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07/15/2011

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Jim Jewell

I want Rebecca Olson to speak at Seattle Theatre: What's Next? Can you help make that happen?

Paul Mullin

Jim, I bet ya she's going to read these comments, but just in case, I'll also make her aware of your request personally.

Patrick Lennon

Rebecca Olson is my hero.

Paul Mullin

Yup, Patrick. She's my heroin too. Wait! Heroine!

Seattle Theatre's lucky to have her.

Patrick Lennon

And, incidentally, she's dead on.

Which companies in town are breaking box office records? Seattle Shakes, Book-It, Taproot. They've got clear missions, and audiences flock to them.

Which of the Big Two is the most successful? ACT, because they've figured out who they are. Why is the Rep not far behind? Because they're in the process of figuring out who they are again, and doing a fine job of it so far.

Why are the Big Three suddenly the Big Two? Well, a decade of financial mismanagement, yes, but also because of an artistic grab-bag on stage. "Whatever the hell Sher-iskey thinks is fun today" is not a mission.

Ryan Higgins

I had the privilege of spending a week working with Rebecca recently and this became a much touched upon topic of discussion around the campfire at night. Essentially her thoughtful analysis and informed presentation did more in a week to change how I viewed a theatre's mission, than anything else I can recall presently. I certainly hope she comes and speaks at Jim's forum. We need clear voices like hers right now. She gets 2 "Fuck yeahs" (way better than thumbs up).

Tom Elliott

Rebecca is absolutely right. I'd throw the Group Theatre into that picture, too, another solidly professional theatre with a clear multicultural mission/niche. Some of its demise may be attributed to the departure of Tim Bond, but in the early 90's we also saw the Rep/Intiman/ACT carve out one show per season that was about (or might appeal to) a particular ethnic/cultural group, in the interest of "expanding the audience." The Intiman under Warner Shook produced Angels in America, which would typically have been material that the Rep or ACT would produce. Competition replaced symbiosis.

Couple that with diminishing philanthropy from individuals (compared to corporate philanthropy - also diminishing - that always seems to have strings attached), you have all the conditions for a slow bleed.

Bret Fetzer

While Rebecca's argument is beautifully articulated, and I am completely in agreement that this blurring of mission has led to homogeneity in the theater scene, I'm not sure it's true that this has contributed to a decline in attendance. (Actually, she may not be arguing that, I think I'm responding to Patrick Lennon more than Rebecca, really.)

I don't know what the attendance figures are at the Rep or ACT, but several people who worked at Intiman say that they weren't lacking audiences; 'Ruined' in particular was a huge success, and overall attendance was consistent with their goals. The problem was mismanagement -- they spent more than they earned, not that they weren't earning enough at the box office. Even if they'd sold out every performance, they still wouldn't have overcome their debt.

Blurring your mission leads to less interesting art...but less interesting art doesn't necessarily lead to less audience, much as we artists would like to think it should.

Scot Augustson

Thank you Rebecca and thank you Paul for reposting.
(Although, I must say, wouldn't you love to see a Children's GLBT theater?)

Rebecca Olson

Thank you Bret – actually, I am in agreement with Patrick and I am arguing that a vague mission/homogenized season reduces audience attendance over time, both at individual organizations, and throughout the potential theatergoing community. If we can make some fundamental changes to the way our theaters focus their missions and choose their season, it will benefit all of us. Audiences become frustrated – not excited – when there is no rhyme or reason to an organization’s proposed season of plays. When someone just simply doesn’t like a particular kind of play, they are less likely to be loyal to a theater that always includes that type of play in their season (ie: the White People with White Problems comedy) which means few theaters with loyal subscriber bases. And when a large portion of the theaters in the community all have the same types of “eclectic” seasons, it is confusing for those single ticket buyers who aren’t as deeply entrenched as we are to know where to start, what play or theater to choose, or whether it would be better to just watch a movie (where you can at least watch the trailer.)

What I’ve seen over time from my work in arts administration, and what I know from my friends who are not in the theater community, is that audiences want to have a basic idea of what they are going to get if they are going to fork out money to see a show (which isn’t unreasonable.) When theaters are clear about what they do, they make it simple for audiences to choose them. If your theater does “Whatever we think is interesting in the moment, because we like to shake things up,” then audiences have no idea what to expect and are less likely to choose your show over a theater that offers a known quantity. They are also more likely to become loyal patrons when they aren’t asked to watch a genre that doesn’t appeal to them. Some people just don’t like the Greeks.

