Showing posts from June 8, 2008

Controversy at NPAC

I originally posted this at the NPAC blog as one of my liveblogging contributions:

Today [Friday] was a very different day at NPAC, for me anyway. Yesterday was crammed from 8:00 am until 11:00 pm with discussions, speeches, sessions, and stimulating conversations. Today there seemed to be fewer things going on, and I found myself more inclined to buy books in the exhibit hall -- a LOT of books. After three days at this conference, I have come to the conclusion, as a teacher, that I must work harder to introduce my students to the many ideas and studies about the arts that are being published. Whether the Wallace Foundation, or the NEA, or WolfBrown, or any number of other sources of ideas that contextualize, explain, and reveal the larger issues that permeate our artistic landscape, there are too many opportunities for artists to take control of their artistic lives. Why does the academy focus almost exclusively on "skill development" and leave to chance the …

Mike Daisey's On My Mind

With Sunday's post-show panel at How Theatre Failed America coming up fast (now with free beer!), I am finding interesting stuff on Mike's website, including a link to an article about a 4-actor resident company being formed by Portland's Artists Repertory Theater. A step in the right direction, of course, and kudos to them. Mike links to an article in the Portland Mercury that quotes Daisy on importing actors, and then makes an outstanding leap:

The outsourcing conversation feels particularly relevant on the heels of the Drammys. Most of the awards given to Portland Center Stage went to people who were brought in from elsewhere, which kind of strikes me as complete bullshit. It’s no commentary on the quality of the work PCS was honored for—I sure can’t argue with the Outstanding Production nod to Twelfth Night, for example—but if you’re going to insist that these are “local” theater awards and not allow any touring productions or non-locally produced shows to compete, wher…

This Blog Is Open for Business

After a coupole weeks to collect my thoughts and restore a sense of emotional balance, I am ready to start posting here again.

I am currently at the National Performing Arts Convention in Denver, which has been a real eye-opener on many levels. The level of thought here is high, and the longer I am here the more convinced I become that theatre education needs to raise expectations for students' engagement with the ideas and data about theatre. The focus of most theatre departments is so relentless on skills almost to the exclusion of engagement with the big questions and the big discoveries that inform our art. When we talk about challenging young people, we tend to focus on having them read more challenging plays, for instance, which is important but also, like the skills-based training, insular.

Young people need to engage the challenges and ideas of their time, and of times gone by that can be mined. Theory is not irrelevant, nor are the studies of the Wallace Foundation or the …