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I have met the Enemy

Tony Adams asks,I answer:

Tony asks in a very well thought out post a simple question which I will sum up as, Why Don’t We Make Them Us? Why don’t artists step up and sit in the big boy seats?

Well the first and easiest answer is that they don’t want to. The want to do Their Thing. They want to be an actor, or designer,, or playwright.

Secondly? The Institutions don’t want them. Not in America. Not in 2008. This is an era of specialization, and there is no reason to hire an actor with some back office chops rather than an MBA. Not a single non-altruistic reason. Why would you hire someone that you know for a fact is only half paying attention to the job you need them to do? The mechanics of it alone are iffy. And are you going to have them work when the office is closed? The big boys rehearse during the day. But I’m piling on…

For my money the biggest reason specifically actors aren’t stepping up (outside of the fringe) to positions of leadership on the organizational side is that we’ve trained them to do as they’re told.

In American theater most people come to the business via education. They discover it in high school or college and are trained in either pre-professional or conservatory programs. That training is largely carried out by lapsed or current professionals who teach their student to operate in the system and the hierarchy they know.

That system is of course the current system, and that hierarchy is the primacy of the text, then the director, with the actor doing as they are told.

And they are listening.

Did your school teach you how to be a producer?
Poster design?
Advertising theory?
Social networking?
Grant writing?
Press release writing?
Interview technique?

Are actors forced to take play writing and design classes at you alma mater?

We are getting the actors we ordered. They do What They Do.

Of course lots of them are starting companies of their own. And they’re failing at the same rate because they have to learn by trial and error.

Artists, actors at least, aren’t stepping up because they don’t want to and because they don’t have the skills institutions  need to run the business efficiently.

Your Turn

How am I wrong? Which assumption is one step too far?

I don’t want this to be proclamation, I want it to be discussion.

Long Form Answer to A Question about Questions

Praxis asks in reference to their interview series:

…we can’t shake a nagging feeling that we’re missing something. What questions haven’t we asked about theatre? What are we missing? What topics aren’t coming up?.

My suggestion?

What have you done to save theatre today?

Bruce Miller of the Barksdale Theatre has his answer:

If there’s anyone out there who wants to bring the children in their life to Guys and Dolls, or for that matter any other Barksdale and/or Theatre IV production, and isn’t doing so because they can’t afford it, please email me at TheatreIVandBarksdale@gmail.com, let me know what you’d like to see and what would be your ideal “pay what you can” price. I’ll find a way to make tickets available to you at prices you can afford.

We want to do Our Thing and be done. We want to be specialists in a shrinking anachronistic craft. We don’t get the choice to not be evangelists. We can huffnpuff about how the Value of Theatre is Self Evident. But it isn’t to Myra. It isn’t to most people you run into on a given day.

I’m not properly doing my part to advance to advance something I love very much.
I will. Somehow.