Entries Tagged as 'Meta'

The most important part of the picture is the frame.

Now granted I heard that from a frame salesperson, but it sounds good right? She was responding to my incredulity at what was easily a 6 inch thick frame around a 4 inch picture. Her longer explanation was that any given wall is a blank space and a frame gives the art context in the space.

I buy that.
<sidebar> I will also buy that I really hate gaudy faux gilt frames around pastoral landscapes </sidebar>

Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater) over at the Faster Times, in the wake of the American Theatre Critics Association wingding last week, drew up a broad post discussing the state of criticism in America. It was a really fun post that ranged far and wide, from the necessity of criticism, to the death of critics, to John Simon averring that bloggers are vermin (I am) and Stephen Hendel admitting publically that he doesn’t read George Hunka or Lucas Krech.

I have no use for the argument about whether blogging is valid. Publishing is publishing. If you haven’t found something to read that makes your pink parts tingle that doesn’t invalidate the medium. Neither do I care to (further) discuss the “death” of anything like criticism, as that conversation is expressly about the ability of Professional Whatever to make as much money as they feel like they should be making, not about the thing itself.

What I DO have use for is what I want criticism to do.

Not reviewing. Lord we have a lot of reviewers. We have citizen reviewers and professional reviewers and pro-am reviewers and the irascible Don Hall reviewer and friends and family and cast and crew and the butcher, the baker, and candlestick maker.

Criticism.

In a time of centralized (truly Mass) media the upper echelons of each field could be recognized and the average person would know at the very least who the Biggest and Brightest in each small niche were. It wasn’t a broad knowledge or anything like even a basic working knowledge of a niche, but you could play word association games – Theatre? Arthur Miller! Poetry? Robert Frost!

In a time of fractured media and self selection of sources it’s more difficult to assume any knowledge whatsoever of a niche.

There’s no context whatsoever for what we’re doing. We talk about microlabels inside our niche “indie” theatre versus “pro-am” or whatever… do a man-on-the-street and ask who the biggest star on Broadway is. Who has the number 1 album on Billboard?

People like knowing what they’re talking about. People like knowing that what they’re seeing is the best, the first, the something-th. They have no way of knowing unless someone knowledgeable steps in provides that knowledge for them. If they walk into the small and oddly shaped Hyde Park Theatre and see Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation this week they don’t know (without someone telling them) that they’re seeing a Obie-winning play directed by an in-town Hall of Famer with a cast that has a few closets full of awards and nominations. Despite the irregularities of the space, the informality of the evening and the affordability of the ticket,  you should have high expectations for both the show and the performers. This isn’t a Waiting for Guffman extravaganza written by a bored 5th grader.

I want for the critics of the now, print or on-line, paid adequately or not, to be those context providers. Every town has a narrative. Every town likely has multiple narratives on multiple levels, but let’s stick for the moment stick to the singular. If our critics in each town look to that narrative to inform the coverage and the features we continually build hooks into creating broader interest in what we do. Who is the bad boy of Minneapolis theatre? Who is the rising star of Seattle?

It seems a little trite. But I believe firmly in selling our people and if we only ever talk about plays as product? Wow are we missing the boat. I know allotted column inches are shrinking, I know budgets are shrinking, I know that many critics are working multiple jobs and don’t have time for features.

So my call to action is this:
Critics give your audience context for each show you talk about. A an extra online paragraph. Feature the author, or a performer, or the venue – how does this production fit into the town? Or the season? Robert Faires did this really well with his “The Classics Comeback” piece in the Chronicle.

YOU. You have a blog. Tell us about folks you love in your town. Stop whining about how no one is doing something and be the person who does it. Be an advocate! Out Adam Szymkowicz Adam Syzmkowicz! It isn’t our job to research the best and brightest in your town, it’s your job to tell us.

Frame the picture for us, so that when we come to see your art we have context.

Quick thoughts on Outrageous Fortune

I’m not through Part One yet, but I really need to jot thoughts as I go or I’m just going to lose it all.

  1. AD’s honestly believe that there are no good plays anymore. Because of course Really Good Play means Tartuffe.It is really not clear to ADs at major shops who have been running Shakespeare, Moliere, Shakespeare, Chekov, O’Neill for a decade that reading a new unproduced play isn’t going to have the same effect on them, not because it isn’t good, but because:

    A.) You’ve only been working with Hall of Fame scripts distilled by 500 years of production winnowing the field

    B.) You’re older, more experienced, more broadly read and you’re not going to be as easily impressed as you were when you were 22.

