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Showing posts from March 9, 2008

On Nick at the Cameron

First, my apologies to Nick at Rat Sass for failing to acknowledge my debt in my post "A Theatre Space" to his fascinating description of his Toronto days at at Cameron House entitled "Theatre Kultur." And his musings on the "edifice complex" article in the NY Times. By the time I got around to writing that post, I had literally 24 tabs open from links to blog posts and articles I wanted to notate and discuss, and I totally lost track of where I had gotten started.

In case you were wondering, Nick's background and mine are pretty dissimilar. I have led a pretty damned conservative lifestyle throughout my 50 years, even if my mind leans toward solutions that step outside the norm. In many ways, I think our conceptions of what constitutes a tribe is shaped by those experiences.

Life at the Cameron house certainly has certain points of connection with the theatre tribe idea that I am (relentlessly) focused on at Theatre Ideas. The artists there certainly …

First Rumblings, Perhaps

Lee Holbroke drew my attention to a post on the McCarter Theatre blog by Alan Immerwahr called "Musings on a Third Theatre." Thanks Lee. Apparently Mike Daisey's ideas, and those being exhcange in the theatrosphere, are being heard somewhat. I think this is a step in the right direction, but as Immerwahr recognizes the weight of the Big Box theatre makes everything difficult. Full productions for new plays by "emerging artists" is a nice start, and I applaud it. There is still a long way to go to a resident company with at least one resident playwright. Back to the future.

On Opening Doors

When I first started devising this new model for regional theatre companies, it seemed pretty straightforward. I had several "themes" that I was going to address that I had written about in the past, and they seemed focused and manageable. But the more I learn, and the more I write, the more this project becomes about more than simply theatre. I find myself learning about sustainable economics, about consensus processes, about ecologically sound theatre practices, about community building and organizing, about dialogue and communication, about barter and alternative monetary systems. It involves thinking about the life of the citizen-artist differently, and seeking ways to conceive of the work of art in a different way than a product to be marketed and sold. I feel as if I have opened a door in a subject I thought was compact, and suddenly found another huge room behind the door with many more doors opening from it. It is exciting and daunting, and it wars against the insist…

A Theatre Space

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There seems to be a lot of talk recently about what Harold Clurman once called the "edifice complex." On March 9th, the New York Times published an article called "Enter the Booster, Bearing Theatres" about the decade-long building craze among Big Box Corporate regional theatres. "Since 2000," author Jesse Green writes, these institutions "have initiated dozens of construction projects whose combined tab is approaching $1 billion." Signature Theatre: $16M; Philadelphia Theatre Company: $25M; Guthrie: $125M ("“You either grow or you die,” said Joe Dowling, the Guthrie’s artistic director"); Berekley Rep: $50M; the Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC: $89M ("Michael Kahn, the artistic director of the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington, said it was difficult enough to induce New York actors, afraid to be out of town for too long, to commit to the six-week rehearsal periods he favors, let alone the eight-week runs necessitated by…

On Yesterday's "Vision"

So yesterday I posted a "vision" of how a theatre tribe might look. By choosing to put the theatre in Independence, Missouri (I couldn't resist the idea of naming it Independence Theatre), I made some broad conjectures about lifetsyle possibilities. Before making such a choice, I would have had to do much more research about the Independence community: demographics, employment opportunities, other theatres in the area, median income, etc. For instance, according to the 2000 census, 92% of Independence is white, the median age is 37.8 years, 15% of the population has a bachelor's degree or higher. the largest percentage of people were employed in education health and social services, median family income is about $46,000. There is a community theatre, the City Theatre of Independence, which has been in operation since 1980 and has 400 members; they charge $8 to $10 a ticket.

Obviously, had I made a different choice of cities, the vision would have been different. Had …

A Vision

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I am reading How to Make Collaboration Work: Powerful Ways to Build Consensus, Solve Problems, and Make Decisions by David Straus, which I recommend to anyone who wants to...well, learn how to make collaboration work. In it, he talks about three different "spaces" in the collaboration model. In the "problem space," the task is "to understand the problem and reach consensus on what it is an why it exists." Several months ago, I was focused on crunching data addressing some of the problems connected to the current regional theatre scene -- whether or not consensus was achieved, I don't know, but that was the problem space. In the "solution space," the task is "to reach consensus on a solution and a course of action." I have been working in the solution space for a while now, proposing some foundational values that could counter the problem. Straus also talks about the "vision space," which is where you "explore a visio…

An Interview...with Myself

You've been writing about theatre tribes for almost two months now. How far do you think you've gotten?
I can't say for sure, since I am feeling my way through -- I am using the blog as a way of developing and testing ideas, which I am then polishing off-line into a more formal style. But I'd say I'm about 1/3 of the way through.

One third? Are you kidding??!!! How much more can be said about this?
Well, at this point I've really only laid out the foundational values of tribal theatre and the overall structure. But there really hasn't been much about how to achieve these values.

You academics are SO long-winded. I wish you'd take dv's advice and be more succinct.
Well, I'll admit that cutting to the chase is not one of my strong suits. If you look at most of the posts I've written over the past couple years, most of them are long, too. But in this case, I've felt the long-windedness is necessary, because some of these ideas are counter-intuit…