52 Faces: Hometown curtain rises for Laborman [The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa]
(Hawk Eye, The (Burlington, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 27--Some theaters are non-profit. Others are for-profit. So far, the one Bradley Laborman runs in downtown Mount Pleasant can best be described as no-profit.
He puts food on his table by helping local businesses with social media marketing.
Sometimes, though, he said, the money he makes goes right back into WeAct Youth Theatre of Iowa, a year-old youth theater project for southeast Iowa children and teens. It has mean going without supper, or a cellphone.
But that's OK by Laborman.
"Things started happening. I woke up and I was Twitter verified." Bradley Laborman, WeAct Theater Iowa owner
"If I wanted to be rich," he said, "I wouldn't be working in a kids' theater. In all honesty, I love it. I can't stop."
The 39-year-old Laborman graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1993, then attended Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, where he majored in theater, mass communication and English.
At Mount Pleasant, Laborman said, he never had anything more than bit parts in school productions. But once he got to college, that changed, and lead roles started coming his way.
Following a stint with the Old Creamery Theater in the Amanas, Laborman moved to Iowa City, where he went to work for the local cable system, doing public relations for public access programming.
He also landed a weekly show on KCJJ, an Iowa City AM station, and for seven years, he had a public access talk/call-in show, "Tonight with Bradman." One of his proudest moments with the show was its live coverage of the tornado that hit Iowa City in 2006.
Footage from that night wound up on all the major networks, Laborman said.
That led to some recognition beyond Iowa City, and the suggestion of a YouTube channel. Clips of some of the best bits from the show were posted online at a channel called "BradmanTV." From the channel came a Web show on Ustream.com and other sites.
"Things started happening. I woke up and I was Twitter verified," Laborman said, referring to celebrity accounts that are verified by Twitter as belonging to the person whose name is on the account. "I joke I slept with the girl from Twitter."
Laborman, who has 23,000 Twitter followers, made some celebrity friends as a result, he said. He and Alyssa Milano, star of "Who's the Boss?" and "Charmed," "tweet back and forth."
Debbie Gibson, the 1980s teen pop star, and the actress Rosario Dawson, have tweeted in support of WeAct Theatre's participation in the Dream Big, Grow Here Iowa small business grant contest that now is under way for 2013, Laborman said.
Giving up the TV show but maintaining the Web show, Laborman moved back to Mount Pleasant, where he sponsored a social media seminar -- the Iowa Tech and Social Media Interactive Conference, or IowaTASMIC for short, in 2009 -- featuring professional he met in New York.
A website he created -- a YouTube-based breakup site called IDump4U.com -- got noticed by someone in the television industry, which led Laborman to New York City, where he spent time trying to pitch a show based on the site.
That ultimately didn't go anywhere, and the website recently was sold, he said, but Laborman said he made a lot of connections, and plenty of friends, too, before returning home again to Mount Pleasant.
He also built up his social media resume in New York; experience that he uses back home.
"I continue to do what I did there," Laborman said, adding his work locally lacked the "New York prices." He also works on a barter system basis at times, taking services -- such as a tab at a restaurant -- instead of sending a bill.
That's the job. The dream is the theater, which Laborman has run for the past year in a converted storefront on North Jefferson Street, just off the square in downtown Mount Pleasant.
At WeAct, which held auditions last week for a December production of the musical version of "The Wizard of Oz," Laborman not only provides coaching for aspiring young actors, he also gives them a place to learn.
The theater has a stage and seating for 48. The three-day run of "Oz" will be performed at the Mount Pleasant Civic Center.
Classes have covered concepts like stand-up comedy, improvisational acting, making videos for YouTube, puppet theater, basic theater training, sketch writing and likely will expand to stage makeup and prop building.
A three-week theater camp was offered last summer.
Parents pay a fee for each class, a buy memberships that saves them money over the course of a year for regular participants.
Laborman said he supports non-profit theaters, but being one would mean having to deal with a board of directors. And since such a board likely would be occupied by parents, politics could affect who gets what roles.
"It happens a lot of places," he said.
By managing it independently, Laborman said he is free to make casting decision based entirely on talent.
The theater also is a model business for his approach to coaching other businesses on social media marketing, with promotion centered mainly on Facebook through a page dedicated to the theater, and inviting parents in to take pictures and dress rehearsals so they can promote events their children are in.
Laborman, who plans to relaunch his BradmanTV channel on YouTube and is working on an anniversary show for "Tonight with Bradman," said he once spent a lot of time fighting the fact he came from a small town.
It is a fight he has given up, a fact he is trying to convince local bankers of so he can buy the building where the theater is located.
"It's not bad to be from a small town," Laborman said. "Sometimes, a small town outweighs a big city."
Don't be just a face in the crowd. Be one of the 52 Faces, appearing each Sunday in The Hawk Eye. Everybody has a story to tell. Share yours or nominate someone you know. Email your suggestion to 52Faces@thehawkeye.com, or call features editor Craig T. Neises at (319) 758-8148.
(c)2013 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)
Visit The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) at www.thehawkeye.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]