth Ralston is a local Atlanta actor, education artist, fight choreographer, director, and lighting designer.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I work at the Atlanta Shakespeare Company where I am an actor and education artist, as well as sometime fight choreographer, director, and lighting designer.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I grew up in Athens, GA with great exposure to the arts and started dancing at about age 4. I really got into acting and theater my freshman year of high school.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a dancer, marine biologist, and/or Jedi knight.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Ooh, tough one. Right now I think I’d like to sit down and chat with Virginia Wolfe about art, time, culture, and gender. I just read her incredible novel “Orlando”, and I’d like very much to talk with her about it.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My parents. They both worked very hard to encourage my imagination and to instill in me the desire to work hard, improve myself professionally and personally, and do my best to maintain a strong sense of empathy, humor, and ethics.

Mary Ruth Ralston in Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s production of Henry VI.

How is art a passion for you?
It is honestly very difficult for me to imagine not being a performing artist. I feel very strongly that it is what I need to be doing, and it is a career that, although often difficult, is uniquely challenging and rewarding.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I think it’s moving in a great direction. We’re still in a lot of places facing the old problems of lack of complex female characters in plays and lack of female leadership in the arts in general, but I’m seeing more and more women breaking the mold of outdated gender stereotypes and taking charge as directors, writers, and leaders of arts organizations. I know so many amazing women who are becoming cornerstones of the Atlanta arts scene working incredibly hard to push for diversity and intersectionality. Also, being someone whose passion is classical theater, which can be terribly restrictive for women, I’m benefiting a lot personally from the Shakespeare Tavern and other theaters being willing to cast outside the traditional gender binary.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I’ve experienced some really moving displays of cooperative and supportive spirit among Atlanta’s artists. I’ve seen so many of my friends and colleagues encourage, uplift, and celebrate each other’s work. I think we have an amazing community of artists who support each other and enable growth, creativity, and collaboration in our city.

Mary Ruth Ralston (pictured right) shows off her skills in the the famous Hamlet vs. Laertes fight from Fern Theatre’s all female production of Hamlet.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I’m hoping that I get to continue playing parts that are traditionally played by men and encourage out-of-the-box casting in that regard, but I think the most important thing I can do is to keep encouraging students to embrace empathy, passion, and open-mindedness and impart the idea that a career in the arts is not just possible but important and useful.

Collins Goss Talks About Raising Awareness for Atlanta Arts

As you may know, March is National Women’s History Month, and yesterday was International Women’s Day. Last year, C4 Atlanta shared the stories of women arts administrators in our city as part of a project with the National Women’s History Project called “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives”.

C4 Atlanta is excited to curate this blog series for the second year in a row! We will be highlighting women’s stories on our blog and on our social media throughout the month of March and into April. This year we have expanded the project to include the stories of more women and to share a diverse range of experiences, including women nationally as well as locally. Sharing women’s triumphs challenges stereotypes within today’s society and overturns social assumptions about who women are and what women can accomplish.

Collins Goss, Development Manager of Horizon Theatre
Collins Goss, Development Manager of Horizon Theatre

With that being said, we’d love to introduce our next leading lady, Collins Goss.

Where do you work and what do you do? I work as the Development Manager for the Horizon Theatre Company. I am in charge of all of Horizon’s fundraising efforts, including the annual fund, major gifts, foundation grants, government contracts for services, and special events. I also work closely with our Board of Directors, and I do a chunk of the project management work for Horizon’s community-based projects.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? Honestly, I never really had a set goal. Most kids would list teacher, nurse, vet, doctor, but I never had a specific thing that I knew I wanted to do.

