Wednesday, May 24, 2006

To Hell With 'Em

MattJ provides a poignant response to my post "On Walls and Bunkers":

"I have mixed feelings about some of this I guess. One sentence from Clancy writes that young artists, since they are busy "finding their voice" (an idea I am not trying to dominish), have very little intellectual resources to contribute to a radical reconstruction of the downtown theatre scene. As one such person, who is of course looking for a voice like the rest, I feel as if I have nothing but resources to offer. It's not a lack of desire, will, strength, drive, etc. It's the need to prove to the existing theratre community of my own merits. The marginalization of theatre has led to a faction of sorts that closes in on itself, needing to be "broken into." It is thatvery insularity which shields out the young artist until they get some kind of break, because it's all based on who ya know. A professor of mine recently said to me "Matt, I think you're really talented. I really do. But, unfortunately, you're not going to get jobs based on your talent for a long time." It's a bit discouraging."

Yes, I think it is a bit discouraging, too, but for another reason entirely: just what the hell was this professor saying? Not only why would you say this to a young person with talent and motivation, but what is the underlying assumption? I'm certain this professor was trying to be "realistic," and thought he was doing Matt a favor, but think about what he is saying! Name another cutting-edge, innovative industry in this nation that 1) ignores young talent, 2) doesn't take advantage of the innovative ideas such young people have to offer, and 3) thinks it is doing young people a favor by pouring water on enthusiasm!

Matt, I say this: to hell with 'em. Not just this professor, but this general attitude that permeates our theatre education system. Don't think of yourself as having to wait for somebody to give you permission to innovate and create -- if the tech industry did that, Jobs and Gates would be middle managers at IBM waiting for permission to do something other than punchcard data entry and we'd be writing letters to each other via snailmail. The current theatre is moribund -- think in a new way. Look at the TCG listings for the regional theatres -- is that really what you aspire to? Is that really what is going to save theatre from creeping irrelevance? Think of a new way! Jobs and Gates worked in their garage -- what is the theatrical version of a garage? Hell, it may even be a garage! Or a spare bedroom. Or a homeless shelter. Or... who knows? Dare to innovate. Look at the "stuff" of theatre and ask whether there would be a new way to put it together that would be exciting and new. Turn things upside down and inside out -- throw the baby and the bathwater out and start over. Don't let these so-called realists get you down, don't cut your creativity to suit the times -- start your own revolution!

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