Monday, June 26, 2006

Hear! Hear! Terry Teachout

Terry Teachout of About Last Night (see blogroll), in his Wall Street Journal column, ends his terrific article on regional theatres with the following sentence: "Take it from a critic who now spends much of his time living out of a suitcase: If you don't know what's hot in "the stix," you don't know the first thing about theater in 21st-century America."

Now that a NY critic has said it, it is time for regional theatres to take the next step. Make a banner of Teachout's words and put it in your artistic director's office as a reminder, and then walk the walk. If you're proud to be a regional theatre (and you should be), then be proud to hire and retain regional actors. Your claim to being a regional theatre is shot to hell if the actors and designers and directors are regularly imported from NYC. How can you claim to be a regional theatre if everybody except your office staff lives somewhere else?


oldphort said...

does not my community include all those with whom I remain close, regardless of how many miles seperate us?

this blog is a community.

if I want to create theatre in atlanta, is it some how anti-community, or disingenuous, perhaps, for me to "import" and work with artists whom I have known in other locales? we speak a common artistic language, they are certainly part of an intentional artistic community within which I also reside - I shouldn't work with then simply because I live in Atlanta and they live in Asheville?

yet, your point is well taken - esp. in re: "regional" theatres that hold their casting calls in NYC. ick.

tho, the theatres that do such things (I can think of at least one in WNC) aren't interested in creating community-engendering theatre. Their mission is to provide the closest thing to a B'way show possible for the tourists/retirees who comprise the majority of denizens in their houses. The audience's eyes are wide open in this instance - they want to read the bio of Actor McActsalot and see that he has played Europe, Nat'l Tours, B'way AND little ol' Podunk, NC. it seems to somehow validate their community and patronage. "Yeah, we might be in the sticks, but even B'way comes to OUR sticks."

This is part of what is killing the theatre.

Scott Walters said...

You raise an interesting question: is the a difference between, say, casting out of NYC and working with your friends?

Ultimately, I think a regional theatre should bring in new and diverse talent to keep things stirred up. But I think the health of the theatre relies on a personal connection between those who sit in the seats and those who stand on the stage, and that comes from continuous contact both in and out of the theatre.

So an answer: yes, I think an Atlanta theatre ought to be an Atlanta theatre, and if you are relying on your Asheville friends to create that theatre, you should move to Asheville to make the theatre. Not much purpose to being a theatre person in exile.

P'tit Boo said...

In Seattle there is this interesting phenomenon.
Many talented actors who are not getting too much work, move to Chicago and New York and suddenly they are cast again in shows here and they become bicoastal.
It's sooo common !!!
I find it the weirdest and most disturbing !!!

Scott Walters said...

Yes, isn't that absurd? It is like a 100-zip code makes actors better than they are. Keep an eye out for my next post in my Model (Draft) series -- it will address this.

oldphort said...

i believe that if you are serious about creating theatre as a "company" (ie - finding those artistic soles with whom you have/can create the best possible artistic relationship) - then you should make an effort to live "community-ally" (not communally, for pete's sake). The theatrician must be a permanent part of their community - not just jobbed in for shows.

and, how does the "company" extend its sphere of influence (and confluence) to include more of the community? how does my lawyer/neighbor-across-the-street-who-I see-each-night-at-the-park-with-our-daughters become an active member of the subset of our community which creates theatre?

ideas person
community dweller

I am all of these things as well. And then, I create theatre.