    Baseball metaphor: hitters will always tell you that Old Ace Pitcher was the fastest ever, much faster than Young Flamethrower. Because of course he was 19 and seeing Big League fastballs for the first time out of the hand of Old Ace Pitcher and seeing Young Flamethrower’s work after 20 years of seeing Big League fastballs.

    To paraphrase Bill James: The real level of the Really Good Play is not Hamlet or a Doll’s House and never has been.

  2. The book’s opening paragraph’s outline the Utopia found by Chekhov, Brecht, O’Neil, Churchill, August Wilson, Odets and Shakespeare, and Moliere – all writers for the ages who were lovingly tended by theatre’s eager to receive their work…
    Except of course that they were writing members of a group, not Monks on a retreat who returned from the mountain tops wreathed in glory to deliver the Next Work.No one is arguing that groups that develop a work begun by a singular voice can’t work… they’re arguing that they’re broke. Well, not arguing – stating.  What they are also stating is that major nonprofits aren’t doing that. I think that’s a pretty unassailable position.
  3. Everyone wants a comfortable job at a comfortable salary at a nurturing artistic home. And a unicorn. Too bad.That aside, the burrowing of our writers from high school to undergrad to grad to laboratory to internship to retreat to incubator is naturally going to lead to disconnected abstract plays. They are disconnected from reality, living inside a bubble of craft, only talking to other theatremakers and primarily only other writers. To be crass? Inbreeding leads to retardation.(Preemptive rebuttal: the fact the YOU Intrepid Wordsmith haven’t Done That doesn’t invalidate my premise… you are not the entire world snowflake)

    Live life in this world and you’ll be able to write about it.
    My favorite current example of the real world leading to good craft is smaller by Malachy Walsh. His experiences inform the subject and round the characters but never supersede his craft in the creation.

More as I wade through the heartache.

Bottled Lightning(tm)

It seems in the aftermath of Diversity Weekend and the subsequent release of Outrageous Fortune that the fog of war has lifted and the folks are seeing the enormity of the problems in front of us.

Of course the problems that face theatre are insurmountable.

T’was ever thus.

We are trying to perform communal alchemic creation in a hastily pasted on corporate structure. We have no funding mechanism that doesn’t involve the kindness of strangers and a talent base that pays lipservice to the good of the artform while silently chafing that they’re not paid on the level of their similarly educated (less romantic) peers. We have no economies of scale, no national infrastructure, no global networking, no buzzwords of any sort to alleviate the problems.

Reflecting on it doesn’t change it. With no disrespect meant, maybe that’s what happens when you’re inside a system and see the cliffs?

There is no system in the wild. Out here in the provinces we just make theatre. It may not be diverse enough, it may not feature enough women, but it’s pretty high quality and getting better all the time… and efficiently produced as hell.

Pride in indie theatre aside, I have long felt that the entrepreneurial model is a bad idea for theatre. We are forced to it because that’s the language our funders speak so we organize that way.

Theatres should be dealt with as record labels and producing groups like bands. Bands meant to be transitory until you find the true connection and labels to be counted on for a style.

The idea that theatre companies are just like any mini-mart (small businesses with small but measurable ecomnomic effects) is patently ridiculous. Theatremaking is as alchemic as any act of creation. It’s chemistry in four dimensions. Every chemical reaction has a limited effect. One of the components will be consumed by the process and the process will end. Of course we expect the theatremaking to continue just the same, because there are budgets and structures and mouths to feed.

And then we question why exactly theaters fall apart, or slide off mission, or stop taking risks, or any number of things that we expect other theatres to manage to do what we can’t ourselves.

Of course these problems are insurmountable, they are built into the system… But we get up and we keep trying because we need to make theatre. Not for Theatre’s sake, for ours. Theatre was here when we showed up and will be here long after we’re gone. Theatre will die the day after Religion. Stop trying to save Theatre and just make the theatre you think needs making.

Happy Anniversary to Us

Two years ago on another windy and cold First Night in Austin Cambiare Productions was born under the 1st Street Bridge.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel like a million years ago.

I’d be lying if I hadn’t claimed more than once that this company was three years old. I wasn’t lying it’s just… that was a REALLY long time ago.

