Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Connecting the threads...

I read a lot of blogs. I have a fairly dull day job with little actual oversight, so I roam the internets quite a bit. And, in part thanks to this blog, I've been reading a lot of theatre blogs. I mean, a lot of theatre blogs. (I really need to get a blogroll going one of these days.) So today I read this...

and this...

and this...

and this...

...and the wheels of my brain get rolling, clicking along, and I'm trying to take a step back and think: okay, so, what does all of this mean? How does this all work together? What's all of this saying about the state of things in our little part of the world?

Not to say that there's some secret behind it all, some single idea that addresses it, but...okay, there's obviously some serious pay scale inequity going on. And there could well be some shifting of priorities needed. There are a number of overlapping issues, questions and problematic things that pop up. And make sure to check out the comments, particularly here. That's the last bit that I was thinking about now.

So...the audiences are bored, too. The artists are frustrated. The administrators are feeling hamstrung. The critics are wondering where the fire is. So...okay, what's working? Exactly? I know we're getting good plays sometimes. Is that enough? Can we expect more? Should we?

It does feel like Scott is right. (How often do I say that?) At the root is the economic inequity and expectations. You have a major institution, a major board and they expect things from their CEO. It puts the top executives in a very different economy from the rest of the organization. But there's something else...

I might be assumptions. We're all making assumptions about how things are, what the audiences want, what the artists want and we're not talking to each other quite enough, not asking each other the questions. And we're all assuming that individuals won't/can't change it. It seems that enough people are frustrated and unhappy. Something's got to give.

2 comments:

John said...

It's not complicated, 99.

Theater people don't run the theater anymore.

When chefs don't run the restaurant, the food begins to suck.

When basketball people don't run the team, you get the New York Knicks.

Lawyers and advertising guys and other rich, well-meaning people run the American theater.

It's just cyclical and its starting to cycle back.

But ten thousand little fixes won't do the trick, they'll just postpone the inevitable death knell.

Theater people need to run the theater, again.

RLewis said...

99, we must work at the same day-gig, cuz i'm right with you on the too much time spent reading these blogs, but please do not lump me in either the frustrated or unhappy camps.

The blogs are seeming a lot like list-serves. If you've ever been on one long enough, you've seen how it eventually brings out the worst in us. We love bitchin'. I do too.

But there is so much great stuff happening in the theater today. And so much more of it. There is great theater for folks with lots of dough as well as great theater for folks with lil'. We have a slew of "Priceline"-type places where anyone who wants to spend the time can get the cheap seats. And if not, pay retail - the theater needs folks who pay retail.

But it brings me to the kind of theater that we do want to have - seems to be your question. I think it's one that makes the democrats look like Musolinis. Most theater folks I speak with like anarchy more than I. We like our mess. We like being the place were anyone, no matter the peculiarity, is accepted. I doubt that we want to be run like clockwork despite having the best ontime delivery in the nation (the show does go on!)

I feel John's frustration above, but I would say that Theater people, primarily, do not want to be businessmen/women. If we want to do good spreadsheets and type a lot we wouldn't be making theater. It's a problem for Scott's Tribe idea - Theater folks do not want to do everything - that's why we got into theater in the first place. We want to see ourselves onstage or our writing, or direct, or design, but we do not want to pay-out vendors, draft contracts, balance budgets, or kiss funder butt... again, and again...

I'm proud of our mess and the terrific people running it - both the theater folks and the lawyers and advertisers who love it (they can make more money doing something else). I do not want to give the reins to some Isiah Thomas the way the Knicks did - I like him better when he's just playing the game in front of sold-out houses.