The reason why theaters like 5th Avenue and Seattle Shakespeare are so financially successful is because you can a) subscribe to both theaters and see something completely different at each, and also b) know basically what kind of theater experience you’re in for that evening when you walk in the doors. They aren’t competing for an audience, and they are offering consistently excellent work that is a known quantity for their audiences.

If someone came to me right now and said “Where can I see new work that is relevant and edgy?” I would be hard pressed to know where to send them, for certain. I’d have to check the listings and ask people if there was any new work being produced right now, and then research the theater and possibly the playwright – and I still wouldn’t feel confident making that recommendation since I don’t have personal experience with a local theater that consistently produces excellent, new, edgy work. Obviously it’s always going to be a risk to buy a ticket to live performance; the potential for suckage is always there. But if you have a track record, people (myself included) are more willing to take that risk with you.

An analogy is how most people choose what live music they are going to see. If you are an artistic ensemble/organization, then you are the band (not the venue). You can’t build a fan base if one night you play bluegrass, and then next month you try hip-hop just because you’ve always wanted to try it. By all means, do a side project to stretch yourself artistically – but give yourself a different name, and don’t confuse your bluegrass audience. Instead, you should reward them for their loyalty by giving them that sweet, excellent bluegrass over and over again, which is why they love you in the first place. Then, once they are loyal, see if you can coax some die-hard fans over to the hip-hop side. You will hopefully build an entirely new/different fan base with your side project, which is awesome; now you have two successful projects. But if you force-feed the two genres to each other, you’re likely to lose everyone.

To address the Intiman Issue, I absolutely do not believe that the fall of Intiman is due wholly to this one error, nor do I think it was their biggest error. I think it is fairly clear at this point that systematic mismanagement of money is the primary reason for the Intiman’s demise. However, I do believe that it played a part. For example, while overall attendance might have been “consistent with their goals,” I would be interested to know how their goals changed (or if they did), and how overall audience numbers from the last few years compared to the overall audience numbers of 10 or 20 years ago. I would also be interested to know how the ticket demographics changed (long-term subscribers vs. single tickets vs. last minute/rush tickets vs. papering the house.) And ultimately, had they had a stronger mission and filled a niche in Seattle that mattered, there would have been an uproar like there was over Empty Space’s mismanagement and demise (and with their potential funding base, a more likely chance of recovery) – rather than the "sigh and shrug" they seem to be getting from the local community at this time.

Gillian Jorgensen

Hello, all.

I'm jumping in a bit late here, comments-wise, but here goes.

I am in complete agreement that organizations need to have a clear and specific mission. I don't, however, think that such a mission dictates only one flavor of theatre. It's more likely to do that for an organization producing classics, but from there? Choosing projects based on the season and subscription model isn't working and there isn't really a reason to force it to. While there are certainly supporters of theatre who do subscribe to seasons, the non-theatre-person audience member is more likely to choose to go to any single show because they have some personal connection to it. And once they do that and have a good experience then they might be inclined to see something else that theatre is doing. Or maybe they'll go to another theatre. But if they're going at all? Then there is success.

What ACT and The Rep have going for them right now is that they are paying attention to who is coming to and working at their theatres. They are doing this not by second-guessing what audience members who are not their surveyed supporters might possibly want to see, but by making it simpler to choose to attend and by increasing their ties with local artists.

Local artists have local connections. And we only have local audiences.

I would love to see larger organizations working together in a similar manner to how the education departments have: Seattle Rep, SCT, Book-it and Shakes have collaborated over the years to create Bringing Theatre into the Classroom. Ultimately, the classroom teachers who attend the event work specifically with artists from organizations that most fit what they need, but they are introduced to a form that all of the organizations utilize. Namely: the structure of theatre. We know what it is because we use it everyday. We shouldn't expect that those who do not to be as knowledgable as we are.

Which leads me to the reviews of children's theatre...

The best children's theatre is simply good theatre. Good theatre does tend to engage all members of its audience. The snag here is that parents will take their kids to something because they love their kids (or because they need a break...or both). Engaging all members of the audience doesn't mean including bits that are just for the adults because adults can't enjoy what producers believe kids will think is good. Does theatre intended for a GLBT audience insert a joke that doesn't really fit the show but because there might be one straight asshole in the audience? Do theatres producing Shakespeare stick in a line about a football game?