Since that time we produced one final show with Gobotrick Theatre Company, Will produced and I performed in (20% of) a five play cycle of Manuel Zarate’s work, I got married, we presented a reading of Seven Jewish Children, and we wrote and produced Orestes. And then took the rest of 2009 off.

We are better at what we do now.
We have a clearer picture of what it is exactly we do now.

I still have no long term plan.
Well… I have no long term plan for Cambiare Productions.

The long term plan is to finally produce the One True Show that really is everything we want in a production and for Will to get spirited off to Louisville or the Arena and go be brilliant where larger amounts of people can see.

The plan is to feature local artists in roles that showcase them to the best of their ability and let them be noticed.

The plan is to keep growing our process to make it as easy on the cast and crew as it can possibly be, providing them with the most opportunity to shine.

We can do that. We can do that with the resources we have (and a little City help) and the talent this community continues to provide. We can be, for a season, another cog in what is becoming a hotbed of new work development.

I should have a five year plan. I know.
Instead I have two consecutive six month plans.
We’ll go from there.

Words Matter (The Power of Naming)

Kate Foy of Groundling (and Toowoomba! I just like saying Toowoomba!) has been asking nicely all over the internet for about a year what exactly people mean when they call themselves an “indie” theatre company. I’ve talked with her in roughly 492 different venues about it, but discovered that I never had answered it here where I might be held accountable for it.

I did talk about labeling in a post a year ago but didn’t really get into why I choose that label that I do.

I like specificity. I’m not always good at it but I like it. To that end I would prefer that words retain their meaning. Unfortunately I don’t get a vote. Language remains transient and I have to move with  it.

Further, art resists labeling at the best of times.

The two together makes specificity difficult in this case.

Cambiare Productions is technically an itinerant semi-professional community theatre operated by amateurs.

I however can’t use those words because they are each freighted with cultural meaning apart from their definitions.

The amateur/professional divide is intended to be solely about the money, but “amateur” comes with baggage about the expectations of low quality as does “community theatre” as skewered by Waiting for Guffman.

Semi-professional and “Pro-Am” are still really vague. Which part of the machine is the “semi” part? The quality or the money? If I have to explain the label to you it’s not of much use as a label. It’s just a conversation starter.

So I choose “indie” or “independent” theatre, not because it’s technically correct (independent of what?), but because it accurately conveys what we are to people who are interested. People know what an indie musician is or an indie film. They have no preconceived notion of lower quality, simply less money, meaning it probably has a rawness to it. It also implies up and coming, which I hold to be the case.

Garage Theatre would also work if it weren’t a place in my house where I don’t let people go as the corpse of Orestes is still strewn about it.

Do you have a better one word label for “I don’t have your resources yet, but I know what I’m doing and I’m on my way”?

10 Things I Wish I’d Been told in College (and 1 I was)

Everyone loves lists.

Well. I love lists, and while there’s been a lot of talk over my three years actively blogging about theatre about the failings of the Theatre Education Industrial Complex, we’ve not really attempted to create a curriculum we approve of. Largely because, well, creating a new theatre education paradigm is hard. And I’m not going to do that here, because I’m not sure how to even begin.

Instead? Herein lies a list of things I wish someone had told me over a beer the night of graduation. “Well… you made it, and now you’re ‘In the Club’ so here’s all the things you weren’t taught.” This does include stuff we’ve talked about here in the past. But not all in one place.

I also want to include the one thing I WAS told outside the framework of the program that really helped.

In no particular order:

