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Showing posts from June 22, 2008

Kudos to Dennis Baker

Great letter to American Theatre, Dennis! My contribution below:
While Teresa Eyring's editorial "How Theatre Save America, Part 1" highlights the wonderful artists of the Network of Ensemble Theatres, and pays particular attention to the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, whose long-time member Elizabeth Down I had the pleasure of sharing a post-show panel discussion with following Mike Diasey's June 15th performance of How Theatre Failed America, the fact is that American Theatre Magazine devotes all too little of its space to such regional ensembles. A tally of your recent issues reveals a fixation on theatres in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and even when you do feature a theatre not from those areas the article is usually written by a writer from New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Perhaps the real title of Daisey's piece ought to be How American Theatre Failed American Theatre. Your magazine needs to walk your talk, Ms, Eyring. You and your magazine could be …

A Reminder

Thanks to Andrew Taylor at the Artful Manager for drawing my attention to this Ted speech by conductor Benjamin Zander. Zander talking about classical music, and the pure joy and hope and
belief in the music combined with an ability to explain it so that others can experience what he hears is just amazing.




Watching this is a reminder to me to focus on what is important. If I could do what Zander does, and explain things in such a way as to make the experience of a play magical, I would be making such a difference. And if I could nurture within myself Zander's attitude, which I have at my best, I could lead so much better and teach so much better.


It is so very hard to focus on the love and not on the irritation, to focus on what is right instead of what is wrong. I fall into the anger and frustration and forget about the fact that most people are of good will and are trying. Perhaps the goal is to surround yourself with things that remind you of this, so that you can stay afloat as…

Figure and Ground (A Response to a Question from Don Hall)

In Don Hall's post yesterday. he asked a question of "The Prof" that apparently I was actually supposed to answer (I thought it was rhetorical). Here's the question:

"And, if what the Prof says is true - that I have a responsibility to the community in which I live - is my responsibility to provide art that is "in the public's interest" or to provide art that "the public is interested in?"

I'm going to try to rephrase this sentence as I understand it. If I get it wrong, I hope Don will correct me and then I'll try again. Let's start with the premise that an artist has a responsibility to the community. While phrased in terms of the artist, I think all people, artist or not, have a responsibility to improve their community (even if that is just one other person), and thus through the ripple effect the world. However, there are many ways to improve a community (not simply through addressing socio-economic issues, for instance, whi…

Art as Muscle

Fantastic post by Andrew Taylor at The Artful Manager entitled "A Thought to Chew On." Here is a highlight, but to fully understand it, you need to grasp the context by reading the whole post. Then do a mashup: read Don Hall's recent post "Push/Pull: The Bitter With the Sweet" and figure out how the two posts intersect:

Art and artistic expression shouldn't be the jewelry of society, it should be part of the blood, part of the muscle, and part of the bone. When our strategies set us apart from the world so that we can be separately admired, supported, and valued, we shouldn't be surprised when we are perceived as separate.
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Resource Review 2: The Actor's Other Career Book

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I ran across Lisa Mulcahy's 2006 book The Actor's Other Career Book: Using Your Chops to Survive and Thrive at my university's library, and I grabbed it with great relief. As any of you who have followed this blog in the past know, one of the ideas that is part of the theatre tribe model is that the tribe coordinated the ancillary income, of what I call "And Then." This idea is that theatre artists have many talents and skills that are valuable, and that it is wiser for the tribe to receive the benefit of those skills and talents instead of outside employers. Mulcahy had the same idea.

Her book is really a testimony to the work of the Actors Work Program, which is part of the Actor's Fund. According to the AWP website:

The Actors Fund’s Actors Work Program (AWP) assists entertainment industry professionals in identifying and finding sideline work and new careers. AWP is a comprehensive employment and training program committed to fostering resiliency and self-r…

Resource Review 1: Invitiation to the Party

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First in a series.

I just finished Donna Walker-Kuhne's Invitation to the Party: Building Bridges to the Arts, Culture and Community, which is an excellent starting point for theatre artists interested in developing a more diverse audience for their productions. Walker-Kuhne, who was head of audience development for the  Public Theatre and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, clearly outlines a general approach to diversifying your audience that is based on an ongoing relationship based on trust and dialogue. She outlines "ten tools for building audiences":

1. Investment. Putting in the time and effort necessary for a future return -- this is not a short-term fix, but a long-term commitment.

2. Commitment. You must be creative, tenacious, and focused.

3. Research. Quantitative and qualitative researcg tells you who the audience is.

4. Educating Your Artists and Audiences. So often we focus on educating the audience without noting that it is crucial that artists be informed and commi…

Resource Review 1: Invitiation to the Party

Image
First in a series.

I just finished Donna Walker-Kuhne's Invitation to the Party: Building Bridges to the Arts, Culture and Community, which is an excellent starting point for theatre artists interested in developing a more diverse audience for their productions. Walker-Kuhne, who was head of audience development for the  Public Theatre and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, clearly outlines a general approach to diversifying your audience that is based on an ongoing relationship based on trust and dialogue. She outlines "ten tools for building audiences":

1. Investment. Putting in the time and effort necessary for a future return -- this is not a short-term fix, but a long-term commitment.

2. Commitment. You must be creative, tenacious, and focused.

3. Research. Quantitative and qualitative researcg tells you who the audience is.

4. Educating Your Artists and Audiences. So often we focus on educating the audience without noting that it is crucial that artists be informed and commi…