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04/11/2011

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Badsoviet

I don't think your former friend is fundamentally incorrect - but he's the same guy that is bemoaning the gray-ing of the audience. It's exactly what Boal was fighting against, the tyranny of coercive drama that mostly tells us what we want to hear.

The thing is, he doesn't _have_ to be correct. There are companies like Minnesota's TEN THOUSAND THINGS or Detroit's THE HINTERLANDS that perform in varying spaces and with different production practices.

Unfortunately, most of what I see in the industry-of-theater has already ceded the territory you speak of. It's all for good reasons - we want career advancement, we want to be paid for our work, we want to be respected. So we work and strive and sell our plays (or produce them) so that we price out some potential audience members.

I could go on, but I'm sure someone else can fill in the white space better.

Sylvain

1. Theater needs space, willing participants and light. These things can be found for free all over the world. The more you can control these three things, the easier it is to control the result (note I said easier not easy). Money can help you control these three things.

So money is nice but not necessary. In my experience money usually has a negative effect on theater because it usually leads to lazy solutions rather than the brilliance born of limited resources.

I should say that I like my theater a little out of control and I dislike realistic sets.

B. I think for some people money is easy. I've met them. They aren't happier than me because for them something else is hard. Something like love or friendship or ideas. I think that's what Maria's mom was saying.

For example, someday one of your boys will have some friend over for dinner and they'll say "It'll all work out, as long as I can keep coming up with ideas." Of course you'll respond by saying that ideas are easy, they're the easiest thing in the world to get.

That's true for you, Paul. In fact you have more ideas than anyone I know. On top of that, most of them are really interesting.

III. Your former friend is an ass. Or maybe he was just trying to get you riled up.

Tommer Peterson

If one decides to limit what "theater" means to only productions in LORT houses, then your friends has a point. If you decide on a broader definition, then the sky is the limit.

What seems to often limit the creative boundaries of the work is this built-in, and widely accepted, assumption that all work has to be produced to the Nth degree of over-the-top production values. Don't get me wrong, I love fully realized productions, and Seattle is full of the talent to do this. But, if a company opts to ONLY to fully realize every offering, then the number of offerings goes down when money is scarce. And, money is scarce, and like to continue to be so.

If I may sit half a bun on your soapbox for a moment, I would wonder why the financially struggling theaters don't offer a wider range of productions - some readings, some workshop productions, some minimally produced, and some fully produced. It seems like a menu of options like this would allow a company to present maybe twice the number of works in a season, and give their audiences a richer experience in the range of offerings - including the magic of hearing new work in development.

--------

Here's another thought on this. The nonprofit arts organization model just might be the dinosaur of its time. This system has only been around for less than a generation, and it might turn out to have been an unworkable idea.

Paul Mullin

Johnny, thanks for your thoughts and kind words. I consider your compliments to be the highest of praise, coming as they do from a man who helped to found two of the most vibrant alternative theatres in two of the most vibrant theatre cities in the world. I speak of course of Annex Theatre in Seattle and Sacred Fools in LA.

Paul Mullin

Badsoviet, thanks for your reply. I feel obliged to tell everyone who doesn't know that you are Kurt Hartwig. One of my good friends and followers here pointed out that you had left your comment under semi-anonymous circumstances.

I have a long-standing, ardently defending policy of no anonymous comments here.

Paul Mullin

And Tommer, thanks for your comment. Your insights are always so so welcome here.

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