Showing posts from March 23, 2008

Very Cool

Thanks to Mike Lawler [note: I put Lawton at first, who is the university lawyer here at UNCA! Sorry Mike!] for pointing us to this conference on theatre and ecology: 2009 Earth Matters on Stage.

And an Interview by Somebody Else

Ever wonder what I was doing in 1968? Well, maybe you didn't, but Laura Axelrod did. She interviewed me for her great 1968 project. Check it out here, and be sure to look at the 1968 project!

Oh, and thanks to Travis Bedard for going to bat with "Riddle Me This." (Unfortunately, I think the result will be more comments on my personality, and not many on the issues.)

Another Interview with Myself

What, you again?
Yeah. Can we do another interview? A couple of my readers say I come across as more human in dialog.

Sheesh. When you have to talk to yourself to be human, I think I'd throw in the towel.

OK. What do you want to talk about?
American Theatre Magazine.

Yeah, what's up with that? I haven't read it for a while -- is it really such a bad magazine?
No, it is a great magazine! It is certainly the best magazine about theatre in the US, in my opinion. In fact, I've considered assigning it as a textbook for my classes, but I haven't figured out how best to do that yet.

Then why are you trashing it?
I'm not trashing it! I just want it to spread all that excellence around. With all the intelligence that comes through every month, it has such potential to really make a huge difference in our view of theatre in this country. They could really make us realize that it is valuable to make a career committed to working in the regional theatre, and that such a car…

Can't Resist

My wife sent this to me:

Reply to Sarah Hart

I have been thinking how best to reply to the welcome response from Sarah Hart, the Managing Editor of American Theatre to my post "The Nylachification of American Theatre Magazine," as well as to a comment left by Isaac concerning my methodology in writing that post. It is certainly not my intention to demonize the American Theatre staff -- publishing a monthly magazine about a topic as large as the American theatre is a very difficult job, and involves making many difficult choices, as Ms. Hart points out in her letter, and I respect that. My purpose is to tease out of the data an orientation that I feel works against the original noble goals of the regional theatre movement.

In his 1972 book Regional Theatre: The Revolutionary Stage, Joseph Wesley Zeigler, who from 1966 to 1969 himself led the TCG, decided to use the word "regional" to describe the theatre about which he was writing "mostly because it reflects the anti-capital philosophy which is the core of…

Response from American Theatre

This was left as a comment on the "Nylachification of American Theatre Magazine" post by Sarah Hart, Managing Editor of American Theatre:

Mr. Walters,

Your concerns about expansive coverage for theatres across the country, regardless of urban proximity, are valid and something we struggle with in every issue. We work to balance a range of diversity over all our issues, including geographic, stylistic, racial, age and size of theatre, while still telling compelling and timely stories. Does it come out evenly in every single issue? Of course not. Does the ongoing reporting in American Theatre show an honest breadth of the work that exists? We hope so.

Still, breaking our national theatre community into reductive statistics is complicated. I doubt an accurate tape measure exists. So many stories reflect national issues and transcend so-called regions. Should we be ghettoizing our writers or training programs because they have a specific address, when their plays or students fan o…

Stage Direction Magazine

I'd like to second Jacob's plug for Stage Directions magazine -- he seems to be doing some good work there. Here is what he said in a recent comment:

I'm going to do a little self-promotion here -- Stage Directions magazine, which I recently became editor of, is committed to promoting/examining/reporting on theatre of all levels, everywhere. In the April 2008 issue we have 15 mentions of theatre companies/schools/organizations. These aren't just off-handed remarks but either major elements of a story (e.g., talking to three different artistic directors about how they choose a season, none of whom were based in NYC). Of those 15, only 3 were based in NYC. One was from L.A. Every other source was based across the country, including Kansas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Iowa, etc. As a magazine we focus on the practicalities of creating better theatre, no matter what your skillsets are, and on educating the next generation of theatre artists -- which means letting them…

Here's What We Need

A few posts ago, we were discussing the need for a more regionally-oriented way to promote the non-Nylachi theatre scene. I just clicked a link on Joe Patti's "Butts in the Seats" blog and up came this: Inside the Arts: A Cultural Blogging Exchange. Nice design. One stop shopping. Sort of like TheatreForte. In fact, hey, Theatreforte is already doing what we're thinking about, except it is focused primarily on blogs. So what we need are more regional theatre bloggers....

Richard Florida, Globalism, and Coals to Newcastle

There was a time when I thought Richard Florida's idea of the Creative Class would be good for all us artists. Suddenly, towns across America would recognize how important the arts are to luring these apparently desirable Creatives to their town, and Creatives equals Prosperity. Over at "Butts in the Seats," Joe details what Florida has been up to of late in a post entitled "Are You Living Where You Should Be?" Florida has ranked various American cities according to the various criteria that he has identified as being desirable for the members of the Creative Class, divided according to what age they are.

