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06/01/2011

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Jeremy M. Barker

Not to entirely be a bitch, Paul, but I'm going to dissent from the ethos of "just do a show." I think that's a dumb, wrong-headed mindset that keeps Seattle in the dark ages. People always think making work is the most important thing to do, because they're artists and that's what artists do. But I'm actually pretty bored with artists pointing fingers at everyone else and blaming others for the failures of art in production. If Seattle's not actually a world class theater town, it's not just because audiences aren't properly engaged, the ADs at the big houses ignore local artists, and so on. It's also because most of the work sucks.

Now I'm not directing this as a criticism at you--you seem to get this. But honestly, the difference between Portland and Seattle (where Seattle comes out on top), and Seattle and New York (which I think is one of your World Class Theater Towns) is a matter of infrastructure and support. Portland has none. Seattle is luckier than it deserves. The loss of 4Culture would have been a death-blow to important art being made there. An entire generation would have been screwed. People who think the death of the Fringe Fest set Seattle theater back would have had their minds blown.

So maybe the thing to take away is that more work needs to be done to create opportunities for work to be made by others rather than just making whatever work can be pulled off. I just found out about an effort in Minneapolis for about 8 or 10 smaller independent theater companies to pool marketing and development resources in order to try to stream-line the process. I'm skeptical, but really, that's one of the more realistic and ambitious plans I've heard about lately. We need more of that: better support, better infrastructure, more organization, and less ego. Fuck doing shows; most of them aren't good anyway. In a world class theater town, sometimes you gotta grow up. What the arts needs is less argument, less art, and more adults to ensure that support and opportunity exist for the artists who really have the need to say something. And that's in desperately short supply, as even an occasional outside observer would note.

Paul Mullin

Well said, Jeremy. As always, I appreciate your thoughts.

We certainly do seem to be thinning out infrastructure just when we should be reinforcing it and building more. But that also sounds like the nation at large, and not just in the arts.

I am literally almost constantly haunted by the question: "What should I be doing?" And my bio/cv reflects my different answers at different times. Just Wrought was my answer a year and a half ago. Now, not so much. Honestly, the best I can come up with at this particular moment (large, like I say in the post) is a respectful zen "nothing".

Scot Augustson

Paul, first, thank you for sharing the Borges quote, it was beautiful and inspiring.
OK, when I said "Shut up and put on a show." First, it wasn't directed specifically at you. And second, yes, it was the end of the day and I was being flip and dismissive. You know I have a snarky side.
Can I clarify?
OK, sometimes when we set out after something big, like making a place a world class theater town, it's a problem best met not head on. The solution will instead emerge from the work we do, from the community (And yes, I hate the overused word community) we create. If we grab for it, it will always elude us.
Lastly (no, not lastly forever, just lastly right here) it made me happy you used the phrase "good friend."

Paul Mullin

Thanks, Scot,

"OK, sometimes when we set out after something big, like making a place a world class theater town, it's a problem best met not head on. The solution will instead emerge from the work we do, from the community."

I do think there's huge truth to that. Which is a big part of the reason I'm going to shut up for a while. I was starting to get that "rope-pushing" feeling. Whatever momentum might come will come without me yelling for it from the sidelines. And that's where I will be for awhile, show-less and no prospects of one.

Good friend. Always.

Scot Augustson

Good friend...with benefits?

Louise Penberthy

I hope this is just temporary. I can't help thinking it is. You have too much energy and too many things to say to retire forever.

Do something you've never done before, maybe. Take a letterpress class at Pratt or learn how to rock climb. Or play the trumpet.

Sometimes, you can just get burned out.

Paul Mullin

Thanks, Louise. That's very sweet of you to say.

los angeles seo

As many of my friends who like to argue with me point out, theatre will always survive.

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