As Slay notes at TheatreForte, there were 30 posts and countless comments on this topic around the theatrosphere. Consider the effect if we could marshal that kind of brain power around a practical problem! The effect on devilvet alone would be remarkable! ;-) But seriously: the potential power is palpable (I just wanted to be alliterative). What if, for instance, there was a theatre that had a challenge concerning a production (could be anything -- from marketing to sustainable design to audience building to...), and we focused the minds of the theatrosphere on it for a couple days -- think of all the ideas that might be generated.
On Talk and Action
devilvet points out that talking is only half the process. True. In a 1985 book called Action Science, the authors draw a distinction between espoused theories and theories-in-use. "Espoused theories," they write, "are those that an individual claims to follow. Theories-in-use," they conclude," are those that can be inferred from action." (quoted in The Learning Paradigm College by John Tagg, p 13.) It is important that our espoused theories match up with our theories-in-use.
I'd also like to quote from one of my new favorites book, Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed:
We've been taught that thinking is separate from doing. But in this book we offer thinking as a form of doing, and emphasize doing as an opportunity for thinking, reflecting and learning. Complexity science suggests that how we think about thngs matters. A fundamental sociological premise is the Thomas theorem: what is perceived as real is real in its consequences. We would add: how we think about and understand the world frames our actions. Indeed, we can be even more basic: whether we think about things matters. The capacity to think astutely is often undervalued in the world of action.While thought without action may be stillborn (may be -- I'm not totally certain that is true, if you define action as direct action on the specific topic), but I do believe this: action without thought is the War in Iraq. I can imagine King Georgie bouncing back and forth in his chair and whining, "Stop all this talking about winning the peace -- we'll figure that out when we get there. Let's go kick some butt and take names!"
Yesterday, I posted about the seeming Nylachi (New York/Los Angeles/Chicago for those of you who don't know the source of that neologism) orientation of American Theatre. devilvet suggested the creation of a parallel publication, probably on-line, that covered the rest of the American theatre scene. Great idea. Not one I am willing to devote my focus to at the moment, but one that I wish somebody would do (maybe the "Flyover" folks at ArtsJournal?). However, I will say this: we also need to hold people accountable for what they are supposed to be doing. The fact is that American Theatre is not fulfilling its purpose by failing to provide a picture of the vibrant theatre that is occuring throughout this great country. So I will be emailing Jim O'Quinn, the Editor in Chief of American Theatre with a link to my post, and request a response. If you would like to participate, I suggest you do the same: O'Quinn's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org