Socialism, Party of One?

So the Chicago Small Theatre Summit happened.

My thoughts of course turned to my own desire to have a small theatre alliance in Austin. A group of indie theatremakers in town  to help avoid burnout due to isolation, to get off the hamster wheel of scene reinvention, to share resources and ideas, and to spark competitive innovation.

And I know it won’t happen.

There will be friendships and acquaintance-hood and we’ll go to each other’s shows. But no meaningful regular exchange of ideas will happen. Why not?

  1. We’re busy – Ask 10 groups when the best time to meet is – get 12 different answers.
  2. Different needs on different parts of the food chain.
    A 1 year old group has very different needs than the five year old itinerant group than the ten year-old landed group.
  3. People want the benefits not the costs.
    Everyone wants extra hands at load-in or a volunteer at the box office. But very few want to give up some of their limited free time (see #1) to BE that extra set of hands.

Or more succinctly put… the same problems as socialism anywhere.

We can be as socialist as we want in the corner, but as soon as you try to break that out to more folks you discover why the only socialist regimes on earth have been totalitarian.

  • Why it's worth their time is a tough one. What do they get out of it for their time? If you can convince someone of that, you can get them in a room. I think that's the first step.

    Letting people who aren't willing to help out of the group in another tough one.

    I think Guy Kawasaki's rules for innovation can be very helpful for things like this.

  • As a socialist, I'm not really certain what you're describing really fits.

  • Where am I off? That's not a snark response, I honestly would like to know… half the battle and all.

  • Well, I agree with your assessment of why this model of practicing theater wouldn't work, largely because the artists lack the time or resources to make it happen. I was referring to your last statement that “the only socialist regimes on earth have been totalitarian.”

    Um… what about western Europe, which seems to be doing just fine. Socialist Democracies are rad!

  • tthomas48

    There are many non-totalitarian socialist regimes. Most of Europe comes to mind. It would definitely be much easier if we were truly socialist and put money into a pot from which peons could be hired, thus supplying a steady stream of peons. Until we can figure out how to get that large pot of capitol, though, I think we're stuck with the current system.

    What we have is the problem with any business startup. We're all trying to build our own products and we're heads down.

    That said, I think the idea of a New Works Austin label that we've been discussing in the Melon Grant talks is great. There's a desire to produce quantity over quality due to the high cost of re-marketing your name with each show. We've discussed having some sort of New Works marketing label that would make it easy for audiences to find New Work without having to know every little theater company in town.

  • Sorry for the long delayed response. Forgive my speaking off the cuff… my understanding of European socialism was that it was implemented piecemeal, not wholesale. That's what I get for slapping my world politics together willy-nilly…

    I think the resource sharing is underway, just under publicized. I think that you're dead on with the idea that we're all moving forward on our projects with our heads down (and that we're all behaving like startups) I just really want to head off the burn out.

    I think the New Work badging is a FANTASTIC idea.

  • Sorry for the long delayed response. Forgive my speaking off the cuff… my understanding of European socialism was that it was implemented piecemeal, not wholesale. That's what I get for slapping my world politics together willy-nilly…

    I think the resource sharing is underway, just under publicized. I think that you're dead on with the idea that we're all moving forward on our projects with our heads down (and that we're all behaving like startups) I just really want to head off the burn out.

    I think the New Work badging is a FANTASTIC idea.