Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Do We Do Theatre?

Thanks once again to Thomas Cott and Cott Mail for the article.

We all agree that theatre is in crisis and has been for years. Today the major theatres and many of the smaller ones in Los Angeles seemed to be locked in the consumerist model; not only in their choice of material but how they produce and how they cast. "The play's the thing" no longer holds; butts in seats is the thing. I believe theatre that does not serve the play does not serve the community. Quick fixes, like getting movie stars to perform, don't sell future tickets. More importantly, quick fixes do not address what's actually wrong, why we are in crisis. I believe any serious consideration must begin at why we do theatre; what purpose does it serve? I suspect we must rethink the model of regional theatre as the heart of American Theatre. Some of the problems theatre faces exist because these institutions have become behemoths. The purpose of the theatre is forgotten; plays are selected to get butts in seats; paradoxically fewer people come. These theatrical institutions are the equivalent of the giant banks; they cannot fail or be allowed to fail. Consequently, for them, there is no artistic accountability. These behemoths need more and more funding and every dollar they receive diminishes the dollars available to other arts organizations. I've been on the boards of small theatres; I've run small theatres and I talk to other artistic directors. At our theatre and other small theatres in Los Angeles, we're quite sure if we can survive long enough, support will come. The better LA theatres do demonstrate artistic courage. We fall on our face and stand up bloodied ready to go again. We succeed more often than we fail. We do not fear failure but recognize it as fundamental to growth. More importantly, unlike the big organizations, our failures mean something. I think what Los Angeles needs is courage from community leaders. We need funders willing to take risks; funders who see that if they truly want their money to affect art in the community, here is where they need to invest.

Posted by John Perrin Flynn of Rogue Machine Theatre on LA Stage Blog, February 27, 2010

Happy Birthday:
Gates McFadden (b. 1949)
Daniel Craig (b. 1968)

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