Sunday, January 08, 2012

Build a New Model

The arrival of a new year often leads to reflection on what has passed, and as a result points to new directions for what is to come in the future. For a theatre blogger who has been writing over 6 years, this is particularly true.

For a few weeks, I was considering discontinuing Theatre Ideas. Over the time I have written it, I have questioned many aspects of the theatrical status quo, and proposed ways to make it better. I have participated in important discussions, and written a few posts that have garnered  thousands of hits. And I have received several invitations to participate in convenings and submit grants as a result of writing this blog. As a result of writing this blog, my own ideas have come into greater focus.

What was getting me down is that nothing seems to really change. A topic rises to the forefront of everyone's consciousness, there is a certain amount of heat, a much smaller amount of light, and then -- pffftt! The discussion is over, and everyone goes back to talking about how to use Facebook and Twitter to market their productions, as if the only thing standing in the way of a vibrant theatre scene is just finding a way to get the word out. We're all for diversity -- yay! -- except don't ask us to do anything different. We're all for theatre for everyone -- yay! -- except don't ask us to do anything to promote it. We're all for new plays -- yay! -- but don't ask us to give up our classics. We're all for a more even distribution of funding -- yay! -- but don't actually take any money away from the richest institutions. The power of inertia seems to be bred in the bone.

It is time for me to take seriously the Buckminster Fuller quotation in the sidebar of this blog: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." I have spent six years fighting the existing reality, which regardless remains stubbornly unchanged. My focus must now be on building a new model.

As many of you know, I have received funding to create a CRADLE pilot program in Bakersville, NC (pop 357), where I will be moving within the next few months. That is a concrete attempt to create a new model. I will blog about that process on the CRADLE blog.

I've also decided to organize my thoughts and ideas into a book with the working title "Small is Artful," which I may create a separate blog for. The book will address issues of scale in theatre as it impacts everything from location to business model to aesthetics to production methods. Whether I will publish this book myself or through a traditional publisher remains to be seen. Hell, whether I find the time to write it remains to be seen. Suffice to say that it is time to bring together the research and ideas that I have expressed over the years on this blog and put them into a more formal, organized, and portable format.

I'll continue to write here and on the CRADLE blog (where my absence has gone on for too long), but my thoughts will be focused forward to a new model, rather than engaging the current one.

Ascendance, Descendence, Reverence, and New Beginnings

In an essay entitled "The Deep Voice" in his book Rebuilding the Front Porch of America (a book that I recommend everyone in the ...