Once upon a time in a blog post not so terribly far away I mentioned that you should be careful not to post the same platitudes on Twitter every one is posting every day because I was seeing the same quotes DAY after DAY after DAY and the only thing worse than Successories posters are Successories posters on every single wall of every single office.

The primary offender on a theatre feed is of course the Samuel Becket quote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

I love it, you love it, we all own t-shirts and mugs with it emblazoned in Beckett Estate approved fonts…

But every day was a bit much.

The #Newplay convening at Arena Stage was like a funhouse with creator after creator reflecting back about the need for risk and failure. It was it’s own sort of convening game… how many different ways can you say “create a safe place for risk taking”. The answer is: a lot. Most of them involved some variation of the phrase “room to fail”.

I loved it. It was good. It IS good. It’s an attitude and a reality that we need in theatre making.

Spider Man: Turn off the Dark is apparently apocalyptically bad. Last night was the longest listed press opening so everyone went all in and it got the critical lambasting we all knew was coming. I love Ben Brantley raging out as much as the next guy. I love snark and I love the sword of justice falling.

But this is after two years of snark and six months of active schadenfreude on the part of the Twitter community that I am surrounded by. This isn’t even news this was a moment of gleeful grave dancing. Noting that the sinner in this case is not a war criminal I’ll ask: when is enough?

So here’s what I want. In return for your continued bile and your smug derision. I want you to either expunge to phrase “room to fail” and “we need to find ways to take risks” from your vocabulary or you need to append to the end of each use, “in support of projects or people I like at price points I don’t find objectionable even though it’s not my money and never had any way of becoming my money.”

It won’t fit in a twitter post so you may simply add “I’m a hypocrite, ibid.”

I don’t want to hear about waste.
I don’t want to hear about how you don’t like her style.
I don’t want to hear how you think Broadway should crumble into the sea.
Because see, here’s the cold truth:

There is almost no shot I like the theatre you’re producing.

Like, a 15% shot. But by all means go and make it!
A theatre-going culture is a better culture for me even if you aren’t making the art I want to see.
I financially support what I can, I see as much as I can, I advocate for just about everydamnthing on a stage.

You cannot (unhypocritically) root for space to fail for you and your friends and not root for room to fail for Julie Taymor, or as Kris Vire portmanteau’d last night U2Mor.

They, by every non-Glenn Beck account, have failed. They have failed on every card and on a scale I actually literally never dreamed of. [They failed with half the Yankees payroll. Only the Cardinals and Mets do things like that] I would love to have that money. I want the chance to fail that big. Chances are you would too.

But instead of singing me song after song about how much the Spiderman teams sucks: dream the dream. What would YOU build given that kind of opportunity?

  • right on. theater is frickin’ hard, especially when you’re carving something the likes of which has NOT been carved before. Who ACTUALLY wins when the likes of Spidey and Women on the Verge go down? Wee bitty theater makers like us? Not really … like you say, we’re pretty far away from all that money and all that stuff. Audiences? Certainly not. Critics, maybe, but they’re all getting a bit monotonous at this point. The only victory to be had is by our collective knowledge of the art. We can peer through the Spidey-sized hole and see the possibility for a new comic book musical that CAN work. The whole point of Risk Fail Risk Again is the discovery of the new. I’m damn proud that Julie Taymor risked as big as she did — through her failure (and it is worth noting that the failure of Spidey will be decided by history, not by the current critics), we all know the medium a little better, and can make stronger future choices accordingly.

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