We had the good fortune of connecting with April Sigman-Marx and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi April, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
In 2019 my business partner (and friend) Jaina Alexander and I began daydreaming about what our ideal performance training program and theatre company would look like. We’d talk for hours about how things could be done differently to shake-up the status quo. After months of finding our conversations turning to this topic, we made the decision to bring our daydreaming to life by planning to open Thumbprint Studios in Spring 2020. Our entire year of programming was planned. Then the pandemic hit…. yes, I know, great timing.

During the early weeks of the pandemic, much time was spent reevaluating if we should move forward and if so, what would this new business model look like. Asking tough questions such as “would theatre even be necessary or survive a global pandemic?” “What would theatre, a highly intimate art form, look like in this new normal” and “Can we utilize this time to reimagine, expand or explode the traditional theatrical canon?” After much deliberation, a lot of wine and deep breaths we made the choice to move forward embracing a totally virtual model. Now at our one-year anniversary, we are taking on new and exciting projects; such as expanding our training program with a focus on serving the whole artist, producing theatrical experiences for a virtual space, and offering new ways to foster community during isolation and beyond.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an actor, director, writer, educator, entrepreneur and cat mom. My focus as a theatre maker has been primarily on developing new works—I’ve never been a fan of waiting around for someone to give me permission to create. This means that I wear many hats to ensure the project makes it from the genesis to premier. Although self-producing with little support on a shoestring budget can be grueling, witnessing the “birth” of a new creative project makes it all worth it. Since we’ve moved into isolation during the pandemic, I’ve been lucky to continue working in virtual theatre. I find it exciting to be at the forefront of a new medium; sparking interest in other ways to integrate technology and live performance utilizing locative technology, augmented reality and virtual reality.
Looking back over my 30years in this industry I feel grateful for the many opportunities I’ve been given to perform, direct, create, write, produce, devise, clown and teach at a local, regional and national level. It is with the clarity of reflection of my path that I can honestly say the thing that got me to where I am at today (aside from determination, grit and moxie—key components to success in any field), was learning to celebrate failure, and building my artistic community.

too often failure stops us in our tracks as a sign that we aren’t good enough, and that’s when the self-doubt sets in confirming that we should give up. Imagine, what would become of a baby if they gave-up after their first unsuccessful attempt to walk? There came a point where I realized that the difference between the baby falling, and myself, was the celebration the baby received for their attempt and subsequent fall, followed by enthusiastic encouragement to try again. I’ve now made it a habit to embrace failings as opportunities for growth and catalyst for subsequent attempts.

Part of what makes this sustainable is my artistic community. The people who understand my process and inspire me with theirs; the people who celebrate with me when I fail beautifully and act as my cheerleader, the people who hold space for me when I shatter and laugh with me as I mend; without them I would be lost. If you haven’t found your artistic community do not wait another second, get out and look for them! A good place to start is the community at Thumbprint Studios, we hold space for theatre artists to come together in support of one another, share knowledge and discuss ideas—these people have been a lifeline for me this past year.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is tricky because I am currently multiregional—most recently I’ve resided in Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver; so, I’ll give you my top picks for each

LONG BEACH, CA (south LA county)
Eat/ drink:
Starling Dinner- there is always a wait, but so worth it!

Visit
El Dorado Nature Center- this nature walk is a little piece of heaven in the middle of the city!

Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)- this is my favorite place to spend a rainy day (I know they are few and far between in LA but they do happen)

DENVER
Eat/ drink:
Garlic Knot Pizza: they have good NY style pizza but the garlic knots always overshadow the main course (they are a must!)

Crumble Cookie: giant freshly baked cookies with new flavors each week (my personal favorites are the chilled sugar cookie and the cornbread cookie)
Note: both of these places deliver!

Visit
Hiking, you cannot come to Colorado and not get outdoors! Two of my favorite hikes: Upper Maxwell Falls Trail & Red Rocks Trading Post Trail

CHICAGO
Eat/ drink
Molly’s Cupcakes- trust me, just go!

Visit
Chicago Museum Contemporary Art- I find a lot of inspiration in art, this museum has a lovely rotating collection (good for super cold days when you don’t want to be outside)

Green City Farmers Market, Lincoln Park- love a good farmers market and this one in particular because you can follow your visit with a picnic in the park!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Jaina Alexander, a Founding Artistic Director at Thumbprint Studios

Victoria Melkonyan, Director of Outreach & Education at Thumbprint Studios

The Thumbprint Advisory & Accountability Board: Anne Garcia-Romero, Chuk Obasi, Margaret Laurena Kemp, Matthew Ellenwood

All of our past and present Emerging Artist Mentees: Sami Hansen, Emery Lade, Natalie Cruz, Rachel Post, Gabrielle Gutierrez, Oralia Neria, Adriana Zatarain, Moraud lebastchi

And everyone who is a part of the Thumbprint Community!

Website: https://www.thumbprintstudios.org www.collab24.org

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thumbprint.studios/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/april-sigman-marx-4a55bb97/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThumbprintStudiosChicago

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1pi8tFaeleLs5PjecwbDiA

Other: Personal Website: www.aprilsigman.com Personal Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/april.sigman.9/ Personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/garnetlocks/

Image Credits
photo credit: Cal Rep (production still from Machinal directed by Julianne Just) photo Credit: Bonnie Dolan (production still from Breadline: a serious clown show) photo credit: Thumbprint Studios (screen shot from virtual devising class: Create right where you are, right now!)

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.