Who was your favorite artist/writer/performer growing up? I loved to read growing up, so most of my favorite artists were writers. I could not get enough of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series as a teenager. I really, really loved classic lit like Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, Peter Pan, Little House on the Prairie, etc.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you? I have been so lucky to have had several wonderful influencers and mentors. I had two teachers in high school who blew my world wide open: one was from South Africa and one was from Queens. They somehow ended up teaching in South Georgia where I grew up, and they exposed me to a world much larger than I had known. My biggest influences, though, are definitely my parents. In my completely unbiased opinion, they are the greatest people on earth who give and love unconditionally and who get up every day to make the world better even when it is really hard and no one says thank you. They taught (and still teach) me so many things, but “thank you” was a big one. Everyone is worthy of your attention and gratitude no matter who they are.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work? I took dance lessons from preschool through high school. I wasn’t very good, but I enjoyed it and still enjoy being a dance patron. I got into theatre the way a lot of kids do: my friends in high school were in the one act play and spring musical. I wanted in on the fun too. The alternative was playing basketball or jumping hurdles, and no one wants me to do either one. Yikes. I think I started unofficially working in some aspect of arts admin in high school and just never stopped. I am still not quite sure how that happened.

How is art a passion for you? Art is something that you can enjoy all of your life, and there is always a new show, art form, or artist to discover. The ability to keep discovering is what makes art a passion for me.

What are your thoughts on equality and representation of women in the arts? I work in an office of all women, and this has been the norm in most of my jobs in arts admin. I don’t know if that is typical or not, but I think it is awesome. Working in the arts full time is not easy. The hours can be long and the days frustrating, but women get stuff done and totally defy the odds. 🙂

Horizon Theatre presents Avenue Q to local audiences at Piedmont Park
Horizon Theatre presents Avenue Q to local audiences at Piedmont Park

What in your profession has  given you the greatest satisfaction or fulfillment? Looking back, what would you have done differently? What would you do again? The first thing that comes to mind is working on Theatre in the Park last summer. Horizon produced Avenue Q in Piedmont Park for a five night run in June 2015. That’s right. We produced a full scale Broadway musical outside in the middle of Atlanta in June with 28 puppets, a band, and 11 actors. Most of the tickets were given away for free, and we had more than 7700 people join us in the park that week. Moments like this are the reason I got into this business. All these people from all over the Atlanta area left their houses and Netflix to come outside, sit on a blanket, eat a picnic, and watch puppets sing about growing up and finding their purpose. Would I do it again? Heck yes.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta? Atlanta artists and administrators just make it happen in Atlanta, and their work is amazing. No one seems to take no for an answer, and I think that is pretty cool. There has been a lot of talk about Atlanta’s public art scene, and I am really excited to see what comes out of this. We have tons of space that could benefit from an art intervention: the Little Five Points plaza (Horizon is tackling this one starting in April, so stay tuned!), MARTA stations, and so many more.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community? I would really like to be a part of raising awareness of all the arts offerings in Atlanta and the impact the arts have on our communities. There are several individuals and arts organizations that are committed to advocating for the arts whether it is on the government level, among business leaders, or with individual patrons. I am really excited about an audience development project I am working on with the Atlanta Intown Theatre Partnership (AITP). AITP is made up of Horizon, 7 Stages, Actor’s Express, the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern and Theatrical Outfit, and we are committed to pooling resources and doing things together that we could not do as individual theatres. Currently we want to raise live theatre going as a top of mind thing to do among 20-40 year olds who live/work/play along the Atlanta Beltline. We are still in the very early stages of the project, but I see tremendous potential for success.

Where can I learn more about your organizations and work (websites, social media, etc.)?

www.horizontheatre.com

Twitter: @horizontheatre

Facebook: Horizon Theatre Company

Instagram: @horizontheatre

Little Five Arts Alive Program launching in April 2016: http://www.littlefiveartsalive.com/

Bio?

Collins Goss (Development Manager) joins the Horizon Theatre Company after working for the University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance. At UA Theatre & Dance, she served as the digital communications, marketing, and patron services managers throughout her three years. She has also worked for the Texas Shakespeare Festival and Rose of Athens Theatre in Athens, GA. No matter the location, audience development and communication have been the focus of her work, and she is excited to be a part of the staff and community at the Horizon Theatre. Collins completed her MFA in Theatre Management from the University of Alabama in December and has BA degrees in English and Theatre from the University of Georgia.