BWW Backstage Pets: MIKE SABLONE and Cooper
Welcome to BACKSTAGE PETS, where upstate SC theatre artists share photos of their most loyal fans - their pets.
Theatre Artist: Mike Sablone and Cooper Sablone
Featured Role: Producing Artistic Director, The Warehouse Theatre
Let's go backstage with Mike.
Tell us about your pet.
Cooper is a supermutt. No, really, we got his DNA test and it turns out he's 16% supermutt. He's also part pit bull, husky, boxer, german shepherd, rat terrier (this explains his ears), american staffordshire terrier, and labrador. So it's easier to say he's a supermutt. He's a rescue from Lucky Pup and he's three years old. He's an absurdly enthusiastic dog with aggressive FOMO. He always wants, or rather: needs, to be the center of attention. He enjoys running around the backyard, getting paid attention to by other humans, playing with other dogs, humans, cats, humans, destroying kong toys, humans, eating carrots, staring longingly out the window at humans and dogs, long walks through the neighborhood to see his dog, cat, human, and squirrel friends, and zoom conference calls. Here's a photo of him right after he came to live with us:
What are you doing to stay sane and engaged during quarantine?
I'm still working hard for The Warehouse, trying to produce this season and getting us ready for next. We just started our casting process for the 20-21 season so there are plenty of headshots, resumes, and audition tapes to go through as well as still trying to produce APPROPRIATE for June. I've got a reading pile six Coopers high that I hope to get to at some point, and as you can see in the photo below, we try to spend our mornings watching recordings of productions from across the country (this one is A.C.T.'s TONI STONE). I'm also home more so we do a long late afternoon walk every day to get out of the house and get some exercise (it is impossible to tire Cooper out).
Any quarantine self-care tips you can share?
As someone who has worked from home a lot during their career, try to give yourself as much real world structure as you can. I've always found that showering and getting dressed as if you are going to work makes me more productive. But that's not exactly self-care, it's more tips to try and stay productive (but also don't worry if you're not super productive, this is an absurdly crazy time for everyone). For self-care it's a lot of checking in with friends, Top Chef, and the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen has eleventy billion hours of fantastic content to distract me. Also Call of Duty released a new free-to-play battle royale arena that I play at night with some friends from high school and as you can see Cooper is fascinated by how bad I am at it.
How is your pet helping you cope?
As much as I love the insane unpredictability of my day job, it's helpful to have someone who is so regimented with a schedule around to keep me focused when I don't have as many day-to-day distractions. Of course pets are stress-reducers, but it's more than that. He's a great companion and my wife Taylor and I are fans of creating a running commentary of Cooper's "responses" to this current crisis to try and keep our spirits up (Cooper is pretty sassy). We had some friends from LA who came to stay with us a year ago and their daughter is a big Cooper fan, so we've been recording Marco Polo videos for her. Her joy in seeing the videos brings us joy as well. We had a Zoom meeting at The Warehouse on Friday which ended with us all bringing our pets:
Obviously I'm partial to Cooper as being my favorite, but I do have to say Clare Ruble's mom Sharon was a close second.
Overall I am trying to find the joy in spending much more time at home than I normally would. It's hard because I am devastated about The Warehouse shows that people aren't getting to see, but I have confidence that we'll be back soon and when that happens I want to look back at this time as fondly as I can.
How can people continue to support The Warehouse?
We are committed to paying our staff and compensating our artists affected by this shutdown, so if you have the means The Warehouse Theatre can always use your support:
But also during this time when so many of our local partners and other local businesses are suffering I encourage you to buy local restaurant gift cards, order books from independent bookstores like M Judson, produce and groceries from Swamp Rabbit, and in general help those people whose livelihoods center around bringing people together.
And for everyone's safety, please stay home. This is what Cooper looks like when you don't. He's very disappointed and sad. But he looks forward to seeing you again when it's safe. (You can also follow Cooper's adventures on instagram.)