What makes me less enthusiastic about Florida's work is that it encourages the same kind of thinking that is the foundation of gated communities: the desire to surround yourself with people who are pretty much just like you. While I have been known to express a personal dislike of Nylachi on this blog every once in a while (ahem), there is at least one thi…


I just subscribed to Kevin Davenport's blog "Producer's Perspective." Davenport is an Off-Broadway producer. I suppose, given my theatre tribe orientation, that this is an odd choice. But as Richard II says, "And yet, not so." Davenport has an entrepreneurial frame of mind that I find admirable and applicable to the tribe model.

For instance, his most recent post is "Hit the Street to Find Out How to Sell." Kevin tells the story of Duane, a rapper in NYC who is selling his CD's by performing on the streets of Times Square. While Duane is focused on how commercial producers have no choice about who is hired to sell their tickets at the Broadway theatre or at the ticket ordering companies like Telecharge (did you know the Shubert Organization owned Telecharge? What a mess this whole business is!), my focus is on Duane. As Kevin notes, Duane "believes in his product," and "there is nothing more powerful than the live pitch."

I h…

Book Announcement

For those of you who might be interested (and who probably will not be surprised), I am presently working on a book that will pull together my ideas on theatre tribes. Working title is From Employee to Artist: How to Start a Theatre Tribe (I Think). I will, of course, continue to write about theatre tribes on this blog and float new ideas, but the problem with blogs is also their strength: posts are in chronological order, and they sort of disappear into archive oblivion. Tags help, but still, that's why I created the Theatre Tribe Resource Website for those who wanted to a more organized source of information (I really need to work on adding more resources to that). But I'd also like to have the material in a more portable form for those who are not blog savvy or who don't like reading on-line. The plan is to self-publish the book with a print-on-demand company in order to keep costs low and maintain control over the product. When all this will happen, I don't know, b…

Three Things I Learned the Hard Way...A Meme

Yikes! I've been tagged by Don Hall: detail three things you learned the "hard way" and tag three others.

1. Don't marry someone else in the theatre.
Now, before Don and RZ and others climb all over me, this is a personal one, not a universal ban. I am just too intense and too focused to have somebody else equally intense and focused on the same thing sharing a house with me 24/7. The result is mutual meltdown and way more tension than a relationship can stand. I am now married to a wonderful woman who encourages me to live in the Real World (tm) at least part of every day. And the result is better personal mental health, and a lot more joy.

2. Sometimes Warrior-energy is not so good for leadership.
The task of the Warrior is to kill the dragon. So first the Warrior has to identify people as dragons, and then kill them -- otherwise he doesn't have anything to do. I have a lot of Warrior energy (just in case you didn't notice), and that helps me get a lot done. Bu…

Clarifying Community

One of the themes that surfaced during our value discussion was the idea of community. However, there seems to be a misconception about the term -- that is means community activism or involvement with community political and social issues.

When I use the word community, I mean it in a much simpler way: the ties or bonds between people. To create community is to create, and then strengthen, the bonds between people. One way to do that is through community activism, of course -- bonds are often strengthen through a common activity or a common enemy. But community is created simply through talking and listening. The times that I have been in church, there often were parts of the service in which we were asked to turn and greet the people around us. The intention is to create a sense of community, a sense of being part of a group. If that were the only thing, it would be a pretty superficial community, of course. But then there often was coffee and cake in the church basement afterwards, w…

Random Thoughts on the Value Discussion

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 t…

The Nylachification of American Theatre Magazine

For a few months now, I have had a sense that American Theatre Magazine, the flagship magazine of the American regional theatre, seemed to be focusing primarily on Nylachi. But I told myself no, you're probably cherry-picking. But yesterday, I decided to take a look at the February 08 articles and count the articles written by Nylachi authors or written about Nylachi theatres. Here is what I found:

Feature articles:
Nylachi:10Non-Nylachi: 1News in brief
Nylachi: 3 (plus probably two more labeled "cyberspace" about Tommy Tune and Willie Nelson / Anthony Herrera, who obviously aren't really regional artists)Non-Nylachi: 4Well, maybe that's an aberration. So I dug out the Januray 08 edition:

Nylachi: 9Non=Nylachi: 2 [although I didn't really know where to put an essay by Naomi Wallace and an articel about Penn (of Penn and Teller) doing Macbeth in NJ -- add them here if you'd like]News in Brief
Nylachi: 9Non-Nylachi: 3So what gives? Theatre Communications…