If they do, the are making lesser theatre, honoring neither the audience, the play itself or the artists producing it. They're basically saying "we apologize that you had to come to see this just because you brought someone you loved."

You know what makes a better offer than an apology for your art? Good art. A comfortable space. Liquor. Sunshine. The company of others.

Rebecca Olson

Gillian – thank you for your comments. Just to clarify, I'm not suggesting that the mission dictate a specific flavor of theater. One of the examples I used above was "new work by Northwest playwrights" which could include an infinite number of possibilities (but is still specific.) Another mission could be "ensemble generated work" or "modern classics" or "small cast, character driven plays that draw on the strengths of our local acting community." All of these are specific missions that leave the door wide open for exploration and growth, but give the audience a sense of what they will see at that theater.

And while I completely agree that the subscription model might be broken, my point is that a loyal audience base (which a lot of people understand as "subscribers") is built through producing consistently excellent work that is based on a clear mission that the audience understands. I'm not suggesting that a theater pick a mission based on what they think their audiences might want to see (which is what I think has resulted in the opposite problem: a grab bag of something for everyone.) I am suggesting that a theater/artists must determine what they 1) Have to offer the community that is not already being offered and/or 2) What they do best, and choose this as their mission (and resulting seasons). Unless I’m misreading what you’ve said, I think that we agree on this. You’ve stated that what is working right now for the Rep/ACT is that they have stopped trying to second guess what people (who are not their audience) might possibly want to see, and have started choosing seasons based in part on what has been successful with their current audience, which includes tapping into the talent of local artists to make a more immediate connection with the peice. That is exactly my point. I’m not implying that ACT should suddenly change its mission to only produce mid-century American classics written by white men. But it seems that they have risen from the ashes (in part) because they are now closely following their mission of producing contemporary work with promising playwrights and local performing artists; that’s a big enough spread to keep them busy and interesting, but doesn’t murk the water up with Marlowe and touring productions of John Denver musicals.

Obviously there will always be exceptions to the rule, and one theater/company might be the Beatles of Seattle theater and able to do a mish mash of styles and genres and centuries and still keep their audience. But I think it’s become fairly clear that this doesn’t work for most theaters, and isn’t a good recipe for a theater to be successful or create excellent work (especially new theaters/projects/ensembles just starting out). It seems logical to me that a theater creates the most excellent work when it focuses on what it does best, and then does that; whatever that may be.

And I completely agree that in addition to good art, comfortable seats and liquor are essential elements of good theater.

Gillian Jorgensen

Yep, I was pretty much agreeing with you and hoping for a clarification regarding mission statements and individual theatre companies.

I do think that "new work by Northwest playwrights" is too broad if you're talking about only one theatre being able to claim that as their mission, especially since that phrase only sort of tells theatre people what is being produced: the average non-theatre person wouldn't get much from it. And if only one theatre were allowed such a mission, then how many Northwest playwrights would actually be making a living?

There are more ways to stray from one's mission than to produce a play that is clearly outside of it. If a mission includes access, then it is important to find ways that encourage people to attend beyond what is on the stage: at some point someone's got to plunk down some cash.

That's the part of straying from one's mission statement that I can agree prevents people from giving up on becoming audience members. The other type could result in individuals giving up their subscriptions, but I don't really see that action as a bad thing or solely linked to either type of mission creep. Choosing what to do and see month-by-month or week-by-week or day-by-day is how people plan their lives in our saturated society.

There are an awful lot of people in Seattle and I think it's fair to assume that the majority of them don't attend live theatre. Theatres need to find ways to appeal to individuals on a show-by-show basis. If they do not, then they are not competing for *an* audience but for the *same* audience: those who are already willing to attend live theatre at a place with which they are already familiar. A true niche theatre isn't likely to draw out more than those who love, say, LARPing, but that doesn't mean that one show in a season or every other season might not appeal to a broader audience simply because it is a g-d amazing show.

I'm excited by the newer models offering memberships and PWYC because this acknowledges that the audience for each show is more important than the upfront cash subscribers can offer, that a support base can be built from individuals who become a community because they are in a certain place at a certain time, sharing something live and immediate.

