Recently, I found myself at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) website, which has descriptions of how to determine what is a local business. "Sometimes determining which businesses are local and independently owned can be difficult," they write. "How about a locally owned McDonald’s franchise? How about an insurance agent with a national company and a local office? Many businesses participate in cooperative marketing, offer exclusive lines, and have all sorts of other business agreements." In answer to these questions, they offer the following series of questions:
- Is the business privately held (not publicly traded)?
- Do the business owners, totaling greater than 50 percent of the business ownership, live in your local region?
- Is the business registered in your state, with no corporate or national headquarters outside your region?
- Can the business make independent decisions regarding the name and look of the business, as well as all business purchasing, practices, and distribution?
- Does the business pay all its own rent, marketing expenses, and other expenses (without assistance from a corporate headquarters)?
In order to define a "local theatre," we might refocus question #2 on the fulcrum point of the issue:
"Does the artistic staff, totaling greater than 50 percent of the artistic staff, live in your local region?"To my mind, 50% might be overly generous -- I would prefer a much higher number, and in the case of a theatre tribe I'd want the number to be 100%. But it would be interesting to find out what percentage of a regional theatre's artistic staff are residents of the county in which they are working. Where are they registered to vote, for instance?
A quick tour of the actors in the Guthrie's Midsummer Night's Dream, for instance, would reveal what seems to be an admirable number of Minneapolitans in the cast, many drawn from the Univ of MN / Guthrie BFA training program, which would win my applause. Their production of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean is a presentation of local Penumbra Theatre's production, which seems also to include mostly local actors. Kudos to the Guthrie!
It is difficult to get information about the Goodman's actors -- I found no links to castlists or actor names. However, there is an "Artistic Collective" that "is a diverse group of outstanding American theater artists who make Goodman their artistic home," which includes Robert Falls, Frank Galati, Mary Zimmerman, et al -- all of whome seem to live in the Chicago area. Their link for auditions says that they have annual auditions in Chicago and "frequently" in NY, and they tell in-town actors that "Goodman holds out-of-town auditions infrequently, and the need for actors outside the Chicago area depends specifically upon the demands of each individual production." Perhaps most indicative is that auditions held outside the Chicago area are "by invitation only..." So it is difficult to make a judgment.
I encourage you to do your own research concerning a theatre of particular interest to you. Is it a local theatre?