Riddle me this

I am a bear of very little stuffing, so forgive me for not understanding, and forgive me for taking the long way around in explaining my lack of understanding.

I am a second tier blogger, and second tier theatre practitioner in a second tier American city. I have no credentials to wave around and the wisdom to know it. I do my best to be a non-offensive milquetoast in this space, because I may need one or all of you in the future so I try not to burn any bridges. I don’t take any hard stands on anything, I’m more interested in the conversation than in riding the storm.

But I need to understand.

Most of you DO take hard stands on things. You use your blogs as daily or pseudo-daily editorial soap boxes on theatre or politics, and you rant away. And honestly it’s what makes you enjoyable reads. You challenge my way of thinking and allow me to examine how I feel on issues. Some of you have bylines for publications that require something more than being able to pass a captcha to write for and use your blogs to supplement that. Good on ya. 

So with all these accomplished writers and theatre practitioners writing rants and screeds and diatribes why is it that only Scott Walters attracts scrums of disgruntled bloggers?

DevilVet. I am the non-Nylachi voice you were asking for. (Austin by way of San Francisco and New Hampshire)

Once you get around the fact that Scott posts all of his hypotheses as declarative statements rather than questions I don’t even understand what’s so offensive. Is he single minded in his pursuit of a true regional theatre stripped of the corporate capital feeder model we work under now? Of course he is. And Qui likes super heroes and Ian like Orson Welles.

Scott isn’t picking on New York. It’s never been about picking on New York. It’s about REMOVING NEW YORK FROM THE EQUATION TO SEE WHAT ELSE WE HAVE. New York is what it is. It is the de facto capital of theatre until people start practicing their religion where they’re at. There are ten of thousands of practitioners there, paid and unpaid, and they are taking admirable care of the beast.

So why are you all so goddamn defensive when the rest of the country asks what else we have going on? You want Scott to change his tone? Really? You are so incapable of being an audience who accepts frustration from a writer that you insist he alter his words to suit your sensibilities? He reads something that reads to him as xenophobic, he says so. He reads what is purported to be a national magazine with a narrower focus than he’d like, he says so.

He’s more zealous than I’d like, but he’s not my representative. I didn’t vote for him, nor is he on my payroll. So when he gets caught with some shoddy methodology on counting articles, I laugh. It’s not a scandal. It’s not an election. A partisan got carried away.

Why can’t New York laugh and join him?

For my money right now, AS IT AFFECTS ME, the two most important things that I know about that are happening in American Theatre are Available Light’s attempt at full on Pay-As-You-Can in a non-NY environment (do they have the critical mass to do it? If they do, does Austin?) and the Des Moines Social Club. Is there a theatre that can exist without the government teat (and the requisite say in what I produce) or private sponsorship?

That’s what Scott’s asking. And I don’t see why so many of you expect him to be careful about New York’s toes in the process.

It may not be about you, or for you, and if you are in New York making it happen for yourself it is likely very much not about you. But neither is it to SPITE you.

Some times things are about us. And that’s okay.

image

  • Ian Mackenzie

    Wow! Nicely said.

  • Devilvet

    thanks for the 2 cents…yup!

  • Laura Sue

    I read it. I liked it. Hmm. Just what IS the theater juggernaut afraid of? Very good question.

  • Mac

    I used to take issue with Scott when he was actually slandering New York artists, but I feel like he’s laid off that for months, and I haven’t really had a problem with him since. He can be a choad, sure, but he works really hard, and he’s no more imprisoned by his prejudices than I am (which is to say, plenty imprisoned).

    “Theater juggernaut” is hilarious, especially when imputed to a bunch of piteously struggling NY artists. I know that as a NY theater blogger, I’m supposed to somehow belong to some group of cruel cool kids from an ’80s movie that all the scrappy soulful nerds from around the country are rebelling against, but I sure don’t *feel* like a handsome blonde bully in a convertible most of the time, or ever.

    Actually, “theater juggernaut” is hilarious in any context I can think of.

  • Travis Bedard

    @Mac

    But if you GET a convertible can we ride in it?

    And are you saying I’m not scrappy and soulful? (I assume nerd still holds) 😉

  • Freeman

    I completely agree with Mac.

    I’d also add that what bothers me about the tone is exactly what’s coming out here… a combative attitude towards New York. As if guys like me, or people like Sarah Hart, are purposefully disenfranchising smaller markets.

    The fact is…L.A., Chicago, New York…are centers of media, commerce, and three of the largest cities in the United States. As far as I understand, American Theatre’s offices are based in New York. It’s not conspiracy that makes them, therefore, exceptionally represented in the coverage.

    We are all on the same side, guys. This alarmist, us vs. them rhetoric is what I reject. It creates unnecessary distrust and reduces the level of discussion. Take Scott’s comments about David Cote as a key example.

    So if you believe that discussion can be too New York Centric… just talk about your region. Louder. More often. I’ll listen. I want to know. But telling me (as in a New York artist) to keep quiet or stay out of it or that I’m somehow oppressive… what does it achieve? How does it, actually, change the subject?

  • Devilvet

    Me, personally…I ashamedly enjoy the drama…It seems to get us talking to each other more even if we tend to agree less and less.

    Whereas after a closer second read, I can understand why Cote feels irritation…I think that sometimes over the past weeks, months, we (myself included) are responding to the Scott Walters that mac refers to

    “I used to take issue with Scott when he was actually slandering New York artists”

    rather than responding to the Scott Walters who is actually in the room blogging with us at this very moment…

    There seems sometimes to me to be the need to defeat Scott by alot of the gang. that his silence or accquience would somehow validate those of us in NYLACHI. And rather than further inquiry into what he is actually saying, there can be a tendency to focus on how contentious he once was or alot of justification about intent vs results when it comes to the media side.

    It is very telling to me, that the people who seem from their response to be the least in disagreement with Scott was AT themselves…

    “Your concerns about expansive coverage for theatres across the country, regardless of urban proximity, are valid and something we struggle with in every issue.

    It seems to me, that whatever Scott was saying to AT was heard…and now a bunch of us are trying to flash a yellow card at Scott even when his opponent conceeds his point has some substance.

    That being said, I also agree with Mac in that the NYLACHI folks on the blogs (most of them) have just as hard a time with, the struggle, as other artists in other areas.