Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Question

Taking a page from Isaac's Parabasis book, here is a question: what do you think would happen to the American theatre, and the American theatre audience, if all of the major funding sources in America decided they would not grant money to any regional theatre whose season contained more than 25% plays that were older than 10 years old?

5 comments:

Freeman said...

Regional theater's would do far fewer classics and audiences would either adjust (not likely) or leave in droves (more likely).

This is a very, very narrow scenario. I mean...how likely or practical is this?

Sarah McL said...

Scott - out of curiosity, is this purely hypothetical or one of your wildest dreams?

Scott Walters said...

Matt and Sarah -- It is a mental exercise, not a practical proposal or a wildest dream. One problem we have in our culture is imagining things arranged differently than they are currently arranged. So, if those were the rules, Matt, do you really think it would be the death knell of American theatre, or would the theatre and/or theatre audiences change to fit the new reality?

Anonymous said...

Well then in the spirit in which I think you asked the question, all major regional theatre's would begin to shrink in size becuase the 25% of "classics" would receive the bulk of production assets and the other 3 out of 4 shows would be done on a shoe string budget...Those new shows would be small cast shows most likely (5 actors or less) they would probably have costumes, but would attempt to have the smallest set budget possible. Again same with lighting. It might help one of your pet causes, in that local actors would be used for the new plays, becuase all the money and resource would be for the "classics". There would undoubtably be a negative effect on ticket sales. There would be an increase in recent penned works that are from adapted source material that was more familiar to the audience. Regional theaters might also take up more robust children's theatre programs to help with the audience drop off.

So to review we still get "Christmas Carol"
we might get the occasional Sarah Ruhl play, then we get new works with as little financial support, between new revues and new adaptations...

-dv

J. Holtham said...

Wow. Both of those answers say so much, don't they? My thoughts are closer to dv, especially at the larger houses, but I do think, slightly under the radar, there would be a boom of smaller theatres. If this funder wasn't simply demanding that the top tier theatres changed their seasons, but was looking to give money to new theatres, they would find them and theatres that were undersupported could breathe a little easier. I think dv is right on, in terms of the organizational response: the big guys would just keep on keepin' on. They would find ways to still qualify, still get their cash. But I disagree with both dv and freeman about the audiences: A) I don't think the majority of audiences would notice, in part because the theatres would be trying to change as little as possible and B) the audiences would be happy to support a new play (cf. 1001 at the Denver Center). The theatres might have to think a little harder about marketing and reaching new audiences, but they'd find them. I don't know. I might be more of an optimist than most.