Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What is to be done?

We all know it. We all know the problem. We all know the solution. What's the sticking point? What are we waiting for? At the very least, why aren't we, the theatre professionals and amateurs, the working stiffs and practioners, why aren't we howling in the streets, banging on doors, signing petitions? Is it really just apathy and fear and the seduction of the easy road? Is it self-interest?

This is all so very, very simple and we know it. I had a great conversation with a friend who works for a major foundation. And you bet your ass my friend knows it. The suggestion I got from my friend: write these people and these people and ask for meetings, go for lunches. What stops me from doing it? Is it cynicism?

It's like we're all stuck in this boat, this huge massive ocean liner and we see the iceberg, it's there, it's plain as day and we're steaming straight for it. We all know that we have to turn. Maybe some folks are thinking, "We can't turn fast enough." Maybe others are thinking, "If it's not this iceberg, it'll be something else." It could be, "The captain will never listen to us." There are definitely some thinking, "Get me a life raft out of here! We can make it to that island!" What are the rest of us thinking? Or are we just listening to the band? (Sorry, had to squeeze that in there, that's the rule, no Titanic metaphor is complete without the band. Re-arranging the deck chairs is optional.)

Whatever our reasons, we have to get over it and start making noise. Start speaking out, start making it change. We have to get over ourselves and get the ball rolling.


Anonymous said...

ok, I take your questions as rhetorical, but all this blog-bashing of theater when I see it so differently is depressing me, and so, I thought I'd offer my small answer to....

"the theatre professionals and amateurs, the working stiffs and practioners, why aren't we howling in the streets, banging on doors, signing petitions?"

It starts with stealing the old nyc saying, "we don't pay retail". I mean, nothing feels more like being a part of the community than getting comp'ed into a show. And folks in the community know all the ways to get discounts -- there are more of them now than ever before ($25 for Passing Strange on Bway - my god, GO!). TDF now has competition! Also, many company productions have "pay-what-you-can" nights or 99cent sundays. AEA members and anyone with a biz card who just says they're rep'ing a theater must be let in free to any AEA showcase. And OB companies are often looking for folks to sit in on final dress rehearsals, if you know where to look.

So, if you're in the community, howling just isn't necessary; it only takes a couple of phone calls for house seats. Of course the wildly popular shows are difficult, but I just don't feel like i'm on some careening ocean liner - maybe i'm paddling my lil' dingy to the hidden gems (Aisling Arts this weekend anyone?). I hope everyone in the community is shopping for the great deals - there are more of 'em out there than ever.

99 said...

The individual deals are great, and the hush-hush low tickets are a good thing. I understand why commercial producers don't really advertise those, though. It isn't just about whether or not I'm getting to see shows; it's the bigger picture. The audiences are getting older, which makes the theatres more timid, which limits the opportunities, which makes the plays less interesting. This is the cycle we need to break. Sure, if I want to go see shows every night of the week and pay pennies, I can swing it because I know people. But people who don't know people, who don't get the inside scoop on discounts and freebies, they get left out. We, as theatre artists, should be howling in the streets not for our own cheap tickets, but for everyone.