  1. Read Everything.
    Consume media.
    Consume the world around you.

    An “artist” with nothing to say is “retired”. You need life experience, you need ideas and emotion flowing through you when you’re actively creating, but even more so when you’re not. There’s a reason that a musicians first album – culled from years of struggle and real life intruding on creation – is generally the most alive.
  2. You’re not done learning.
    And the know-it-all attitude you’re sporting will not endear you to the in-the-trenches veterans you’re now talking with. Lose it. And keep the war stories in their place. They’ve all done crazy things on a show before too, save it for beer later.
  3. This isn’t Bohemia
    You are not a Romantic Poet. You will not die of consumption in a garret, starving for your art, unless you’re stupid enough to not (y’know) go get a job and pay rent. Those Romantic ideals NEVER work out for the hero. Dead isn’t a career move unless you’ve already got a few films in the can.
  4. You’re an entrepreneur now.
    Actor, singer, dancer, tech, producer, doesn’t matter. You’re in business for yourself as soon as that tassel flips. Figure out what that means for you. What’s you plan? You have a plan right?
  5. Have a plan.
    You’re not going to show up in Major Metropolitan Area and get discovered while working at Florsheims. No. You’re not. So how are you going to make that happen? What are you going to do when it doesn’t? Is that really what you want?
  6. Make a friend. Make Five. Make TWENTY.
    No matter what mama said, you are NOT god’s special snowflake. There are 20 or more of you in every major metropolitan area. I suggest while waiting for a break, you MAKE a break. You’re not going to go from graduation to Great White Way. So be Bill Rauch. Find people you love and a thing you love making and do it. People will notice.
  7. And it can be where you are
    If you need to get out, get out.
    But there is an audience for what you do right where you are. If you’re most happy living on the New Hampshire Seacoast? DO IT. And find people who are making the theatre you like and bring them baked goods until they let you play. 
    There’s no such thing as “Never Made It Out”. There is only choosing what makes you happy. Portsmouth is as deserving of great art as Brooklyn.
  8. About the money…
    About that Plan…
    There’s no money here. Or there. Or over there.
    The very best can make a living if they hustle hard.
    So learn grant writing. Learn business modeling, and budgeting. It’s going to be tight, but you don’t have to go broke making art. Or entertainment. Or whatever it is you make.
  9. Leverage what you know, and keep increasing what you know.
    If you want to do more than a couple of shows you need to be adaptable and unafraid of the new. You can’t eschew the computer for the ol’ quill and parchment in every instance. You can’t avoid networking because ‘you hate that shit’. Here, we’ll call it “hanging out with different people and talking to them like you actually care”. Now go DO IT.
  10. There’s no time limit.
    Unless you want to be a Broadway ingénue. You haven’t failed if you haven’t done “X” by 25 or 30. You “fail” if you stop. You rarely stop something you are still in love with. If you stopped because you don’t want to do it anymore? You didn’t fail – you changed. You don’t owe theatre anything.

The one Real thing I was told off the record was by Nancy Saklad. During a rehearsal in a very large ice storm with the power out butchering a monologue from Terranova over and over again:

“You can do this you know. Professionally.
If you want it, you can do this.”

After 5 years of college and 3 years in high school she was the first person who ever said such a thing to me.
And then she stuck the landing:

“But you have to work at it.”

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.

Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa

My fantasy team has forgotten how to hit.
As they never could pitch, this is a tough week for me, and I’m going to take my faux-sport frustrations out on this Windows Live Writer box. Theatre: baseball style.


Minor League.

Less than. Incomplete. On your way up, or down, or out.

It has a uniquely negative connotation that sort of sums up how the City-States treat the provinces in just about every field now.

Branch Rickey broke it all. Oh sure, blah blah blah Jackie Robinson, colour line, ripple effect on American race relations… Barack Obama. Mr. Rickey was, as Billy Beane would do generations later, simply leveraging undervalued markets, which is what he had been doing all his career.

In the Good Old Days minor league meant smaller, not lesser. Playing in the Pacific Coast League or the American Association didn’t mean you couldn’t play for the Yankees, you just didn’t. Babe Ruth didn’t get ‘called up’ from the Baltimore Orioles to ‘begin’ his career with the Boston Red Sox, the Orioles needed the money and sold him. The same thing with Joe Dimaggio and the Seals. There was good money and considerable local fame for a fella playing in a smaller professional league in the pre-24-hour news era.

The American and National leagues signed players… and so did the other leagues. The top two leagues had more money which tilted the talent pool in their direction, but it was a trickle not tidal.

Then Branch Rickey, general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, signed… well he signed everyone. If he heard of a guy somewhere who could throw pretty hard, or a farmers kid who was knocking ‘titantic clouts’ (oh purple prose I miss you) he tossed them a contract, a trinket, and a ticket. He negotiated affiliate deals with teams all over the South and stashed all of his players to develop them while already under contract, saving himself thousands in rapidly escalation purchase costs.

And the “farm system” was born, and the identities of those minor league teams evaporated. See, you no longer were a proud Arkansas Traveler, you were a future Cardinal. In a thousand $25 strokes Branch Rickey killed off possible competitor leagues and locked up thousands of ‘prospects’, ushering in monopolistic industrialized baseball.

Lo, and we ended up right in the middle of Scott Walters’ wheelhouse (never groove him anything middle-in).

The theatre I make is backed by less money. The talent I work with isn’t drawn from a national pool. I’m never going to be on the cover of American Theatre. But the theatre I make isn’t less than.