And an audience member isn't really going to get the same thing at one theatre as another unless those organizations are producing exactly the same show in exactly the same style. Yes, it might be difficult to market the organization as a whole if similar types of theatre are produced, but it's individual productions that draw people in. "Come to this building" smacks a bit of theatre entitlement whereas "come see this show" has the possibility to truly woo a given individual.

I'm not really disagreeing with anything here, just hoping to expand on just whom within an organization should be held accountable for sticking to a mission statement. It's the staff who knows what it is, after all. Everyone else only need know what shows are available and how to see them (preferably in those comfortable seats with drink in hand).

And, Scot, I would love to see a GLBT show intended for a family audience.

Patrick Lennon

"There are an awful lot of people in Seattle and I think it's fair to assume that the majority of them don't attend live theatre. Theatres need to find ways to appeal to individuals on a show-by-show basis. If they do not, then they are not competing for *an* audience but for the *same* audience: those who are already willing to attend live theatre at a place with which they are already familiar."

There are two problematic ideas here, both of which I've argued against before. One is that there is this huge swath of non-theatregoers who could be turned into theatregoers if they would just see a show. I'll grant that there are some, but it is not worth spending your entire marketing budget trying to reach them.

Two is that there is one single mass "audience for theatre." Nope. There are people who only like Shakespeare. There are people who only like contemporary, intimate, small-cast plays. There are people who only like crazy, ensemble-generated art pieces. There are people who like several different things. And there are people who like most, if not all, forms of theatre. Book-It and WET do not compete for (very many) audience members, I guarantee you.

The value of a mission (or a "style", which I'll define as the audience's perception of a mission, since they rarely read or care about the actual mission itself) is that people who like what you do can feel comfortable returning. Once they've found you, you don't have to work that hard to market to them, and you can expend your efforts elsewhere (yes, on getting new patrons to your play).

The bottom line is this: there is an audience for the work that you do. And being consistent in your work is how you find it. That audience might be small, and you need to recognize that and plan financially for that.

Intiman failed because they lost their audience (which, I'd argue, was a result of 'mission creep' as Paul so eloquently puts it). Despite complete financial mismanagement, no amount of debt is insurmountable if the community wants the work that you do. Clearly, there were not enough people that wanted what Intiman did. Those individual patrons who made Ruined and Doctor.etc big box office successes were not regular, consistent Intiman theatregoers who cared about the organization. They just wanted to go see an individual show that seemed interesting.

Now perhaps what Gillian is suggesting is a complete abandonment of theatre "organizations" and for artists to band together on a show-by-show basis. I completely disagree, but that's not the argument we're having here. Missions, or the audience's perception of a mission, or whatever, are what keep companies alive. When you build a company that is the right size for your audience, you will be successful.

When you consistently break out of that mission in wild, unpredictable ways, you'll lose your core audience, and spend lots and lots of money trying to bring in new people. And that's a recipe for going under.

Gillian Jorgensen

Patrick, none of the things you are talking about above were things that I was advocating. I can understand how the "lot of people in Seattle" paragraph triggered arguments you've had in the past, but I was really just talking about how much it costs to attend any live production (except at ACT because they now have PWYC for every show).

Access is a part of a mission just as much as the art part. Not the type of access defined as guessing at what an "under-served" audience might want to see, but access offered just by making it easier to take the risk to attend in the first place.

(Paul, I know you're tired of talking about theatre in bars, but I sure prefer it. I like the faces and the interruptions and energy and actually knowing to whom I'm speaking.)

Jim Jewell

A lot of what Y'all are talking about is specificity of messaging. Maybe it is because this is my field and I love to heap abuse on myself, but I think marketing has failed theater in that we aren't crafting messages that can and will be heard and will motivate.

Is that easier when the theatre in question has a clear mission? Absolutely.

Patrick Lennon

Sorry about that Gillian - I didn't get that you were talking about cost of access. Wouldn't it be interesting if a company like the Rep chose to do one show every year completely PWYC (I believe the Shakespeare Theatre Company in DC does this), as a way to broaden access but still have the financial integrity to fulfill your mission 24/7/365?

In a general response to this entire discussion though, I still don't see the great "crisis" that everyone else seems to see. So I'm not sure exactly what discussion we're having in the first place, but that's just me...

Rebecca Olson

I want to start off by saying how delighted I am with this conversation and the thoughtful, articulate artists who have contributed so far. I agree with Gillian that I would love to see you all around a table at some point, preferably with a whiskey in my hand, so that the conversation was even more natural and spontaneous. What I think is that we are now getting down to semantics, but that we all basically are agreeing with each other (with a few caveats here and there) – and that in itself is quite amazing.

