« Who should go to the OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE Discussion? Marketing Publicity Managers | Main | Who should go to the OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE Discussion? Playwrights »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Louis Broome

I'm taking a strong stance on the money because it’s the crux of the issue. And because dumping an accelerant on your fire is fun.

My theater hero - besides you, Mullin, I mean - is Walter Kerr. His book, How Not to Write a Play, is a must-read for anyone reading this.

Kerr, writing in 1955, places our present predicament within a useful context – theater history. "I don't think he will find it there, any more than he has found it in the antipopular theatre of the last sixty years or so. Minority theatres never have produced important work. Every great play we have ever been lucky enough to feast our eyes on has come out of a popular playhouse." By “popular,” Kerr means for-profit, and by “he,” Kerr means critic Eric Bentley, who championed what Kerr derides as, "...a serious theatre that always meant to play to a limited audience, a theatre for the enlightened few." Fifty-odd years later, we remain a minority theater playing to an ever more limited audience.

Outrageous Fortune touches on money in a footnote. [Full disclosure: I’m only up to page 28] Here’s the sentence: “The prevalent system of nonprofit theatre squelches its leaders’ tolerance for risk.” And here’s its footnote: “The irony that the not-for-profits, created to assume risks that the commercial sector can’t tolerate, have become so risk-averse, has been noted by playwrights and commercial producers alike. There may even be a growing sense that the commercial model, without boards and funders, offers independence and freedom not found often in the nonprofit world.”

A growing sense?

I’m not for the end of the Big Houses either. Nothing would be gained and much would be lost. The Big Houses present no threat or competition to anyone trying to create a popular, profitable and vital theater, and actors need a place to practice.

It might be that a not-for-profit model can be re-engineered to such a degree that most or all of the issues raised in Outrageous Fortune can be rectified. I'm betting against it, but it's a bet I'd enjoy losing.

In the end, it's always about the money. The theater is either at the mercy of funders and their tastes and whims, or it's in service to the mob. The mob has more money and better taste. As Kerr put it, "Drama is by its nature a mass art; the presence of the mass in the amphitheater is necessary not only to the financial stability of so complex an undertaking, but also, apparently, to its artistic validity."

Oh - I love you too.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

TypePad Profile

Get updates on my activity. Follow me on my Profile.
My Photo

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter