Definitely. How can we do that without compromising our art form or assimilating with the capitalist consumerism we are rebelling against?
I'm also interested in the idea of the ensemble artistically. Yes, it would be great to have more rehearsal time, the creation process really does need to get more emphasis. One way to combat it is the ensemble idea. Back in the day Commedia Troupes could whip out plays at will in a combination if improv and acquired skill. But they had also trained with each other and knew how to work together. Anne Bogart does this stuff with the SITI company and Viewpoints, and I'm sure there's others as well. But I think it's an area of theatre that needs some more emphasis.
MattJ does a good thing here: he tries to come up with a solution, even a partial one, to the challenge. He identifies very clear perameters for the exploration ("How can we do that without compromising our art form or assimilating with the capitalist consumerism we are rebelling against?"), and he offers a solution: improv.
This leads me to ask for the combined brainpower of the theatre blogosphere to brainstorm: how might we create the possibility for an ensemble within the current theatre atmosphere?
I can think of a couple possibilities, and I hope others might contribute more. Here are a couple:
1. Pool resources and share expenses. I'm not talking about the traditional commune idea, which has gotten a deservedly bad rap from its 1960s weirdness. But nevertheless, would there be a way for a company to share its resources. For instance, buy a house together to house the company (or better yet, get an arts patron to contribute a house rent-free for a year), or on a smaller scale cook communal meals. The general idea is to reduce as much as possible the amount of money it takes to live, so as to allow more time to create. (The old saw is that time is money, but the reverse is also true: money is time.)
2. Rehearse and/or perform in non-traditional spaces. One of the big costs for a company is paying to rent space. Would it be possible to rehearse in a basement, a community center, a garage? Could performances occur in a church, a hotel ballroom, a garage, an attic?