Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Draw a Line

For the past month or so, I have used most of my posts to explore the downside of the current regional theatre model. I have alternated data with history, and history with rants (Geezer rants, in Nick's memorable term) in my attempt to create a clear picture of the reasons why we would from an attempt to explore alternatives.

It is my impression that many of my readers have followed my arguments, and acknowledge many of the problems I mention, even if they personally prefer working within the status quo. After a month, I think I need to move on from the description of problems to the development of solutions. This is a much different project. It is fairly easy to describe what one is against, but much more of a challenge to describe what one is for. Nevertheless, it is a necessary step if the discussion is to progress beyond simply rehearsing the same kvetches that have been heard in bars and coffee shops for years.

So draw a line in your mind at this post. While there may be times when I will discuss what is wrong with the current system, my focus from her on will try to remain on possibilities and solutions. This will require that you read me in an entirely different way; you must join me as a collaborator.

Over the coming weeks, I will start developing some approaches and models that might help to achieve the overall goals. Some will, no doubt, strike some of you as misguided, and it is my hope that you will use my comments box to explain why. I ask only one thing: that you not base your reaction wholly on your own preferences writ large. If, for instance, I make a case for creating theatres in smaller cities, I hope you will not tell me that you would never do that because you just love big cities. That's a personal preference, and it is admirable that you are clear about your own life choices. I have no problem with that, and applaud you with enthusiasm. But there may be others who do not share your preference, and to use it as a reason for questioning the efficacy of a proposal, or even worse, to universalize your own preference as representing "most theatre people" ("I would never leave New York for a smaller town, and I think most theatre people share my aversion") is simply unhelpful. As Sir Toby says in Twelfth Night, "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"

Also, I will be posting things in a very preliminary stage -- very little will be polished or completely thought through. That is where you can help me to fine tune, or even start over completely if the medicine is worse than the disease. This will help enormously.

So the goals:

We will be working to create a model for theatre that does the following:

1. Gives theatre artists as a group control over the development of their artistic lives.

2. Provides sufficient opportunities for creative activity to help develop skills and vision.

3. Encourages a more even distribution of professional theatre in areas that have been historically underserved.

4. Allows people interested in focusing primarily on live theatre the means to do so.

5. Promotes a standard of living that provides individual security and increases lifestyle options.

6. Contributes to the development of distinctively American theatre and theatre artists.

Other goals may arise as this discovery process continues, but those will suffice at this stage. Some of the strategies that will be used to develop these models will include those listed to the right:
  1. Decentralization
  2. Localization
  3. Strengthening the artist-audience relationship
  4. Making a positive contribution to one's community
I would also add that part of my focus will be on the development of an educational model that could promote the knowledge and skills necessary to work within this model.

I hope you will join me as partners in this quest for a new theatre.


Anonymous said...

Bravo Scott, that was a post I needed to read. It's about time we started the theatrosphere 2.0. I'd say everyone's done as good a job as possible to articulate the many and varied problems with the current model of theatre all over the globe this past year, we all get it. Let's close the bitch session and open the solution session. It can still be as passionate and engaging as before, hopefully more so, but a commitment from all involved has to be made to make it progressive.

A sustainable theatre is possible, and closer than a lot of people think. It's just going to take a lot of discussion. Consider me on board.

Nick said...

I'm with you, Scott, as long you still provide us with a rant now and then.

Scott Walters said...

Well, I'm not saying that these posts won't be rants...just constructive rants! *L* Don't worry -- my style is pretty ranty, and hard to get past it.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to any rant/idea/pro-new wave of doing theatre in this tempestuous capital country of the USA.

Great work so far Scott !!!!! Really interesting data ! I would love to see it published.


Unknown said...

I'm with you, Scott, as you move from identifying problems and needs to exploring actions and solutions. I will try to provide a viewpoint from outside Nylachi. San Diego's very active theatre community is deeply rooted with about 100 active companies, according to one local theatre critic's estimate, that range from the well-known Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse to tiny embryo companies yet to complete their first public season. It's an exciting place to pursue artistic goals especially if the work itself is the goal.

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