Fences and Walls

I wrote a glorious, witty, self-serving piece about the need for big tent tolerance in both religion and theatre.

Oh my god it was bad. As Treplev says in the the Nina Variations (by Steven Dietz – buy now), “Nothing makes an audience run from the room faster then the phrase, ‘I had a dream…’, except perhaps for this phrase, ‘When I was a young boy…’”

You need my personal history like you need a panel of rabies shots.

The summary line of that post was: Some people like musicals, light comedy, Sarah Kane, Shakespeare, and improv. Stop complaining that X Style/Production is Killing theatre.

It’s not.
You just think it’s stupid.
They mean different things.

Let’s push things forward

That all rattling in my head: religion, and theatre, and the resilience of both remind me of when I was a young boy…

All right I wasn’t, I was like 25 but whatever.

I had one of those Discussions. The kind of Discussion that for me only happens on the Beach or at Diners (or in this case both) about Humankind’s desperate need to define and label and create boundaries for themselves. I belong to this fraction of this fraction of this fraction of the group of people who live in this city/state/country and this is what that Means. We create as small a niche for ourselves in this limitless universe as we can to keep ourselves sane.

Then from the beginning of time we created stories to explain why we were in those niches. Oh we love stories.

And religion gave birth to theatre, and campfires gave way to the public square (of whatever size) to the airwaves but the stories and our need for them never change.

It occurs to me that the reliance of religion on narrative is exactly why there is no significant Right Wing Theatre. Religion fills the narrative needs of bulk of American Conservatives. In many instances with higher budgets and better production values than Off-Wherever Indie theatre.

And for those who aren’t looking for personal but rather group narrative we have the political and athletics realms.


Theatre isn’t going to ever die.
SYSTEMS die. Not forms.
The narratives we weave, and the reflections of ourselves that we crave will never go disappear.

We need to stop reacting out of anger and fear at every turn.
We’re storytellers. On the stage, at the pub, by the campfire, in our living rooms, we will continue to be storytellers.

I’m not saying there aren’t challenges. But the challenges aren’t TO THE VERY FABRIC OF THEATRE ITSELF. The challenges are (in my case) producing the theatre I want to in the style I want to without risking my own money. In many cases it’s a challenge to Have a Career in Theatre. Or to Make Money at This.

Those are real challenges and deserve talking about. But choose your words. How you define your challenges becomes the walls of your world. Make it personal.
Which is exactly what your success will be when you achieve it.

What is your Challenge?

On the walls of the day
In the shade of the sun
We wrote down
Another vision of us
We are the challengers of
The unknown

Challengers – The New Pornographers

  • It's true. Theater, as a cultural practice, will evolve but it won't disappear. Evolution is only scary — and akin to death — to people who benefit from the status quo. Theatre will be here long after we are all gone.

    One question: if you are not prepared to risk your money to make your art, whose money should be risked?

  • I am willing and do risk my own money.

    I would like to not balance artistic choices and life choice. I.E choosing between paying student loans on time and paying the actors. I don't have that CHOICE but I would like it.

  • That's a helpful clarification. Thanks!

    Personally, half the fun for me is figuring out how to strike a balance between artistic choices and life choices.

    Good art comes from good choices. So, do good lives. Good lives of art will similarly involve a lot of tough and ultimately rewarding choices. Of course, it doesn't make it any less frustrating in the short-term. 🙂

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