The baseball talent filter is well-financed, broad-reaching and highly refined (no matter how often Albert Pujolses or Mike Piazza’s slip through the cracks).  Theatre’s talent filter is passive and arrogant. “I have the money, they’ll come to me,  I’ll take the cream and stash the rest at Starbucks until I need them”.

There’s a Waltersian rant about the evils of the industrialization of art, but this isn’t the time or place. Let’s distill it down to the thesis:

Industrialization is ALWAYS a wasteful process.
In theatre our raw materials are people.
Those people waiting tables in New York, providing casting directors one more alternative look, with enough talent to be ‘starting’ elsewhere?
That’s wasted raw material.
That’s hurting theatre.

Theatre isn’t baseball. (Theatre got it’s runtimes under 4 hours except for Forced Entertainment) Theatre needs all hands on deck. But there is no interest by the people in the filed to develop others. The machine in New York needs the best player available, they are pushing a product, and they need platinum to make it.

Fine.

So mail order it.

Give me back all of the talent Austin has bled to 3-in-a-studios in Dumbo and I’ll let them share a three-bedroom in the Arboretum and give them REAL stage time. I will challenge them to think, and create, and to own stages. I will push them to develop confidence in the ability they have, and be honest with what they lack.

And we will knock the socks off of these poor Austin audiences.

Because those performers will be proud to be here, proud to be working these stages, and if you don’t think that makes a difference… and then when you need someone for a part, or you need an entire show, there will be an entire vibrant ecosystem to choose from. Actors who weren’t developed in poorly attended showcases, but rather in fully developed works with real live humans watching will be ready to come play for you.

Smaller towns, yes, but not ‘minor league’

As for me? I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. New York doesn’t need anything I have to offer, and vice versa.

And today? Today, a list of what some critics think was the best recent theatre work in Austin came out. I am proud to call many of those people my friends, and I am proud as hell of the work that went on in this city last year. And this year, and this week. All for almost no money.

All for the love of the game.

Control

I have my requisite ‘what I think is wrong with theatre’ post underway (and only two weeks after that virus came and went again) but I have a sub-issue in my head that needs some sussing out.

Before I get into that, a hearty welcome to Mr. Grady Burnett Walsh, and congratulations to the happy healthy Mom (and Malachy I suppose).


I have a running fascination with the way the Right Wing in this country control the language of any issue up for debate. It raises the question of why the Left has ceded that ground when so much of that population is obsessed with words, but that’s a question for a different day, and a different blog.

While in my freshman and sophomore years at the very underrated University of New Hampshire, I (along with my class and cast mates) was hammered by Professor Peggy Rae Johnson with one word.

Specificity.

Along with Acting 1 and 2 she also taught the Voice and Diction and Oral Interp classes so you can just imaging how that particular word sounding coming out of her mouth.

Specificity.

Some things just stick.

But it also strikes me that specificity is what is missing in our discussion of the theatre universe on a meta level. The discussion is mushy because blogging as a form is mushy, and because we share an artform, but no history together. But the majority of theatre bloggers try to stay ‘folksy’ and off-the-cuff with assumed familiarity.

The vocabulary of theatre, theatre theory, and theatre criticism is bathed in subjectivity and experiential meaning.

What does post-modern mean?
(when used in a promotional slug, not a text book)

Experimental?
Performance Piece?
Good?
Revolutionary?
Edgy?
Avant Garde?
Fringe?

Blogging is a short-form medium generally, but when we are trying to communicate larger issues (like say a blogger trying to piece together what they think is Wrong With Theatre) you can’t cut corners. You can’t shorthand the language, and you can’t assume shared experience.

Rather – You can, but not without pissing a lot of folks off.

We (read: I) need to remember to fully flesh out ideas and turns of phrase. Right down to what we think those ‘short cut’ words mean. Are there more specific words and phrases to communicate with?

This is true with all audiences real and virtual.

Each of you is God’s special little snowflake.

Well that right there was a fun little week in the theatrosphere.

You got your bile in my vitriol!

PREVIOUSLY ON THE THEATROSPEHERE:

Scott Walters got back on his horse named Provocation, or, as Nick over at Rat Sass aptly metaphored, strapped his guns back on. Six weeks of the New Civility Code imploded over a seemingly slight infraction, Iowa 08 pokes some (alleged) lazy fun at the Midwest. And Scott rode down that fun and trampled it to death.

