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01/14/2010

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Bill Salyers

You never hesitate to make bold prognostication, my friend. Your crystal ball is far clearer than mine. What if said volume is greeted not with a bang or a whimper... but a yawn?

Paul Mullin

I don't know, Bill. I buy you a steak dinner maybe?

I'm seeing a lot of synergy out there though. I mean A LOT!

Scott Walters

Thanks for the compliments, Paul. I just discovered your blog recently, and recognized a kindred spirit, right down to the bare-knuckled writing style. Glad to meet you and your readers!

Carl Sander

Paul -- You’re doing a hell of a job serving as a local portal for the conversation. I have little interest in wading in on a national level, I love to be kept informed, but when I read “The Guthrie” my eyes glaze over. From 1981 -1994 I read every issue of American Theatre cover to cover, but what goes on in Milwaukie, Portland, NY or Maine no longer holds my attention. We’ve got enough troubles here at home and the local solutions seem to be the ones that are sticking.

Can we assume that your site will continue to serve as a clearinghouse? And that you are going to continue with your “let’s make Seattle a world class theatre town in five years or bust” campaign?

Paul Mullin

Carl, I do indeed intend to keep the tenor of most of these posts tight to the subject of making Seattle great. Of course, Scott Walters makes a great argument about localization being key, so I'll take and pass on a great argument for that from North Carolina or Timbuktu.

He also makes a great cogent explication of how we got screwed into these toadying NYC-centric and asinine anglophilic mindsets in the first place. Always good to know where the poison comes from so you can avoid it when they try and spew it at you again. And I don't think we've seen the end of the spew, or even, really, the beginning of the backlash.

But we're ready for it. And there's nothing like the power of nothing to lose.

Dennis Baker

Paul,

I was in your shoes about a year ago when I stumbled onto Walter's blog. Good stuff indeed. When you have time, pour through the blog posts he organized under the various topics for the Theatre Tribe model: http://tribaltheatre.pbworks.com/

Louis Broome

If you're not going to read this entire post, read the last sentence.

Before working at Microsoft I was a

Bus boy
Bartender
Contractor's bitch
Surgical orderly
Hair Salon Manager
High School Drama Teacher
Airport Limo Driver
King County Land Plat Office Word Perfect Wiz
Receptionist

And in-between all of the above were countless acting and directing jobs. I've been a singing and dancing salt shaker. For the love of God, I did MIME!!!!

KCTS was the first gig that became something like a career, the first that offered reasonably good health care. In the NYTs article today, there was a quote about bad teeth. My teeth are something like 50% fillings. KCTS was good, I learned a lot - like how stunningly dysfunctional .orgs can be.

My current job is not all that comfy. I like it, but it can be brutal. I work with super smart people. Smart people can be fun, but they're also a constant reminder of how I have a BFA in fucking ACTING!!! I like that I make decent money. Growing up, we had no money. Poverty sucks. I like that I can support child development programs in my old neighborhood.

Ten years in a for-profit corporation has taught me that the world is full of smart, ambitious, creative, inventive people who dream up crazy things, make them a reality, sell them and MAKE MONEY. I swear, the only difference between most .com entrepreneurs and most of the theater people I know is that the entrepreneurs' have better imaginations. They don't limit the possibilities. They never accept the status quo.

We are living in a time when great, GREAT stories are being told - stories that are thematically driven, explore universal themes, have broad appeal and exert an influence on our culture. The vast majority are being told in the vital forms of our time, TV and film. Our theater is a future footnote. That footnote will describe how the film industry extended the brand of their most successful properties by turning them into Broadway musicals.

If you want theater to be relevant, figure out a way to make it profitable. If you want to ensure its continued irrelevance, keep bitching at the not-for-profits.

Paul Mullin

Well of course, Louis, I have to read your WHOLE post. It's on my blog. And you know that I'm not yet convinced either for or against this "it-must-be-for-profit-or-it-simply-must-not-be" mantra. It feels a little like saying, we must put a man on the moon within a year or we can never explore space again. Or worse, it feels a little like saying theatre, like health-care, is for those who can afford it.

And as for the "theatre-has-always-and-only-thrived-in-a-strictly-for-profit-model" argument, that doesn't sound right either. It was nearly always subsidized to some extent by the aristocracy. They weren't called the "King's Men" for nothing. Moliere got plenty of help from the royals. Chekhov was basically a dilettante in the theatre, making his money as a writer from his short stories.

I don't say this to defend the non-profit model. I say it to spur you to give us your alternative model instead of just rhetoric, something of which I do not lack my own ample supply, as you and others have so aptly pointed out.

So, let's see the models please. I'll take a napkin sketch at this point. Otherwise, we're just peddling separate irrelevancies, and it seems like people would rather hear me bitching at the Big Houses. We're supposed to give the people what they want, right? Supposed to entertain and not just be important, right? ;-)

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