Over at "Never Trust Your Pet with the Devilvet," Bob has written about yesterday's blogslide about values in a post entitled "Talk Is Only Half the Battle."Most of the post is about encouraging more vigorous debate in the theatrosphere. As everyone knows, I haven't been one to steer clear of debate, although recently I have been trying to debate in a way that is more productive than the sort of slash-and-burn debates that used to happen in the past. I don't have time for pissing matches anymore, and I know for sure that Bob isn't suggesting more of them. So to Bob's request for an "Amen" concerning vigorous debate: Amen, Bob, preach it.
More importantly to me are a piece of the original post, and a comment connected to that post. Bob wrote, "Yesterday, I heard a few interesting things. I also heard an echo and echo and echo of tired things I've heard before." Then he wrote in the comments: "What good was yesterday if all we do is reaffirm and recite? Yes, it might give us (lot of us and them talk yesterday) a momentary thrust of catharsis...I want more!"
He's right -- what good was yesterday if we don't do more than just say our piece? When I read all those who contributed, I started seeing a common thread. While Bob may feel this is something he's heard before, nevertheless there seemed to be common agreement about one thing: one thing that sets theatre apart is presence, a sense of being in it together with the audience, dialog, community, call it what you will but it is all pretty much the same thing.
So what is the next step, the action step? Well, I hate to risk glibness, but walk your talk. All of you who are artists, look at the work you are creating and ask yourself: does this really take full advantage of what I feel is most unique about the theatre? If not, is there a way I could add something to the event itself that would bring it closer to my ideal? It's like a mission statement -- you use it to make decisions about what opportunities to take advantage of and which to let go. I think if we all did that one simple thing it would change the face of the theatre. If we all made sure that what we believe to be theatre's value was at the center of the theatre we actually create, then at least our elevator speech would parallel what was actually happening in our theatres. Without that, yesterday truly was an empty event, wasn't it?