Sunday, April 20, 2008

Want and Need

At the end of the NY Times article on the Off-Off-Broadway theatre numbers, Paul Bargetto, the artistic director of East River Commedia, boggles his own mind with what he apparently thinks is a rhetorical question:

"“You start to show people the numbers involved here,” he said. “What city wouldn’t want to have 350 to 400 not-for-profit theater companies?”

A better question might be: What city needs 350 to 400 not-for-profit companies? I suggest a quick read of Garret Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons", which discusses how finite resources (in this case, the theatregoing crowd) can be depleted through overuse, as an indirect response to Bargetto's question. Or perhaps a basic economics text about overcrowded markets (see "marginal benefit," "excess supply," and "allocative function of price.")

For anyone with tribal theatre leanings, this report should be printed out and taped to the wall next to your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder of the wisdom of decentralization.

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