me­gan burns

Let­ting young en­ergy in

Pasatiempo - - Young Artists - — Craig Smith

If you wanted to find some­one who is an ac­tive singer-song­writer, busy di­rec­tor, and in­volved artis­tic-col­lec­tive mem­ber— and who hap­pens to project a strong, some­times gaudy, and al­ways prob­ing in­sight into all those ac­tiv­i­ties— you wouldn’t have to look fur­ther than 24-yearold Santa Fe res­i­dent Me­gan Burns.

A na­tive norteña who has lived hither and yon but cho­sen to keep her roots here, Burns rep­re­sents the kind of mul­ti­fac­eted yet com­mit­ted ap­proach to cre­ativ­ity that char­ac­ter­izes youth­ful en­thu­si­asm. And for Burns, that en­thu­si­asm hasn’t been up­set by the chal­lenges of be­ing an ac­tive artist in the fairly re­stricted sphere of Santa Fe.

“I am Flamingo Pink, a song­writer. I am as­so­ciate di­rec­tor for Santa Fe Per­form­ing Arts. And I am co-founder of [artist col­lec­tive] Me­owWolf,” Burns said when asked for a pré­cis of her ré­sumé. “I don’t make a liv­ing here as an ac­tor, but I do make a liv­ing as a di­rec­tor, and I think I’m un­usual in that sense.

“I was born in Los Alamos, but we moved to Santa Fe when I was 2; I was raised here. I went to Santa FeWal­dorf School, where the fo­cus was on art and cre­ation and ex­pres­sion, and I kind of main­tained that de­sire through my high school and teen years.” That was help­ful, she added, in terms of build­ing a strong back­ground in var­i­ous the­atri­cal dis­ci­plines, without be­ing dis­tracted by other pur­suits. Cer­tainly she took no hia­tus from her art out of over-busy­ness or bore­dom: rather, she kept ob­serv­ing and learn­ing.

Santa Fe’s artis­tic slopes are lit­tered with the car­casses of the­ater groups huge and tiny that have died off over the decades, but Burns said that she had no con­flicts about stay­ing in a place that’s no­to­ri­ously tough for the­ater. “I did some trav­el­ing, but I liked the pace here, and I think it’s the most beau­ti­ful place to live in that I’ve ever seen. I love work­ing with th­ese tal­ented, creative young peo­ple at SFPA, and my work all around makes it pos­si­ble to feel part of a fan­tas­tic com­mu­nity here.” Sure, a big city might of­fer more op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges, she con­ceded, but do­ing the best work she can in a place she loves makes up for a lot of the siren lure of Los An­ge­les or Chicago or New York.

“I re­ally do like the fam­ily feel­ing of work­ing in Santa Fe,” she said. “I feel I’m part of the com­mu­nity with the chil­dren; I feel part of the fam­ily ex­pe­ri­ence with young peo­ple and with my friends and peers — peo­ple I cre­ate with.” Even though they live rather in one an­other’s pock­ets, as creative folk of­ten do, there haven’t been many in­stances of 3 a.m. calls to an­nounce, “I fig­ured out how to do that big scene!” Not a prob­lem, Burns laughed, “in th­ese days of e-mail.”

As Flamingo Pink, Burns writes orig­i­nal songs and per­forms them to her own acous­tic-gui­tar ac­com­pa­ni­ment. She termed her com­po­si­tional-per­for­mance ap­proach to be “my lit­tle lul­la­bies, play­ing in depth into me­taphors. I don’t do cov­ers.” Does she feel like part of what we might call the cof­fee­house line that be­gan with the Beat gen­er­a­tion— where deep phi­los­o­phy is re­flected equally in in­tro­spec­tive and rant­ing out­put? Yes, she said, with an em­pha­sis on in­tro­spec­tion— mak­ing peo­ple think and feel with sim­plic­ity rather than over­pow­er­ing them with man­i­festos.

As an ac­tor, she be­gan right out of the box when Santa Fe Per­form­ing Arts took her on as an in­tern when she was still in high school. Her train­ing has all been in that prac­ti­cal school of sim­ply go­ing on­stage and act­ing—“I’d rather learn just by do­ing”— but­tressed by her own read­ing and dis­cus­sion with men­tors and peers about the art and craft of the­ater. She’s done some work at both SFPA and Santa Fe Play­house, but her paid pro­fes­sional work has been in many shows atWare­house 21.

When it comes to pin­ning down spe­cific the­ater projects, Burns listed sev­eral things. “With Santa Fe Per­form­ing Arts, on a four­month project, I prob­a­bly work six to 10 hours a week with the kids ac­tu­ally on­stage, but at the same time, there is a lot of read­ing the script, defin­ing the script. I have a lot of out­side time with Meow Wolf; we have a the­ater pro­duc­tion at Ware­house 21 in 2010, so it’s tak­ing a lot of en­ergy from us. We do read­ings three times a week, and we’re writ­ing the script from the bot­tom up!” On the other hand, “Re­ally es­ti­mat­ing time is hard, be­cause I try to love my life as an ac­tor and di­rec­tor.”

Hav­ing watched Santa Fe the­ater over two decades, does she think things are bet­ter or worse now? “I think it’s got­ten bet­ter. I think there is prob­a­bly more of the young artist sub­cul­ture now, with creative com­mu­ni­ties like High May­hem, Me­owWolf, Ware­house 21, and oth­ers.” On the other hand, she also won­ders if Santa Fe the­atri­cal founders don’t tend to hang onto their or­ga­ni­za­tion and ideas even when it’s time to think of mov­ing on.

“I think peo­ple who start up lit­tle busi­nesses, lit­tle the­aters, and run them— it’s im­por­tant for them, at a cer­tain point, to al­low young mo­ti­vated peo­ple to come in and be in­volved. We can’t hold onto that ini­tial en­ergy for­ever. When you get to the point where you try to pro­tect your busi­ness, keep it where it was rather than see what it might be­come, you’re in trou­ble. The­ater is one of the most beau­ti­ful forms of art. You need to keep lis­ten­ing to it, feel­ing it, and let­ting young en­ergy in.”

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