Patrick - I suppose it's a natural byproduct of any discussion thread that it'll move off in tangents and sometimes not find its way back to the original thread. Which is not necessarily a bad thing – it sometimes leads to other interesting conversations (for example, my original comment which was the beginning of this thread is actually a tangent from a completely different thread on Facebook.) That being said, my original post wasn't meant to infer crisis. Rather, it is a response to a general dis-ease and frustration that is permeating the community (and probably has been for some time – I don't mean to imply that we're in the middle of something new, nor do I think this is unique to Seattle alone – and I certainly don’t think my ideas are unique, considering they stem from my conversation with Melissa Hines several years ago.) I’m not sure where you sensed crisis, but I apologize if it came from me.

So in summary: I felt the need to contribute because I've found myself in a lot of conversations lately that center around the frustration of theaters dying off and/or the difficulty new theaters/projects have with getting off the ground. While there are obviously quite a few factors involved (including the fact that we are in the middle of a ginormous recession), it seems clear to me that there's a very simple solution for struggling theaters to consider when deciding how to move forward: basically, if we're going to be non-profit organizations, we must start with the premise that we exist to serve the community, and then do that, artistically. This obviously does not apply to those artists doing occasional one-off projects (which I also fully support and encourage as a part of a healthy theater ecosystem – I am speaking specifically to organizations.) We serve the community artistically by finding a strong, clear mission that offers something our community doesn't already have, and then complete that mission through excellent productions born of experience. On the flip side, we make it much more difficult on ourselves and our audiences when we aren't clear about who we are, why we're here, and why what we are doing matters – and that seems to be where a lot of theaters find themselves nowadays (I think Patrick was agreeing with me on this.)

In response to Gillian, I disagree that a theater that offered “new work by Northwest playwrights” as a mission would be too broad, nor do I think it would be difficult for audiences to know what they were getting. This theater would appeal to those who like new work (like those who frequented the Empty Space), and/or those who want to support local artists and the stories that reflect and matter to our specific region. Like Patrick said, people already know what they like. It’s not about converting those who don’t like theater into becoming theatergoers (while I completely agree that theater education is key to building future audiences, I’m referring to the adults we do or do not have as audiences right now); its about messaging (as Jim pointed out) what you do so that those who will like you know how to find you. And it’s about focusing yourself, so you can become artistically excellent through practice of what you do.

Also, I think I need to clarify that I’m referring to the basic, artistic mission of the theater (not the vision statement, or other guiding principles, which often include statements about accessibility, education, outreach, etc.) – I can see where perhaps that got lost in the conversation (and vision statements, 5 year plans, guiding principles – all of these things are very important; they just aren’t what I’m talking about.) What I’m asking is, what is it your theater does that is artistically different than other theaters? And my point is, if you don’t do anything artistically different than other theaters, then you are making it extremely difficult on yourself to become a lasting, artistically sound organization. While you have every right to give it a go, you are essentially competing with every other theater in Seattle for the same group of confused audience members sifting through the theater listings. You are also sentencing yourself to selecting a season from 2,000 years of theater, which is exhausting, and doesn’t allow you the chance to hone your artistic skills at that specific thing you already do well, that by repeating over time and through experience and feedback from both artists and audiences, will make you truly excellent.

Paul Mullin

*I* sure as hell think there’s a crisis going on. Even without the current depression, which would define a crises in any case, I don’t know how anyone can watch two of Seattle’s most important theatres die in the space of half a decade and not call that a crisis. I mean, please tell me what one would look like if this ain’t it.

And lord knows I love privately hashing this crap out over whiskey probably more than any of you, but it would behoove us all to remember that people are actually watching Seattle from all over the country (and even the world: Just Wrought was recently reblogged in the UK’s Guardian for pete’s sake). Those people not only care what Seattle theatre artists think, they also expect us to figure this out. That means Seattle can either matter in this great debate about theatre, or we will find ourselves not mattering for longer than most of us will still be living here or anywhere.

Yup. Those are the stakes folks. You’re absolutely welcome to disagree-- welcome to cheat them down to “relatively unimportant in the broad scheme of things”--but then I have to ask you, why are you even here reading this anyway?

