Artists and athletes are often seen as occupying separate worlds, but to Joey Frangieh, there are a lot of similarities between the two.
Frangieh is the artistic director of the Boston Theater Company. Though he was never really an athlete — he was always the last to finish running the mile in middle school, he said — he recently ran the Boston Marathon.
That experience inspired him to help bridge the divide between the art and athletic worlds. Frangieh just launched the Artist Athletic Association (AAA), an initiative by the Boston Theater Company, to bring together creators and competitors.
“My whole life, I was told, ‘you’re not athletic, you’re a creator, you’re artistic, it’s fine, go do that,’” he said. “When I was thinking about what it takes to be an artist, an actor — you’re constantly training your voices, bodies and minds, you can’t take a sick day when you’re an artist, and can do that as an athlete either. I felt like the similarities between artists and athletes are very, very strong.”
Frangieh was inspired to run the marathon because of a play Boston Theater Company did called Finish Line, which told the stories of the Boston Marathon bombing survivors in their own words.
While researching for that play, Frangieh met some “incredible people,” he said, like those injured as spectators who ran the marathon the next year, and was inspired to go for it.
“The approach of committing to something, working toward something bigger than you, not taking excuses, training your mind and body, waking up early and stretching, doing research for rehearsal that day — preparing [for either a play or a marathon] feels exactly the same,” he said.
Plus, he noted, everyone can enjoy the benefits of working out. He wished he got into athletics sooner, but the super-masculine stereotype of the athletic world was intimidating.
Through AAA, he hopes to make that world more accessible and to show budding theater kids that they can be athletic, too. They don’t have to just fit in one box.
AAA, to Frangieh, is “a group of artists and also supporters of the arts who believe in teamwork, in dedication and commitment and the mission is to promote health and healthiness through physical activity, while breaking down the stereotype of what it means to be an athlete.”
Seven AAA members will run the Cambridge Half Marathon this Sunday, and 14 others from the group will volunteer at the race’s water stops. They’re running under the team name “The Lupones of Patti” to honor the Broadway diva.
“When you look at the Cambridge Half Marathon, you expect to see a lot of people in Nike sports outfits, super athletic,” Frangieh said, “and then you’ll see seven people in bright pink shirts with Patti’s face run by. It shows you don’t have to fit in. We’re going to do sports our own way.”