Mac Rogers called bullshit on Scott calling bullshit, and then everyone piled on. It was pretty stunning all in all.

There’s nothing quite like a glove-slap charge of cultural hegemony to wake up the Persecuted.

The always civil, mild-mannered Joshua James posits that because he (Mr. James) from Iowa, and lives in New York that Scott has no idea what he’s talking about, with a wonderful highlight  being the absolutely unbiased:  

I’m not going to link to the Blogger, simply because I don’t want to send anymore traffic his way. He’s not in New York, he’s neither a writer, director, actor or producer. He’s a theatre professor.

After a brief respite (happy anniversary Scott) Mr. Walters returned to a flaming inbox and tried to retrench his argument, and answer for his return to provocateur.

And then everyone said they didn’t understand and didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Except Scott. Who despite some unfortunate language choices, really does want a solution, not a war.

Everyone comes out looking pretty bad, except for Australia and Freeman.


So what are we talking about really?

Are we really so upset that Mr. Walters pointed out again that New York is biased towards New York?  Is that news? I was unaware that this was an open question. of course New York is biased towards New York. Isaac sums it up pretty well: the history of America is at least in part a history of outright antipathy between The City and The Country.

So why isn’t the response from The New York chapter simply the same as Scott’s response to Allison Croggon’s charge of Scott’s US-centrism?

“I write what I know”.

Theatre is local. Theatre is for a local audience. It isn’t New York’s responsibility to be writing for a southern audience, or writing about issues germane to Southern culture. North Carolina isn’t under the gun to write trenchant commentary about the gentrification of Park Slope.

We all use stereotypes as shorthand, why do we have to lie about it? All a writer can do (on either side) is be honest about the caricature, or try harder to write true depictions of those from other subcultures.  That’s it. That’s all you can do. If a playwright isn’t writing honest characters into being with why do we care that they’re writing cultural stereotypes?

So we honestly need to let NYC off the hook a little bit. New York isn’t a national theatre. It is New York theatre. The single biggest flaw in the repeated shotgun blasts from Mr. Walters is that he lumps the broader media in with theatre, and frankly they have different scopes and different responsibilities and it’s muddying the picture.

Los Angeles on the other hand is squarely on the hook. L.A. is national media. L.A. sets the tone for our national dialogue in a way we only wish that live performance could. And they are just as lazy about cultural stereotyping as Mr. Walters says. Again I am surprised that this is an open question. Are we all watching different mainstream media?


As to the rancor over bias:

I am biased.

All I can do is be aware of my biases and not let them destroy my work.

  • I am am biased against musical theatre
  • I am biased against children’s theatre
  • I am biased against community theatre
  • I am biased towards word plays
  • I am biased toward political themes
  • I am biased toward didacticism
  • I am biased toward cleverness (text or performance)
  • I am biased toward over-exposition
  • I am biased against “issue” plays
    (no this is not in conflict with above)
  • I am biased toward new work
  • I am biased against mature actors
  • I am biased against cultural conservatism

I’ll add on as more come to me. This of course will feel different than, say, being biased against the Country (to borrow Isaac’s construct), but they are just as destructive to the work, and towards building community (which I take as part of my responsibility as an artist). Besides I’m not sure where I fall on the City/Country scale with my 24 years in New Hampshire, 5 in San Francisco, and 3 in Austin.

I have more raw years in New Hampshire, but the large percentage of my adult life in urban and semi-urban environs.


Follow up sins:

  • “I am not biased therefore New York is not biased” is fallacious.
  • Claiming to rep your old hood while in New York is disingenuous.
  • Trying to use lack of specific data backing up an editorial as a terminal point is weak, especially on such a broad topic. Argue the premise. It’s not a journal article.
  • The New York theatre scene is not [any more] persecuted [than theatre anywhere else]. Not matter how many times Scott Walters calls you out. It’s just different persecution. The criticism comes with being in first place. (Ask the Yankees)

Go see:

In New York?

Madagascar, by New World Theatre; written by Wry Lachlan, Directed by Meghan Dickerson, featuring members of my former tribe all over the place.

In Austin?

The King and I by Forklift Danceworks.

Brilliant Traces by the Vestige Group featuring the always good Andrew Varenhorst.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – over at Scottish Rite – featuring old ArtSpark mate Illy herrin as Puck.

and last but not least: The 2007 ArtSpark Festival is here! Check it out.