Brandon Ivie

Not to be a downer, but I just want to make sure we don't forget that Empty Space and Intiman are not the only theatres we've lost in recent years...

Intiman (2011)
Giant Magnet/Seattle International Children's Festival (2011)
Northwest Actors Studio (2007)
Empty Space (2006)
Consolidated Works (2006)
Tacoma Actors Guild (2004)
Seattle International Fringe Festival (2004)
Union Garage (2004)
ACT crisis (2003)
Bathhouse Theatre (1999)
The Group Theatre (1998)
Alice B. Theatre (1997)
among others...

Paul Mullin

Thank you, Brandon!

I was vague and incomplete for the poor excuse of expediency. It's important, however, that the actual details be noted.

I'd add AHA! Theatre to that list, which stopped producing in 1997 I believe.

Patrick Lennon

But what about the list of companies that didn't exist in 1997 (an arbitrary date based on the earliest closure on that list), or at least didn't exist in their current form?

I'm talking about New Century, Strawshop, ArtsWest, Seattle Public, Balagan, WET, even Harlequin in Olympia made their jump into a bigger space around '97. And there are several other companies founded in the early 90's that are not only alive and kicking but are some of the most successful and important companies in town.

Companies come, companies go, people move to town, they move away. I would argue that, by and large, the work being done by defunct companies is being replicated elsewhere. That's how an ecosystem works. If the work wants to happen, it'll happen. If you think a specific company's work has been lost, and you want it back, go do it.

Regarding Intiman, I think it's too early to judge the outcome. Calling them one of Seattle's most "important" theatres depends on your definition of important. Artistically I don't think they were such, anymore. But in terms of paying, union jobs, they were. I've repeatedly said that losing one of the big 3 union houses permanently would be devastating. 5 years from now, if that void has not been filled, I'll call it a crisis. But imagine that Book-It and Shakes move into that space and bring those union jobs back. Imagine that New Century or Balagan moves into the Center House* and start to offer those consistent, though smaller, union jobs. Then what have we lost? The artistic product from Intiman? I'm over it.

Maybe it's my youthful idealism, maybe it's because I wasn't around for the "good old days"/the boom time in Seattle theatre, maybe I'm just stupid, but I don't see anything I would term a "crisis." We've got a fantastic, vibrant theatre scene, ridiculously active compared to the size of our fair city.

Could individual companies be healthier? Yes. Has the financial crisis necessitated changes in funding and producing models? In some cases. Is theatre a dying art form? Hell no.

I'm not advocating a lazy adherence to the status quo. I see individual cases that could use some help. But in the bigger picture, I don't see anything that will result in the end of theatre in Seattle without a community-wide call to action.

*I recognize that the Center House Theatre space is likely to be unavailable soon and is a poor choice of example.

Patrick Lennon

Also I'm generally in complete agreement with everything Rebecca wrote in her most recent post above.

Paul Mullin

Patrick, the gist of your argument seems to be "From my quite admittedly narrow and short-term point of view, there's no problem."

And hey, that's totally cool. when I was young I used to get drunk and climb the outsides of buildings. I get it. You're optimistic.

But saying, "Hey, I wasn't here for the Golden Age." Doesn't mean there wasn't a Golden Age. On the other hand, having been here for the Golden Age, I am completely convinced we can do better.

And isn't that the point? You don't want to call it a crisis. Fine. Don't call it a crisis. But do you want to argue that we can't do better? Because I will argue that point with you. We can do better. And we should. It takes work. It takes thinking and talking about it.

We have always been good at empty boosterism here in Seattle-- at praising ourselves for just how talented and fortunate we are. But are we willing to face hard truths too? Or are we just going to say, like so many artistic administrators have said here for so many years, "We live in the best of all possible worlds"?

Patrick Lennon

I think I have to bow out of this blog's discussion yet again, as this is the 2nd time you've responded to my points by insulting me personally.

The biggest take-away for me? You refuse (much as you did the last time) to even respond to the list of theatres that have been born or grown in the same period that other theatres have died.

Can we do better? Sure! So go out and do better. Lead by example. Very few of us who have commented on this post run a company. So this is all mostly just empty talk. Even Rebecca's very insightful ideas above are falling on deaf ears if the people reading this aren't the people running our theatre companies.

Lamenting the fact that companies have died isn't going to change anything. Even talking about why they died isn't going to change anything.

Going out and changing things is going to change things.

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