Thursday, July 06, 2006

Michael Billington Gets It

In his article "Location, Location, Location," Guardian critic Michael Billington discusses the recent resignation of Robyn Archer as Artistic Director of Liverpool's 2008 City of Culture festival. The important paragraph:

"This raises a much bigger question. Who is best equipped to run a city's cultural jamboree? Without being unduly parochial, I'd suggest it is someone with an understanding of local needs. Robyn Archer made a big success of Adelaide in 1992, as Jim Sharman had in 1982, because she was clued in on Australian tastes. But, intriguingly, the American director, Peter Sellars, was invited to succeed Robyn in Adelaide and was eventually forced to quit. The irony is that Sellars, an artistic and political radical, tried to give Adelaide a "local" festival: one based on an ambitious programme of South Australian films and Aboriginal art and drama. All very admirable; except that Adelaide, by virtue of its geographical isolation, looks forward every two years to the importation of some of the great orchestras and theatre companies from around the world. In short, it's a matter of horses for courses: festivals, in my experience, are best created by people who possess not just taste and vision but an awareness of the cultural context." (ital mine)

I would argue that this is not just true of festivals, but of all arts organizations, especially theatres. Look at the buzzsaw that Kevin Spacey is running into at the Old Vic. You must be aware of what a community needs, which means you must be a part of that community and not just a visitor.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Over at Que 23, Lucas discusses, in "Fractured Realities," the trend in life and art toward a fractured and dissociated self. He concludes:

Technologies like email, blogging and so forth carry with them a high risk. They risk separating the physical self from the intellectual and emotional self. As we begin to see trends in this direction in our art we must further look for ways out. How might it be possible to reconnect these fractured realities. What
might we rebuild out of these fragments of the world? What would the mash-up between an ideology of hate and an ontology of acceptance look like? We stand poised to transform the void from a pit of death to profound revelation. Are we
brave enough to bind these shards of the reality together and let the healing begin?

To me, this is where theatre steps in. While I could be accused of being a one-note guy (to a man with a hammer the whole world looks like a nail), to my mind the liveness of theatre can fight the fracturing by bringing bodies and minds together into a room at a specific time and, through that confluence, forges a community. Isn't it the dissolution of community, the sense of being here now and being here now with specific people that form your world, the first step toward community? And couldn't the sense of community be expanded outward to include larger and larger parts of the world?

Think Again: Funding and Budgets in the Arts

Every once in a while, I think I'll post a link or two to posts written earlier in the life of Theatre Ideas that seem worth revisiting ...