Thursday, August 6, 2009

In or Out

Tony Adams weighed right in here and I wanted to respond quickly, because I did leave out part of my point on that post. He connects it to the post about banana republics and asks a good question: why would anyone work there. Because it often totally sucks and leaves you burned out. One of the reasons I left the theatre I was working at was that I looked around at my co-workers and saw that the people who had been involved for ten years or more were largely emotionally warped and probably not fit for life outside of there. I didn't want to be those people, so I left. (Well, some other stuff happened, too, but that's beside the point.)

One of the things that Saul Alinksy talks about a lot in his book and, in his way, Isaac advocates, in terms of theatre, is joining the system to change it from within. Which is a noble goal, and, I do believe, in politics, possible. Hard, but possible. I think, in theatre, it's nearly impossible. Because the system is a series of contiguous nation-states run by despots who demand absolute loyalty. So, you choose one you want to work at, and you become a part of the system and try to make change, but, at the end of the day, only the people at the top make decisions. Malachy's story in the comments here is one we all know. It takes so long to get into those positions of real power in an organization, by then, your tastes and practices have calcified. You're not the firebrand you were when you came in as a literary manager. The system drains it out of you. There's a lot more of the system changing the person than the person changing the system.

But! I don't mean that it's all futile. There is starting your own theatre. I think the conversations we have out here in the blogosphere are key to that, because, in a lot of ways, we're wrestling with how to build better theatres. I just think we'd do even better to just forget about the "big guys," their weak seasons and poor decision-making and focus on building better mousetraps. I don't think it's useless to blog, or vent your spleen or share stories and ideas. I just think it's useless to think of it in terms of effecting change on any institution. It may be my own delusion I'm ridding myself of. My own fantasy that Oskar will finally call and put me in charge of artistic development. It ain't going to happen. And, in fact, if he found out I was writing this blog, it would be even less likely to happen. So...I should be looking at alternatives. We all should. But being quiet isn't one of them.

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