The first thing I noticed in the July/August edition was in the obit on Arthur Ballet (1924-2012) by David Visser he had a great definition for dramaturgy. I went to a LAMDA (the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas) conference in 1999 where they were discussing trying to define that word, and it was decided that it was a better idea not to define it, but...I like this one anyway, so I'm going to type it here. "Perhaps through Eric Bentley, Arthur gained an appreciation of the role of dramaturg, that somewhat elusive presence from European theatre that helps bridge any distance between author and director." (22) I like that turn of phrase "bridge any distance between author and director," it really keeps the position ambiguous, but is also very clear about what they need to do.
Another discovery I made about dramaturgy in this edition was the article "Dance-Makers Get a Little Help from Their Friends" by Rit Feliciano. I have been a dramaturg for many different kinds of theater productions: classics, new plays, contemporary plays, readings, staged readings, etc., but I have never thought about being a dramaturg for a dance piece. "Putting together a piece of cogent choreography shouldn't be that hard. After all, the raw material at your disposal has a head, a torso and four limbs, just like yourself. The beauty and bane of dance is that it gets created on the living human beings standing in front of you--you may have an idea, perhaps a piece of music to work with, but there is no script, no score, that can back you up or elaborate on what you see in front of you...Worse, there is no (or at least very little) history of the art form that you can consult. Composers have hundreds of compositions that they can embrace or reject. So do playwrights or painters. As a dancer, you are on your own. Even with the technology that has become available in the past 50 years, not much of the choreographic past has survived. History, of course, can be a burden. But with historic awareness, at least you know what you want to get rid of..."In theater there is a long history of dramaturgy, and of someone coming in and creating a context of what is being investigated," observes [Margaret] Jenkins. "In dance, for many reasons, we have not created a community of people who are in constant dialogue about the craft of making work." (46) I loved this concept. I mean, I love being a dramaturg, when I have the opportunity, and I would jump at the chance to be in the room to help create a dance piece. I have always loved dance, but I started the discipline late, and there really wasn't a future for me in it, but...I know a lot about its classical and contemporary history, and for four years worked as a Managing Director for a theater that produced largely contemporary dance. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for more opportunities in this arena.
I currently teach Musical Theater in two sections at the Public Academy for the Performing Arts in Albuquerque, NM, and I lectured on what makes a libretto and how composers and lyricists collaborate on "the book" of a musical. I found the little highlight on page 25 about the writing team for FAR FROM HEAVEN enlightening in regards to how the musical theater writing process is changing and adapting. "But in transporting FAR FROM HEAVEN to the stage, composer Scott Frankel, lyricist Michael Korie and book writer Richard Greenberg had to reconcile the fact that musicals are by their very nature unrestrained. The writing team decided that the musical score and songs would serve the same purpose as the visual cues and stylizations of Hayne's film, which is part homage, part deconstruction of 1950s-era Hollywood weepies like Douglas Sirk's ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS and IMITATION OF LIFE...'The movie was all about restraint and what is not spoken," says Frankel, who, along with Korie, was Tony-nominated for the score of GREY GARDENS in 2007. "But musicals give you the opportunity to understand the interior life of the characters. The songs are the equivalent of film close-ups--when the camera zooms in and you see the pain, the bitter disappointment or the anger on a character's face."' (25)
In September of 2011 I finished the dual tome on Eugene O'Neill written by Louis Schaeffer. Earlier that year I directed THE ICEMAN COMETH at Washington State Penitentiary. My favorite play is LONG DAYS JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, and largely because I love the truth of his characters and the fact that I'm not sure with all my dramaturgical background, how that play works...it just does. I also was recently in a play inspired by O'Neill's HAIRY APE (a play I adore and taught for three years as a great example of Expressionism). Anyway, I am a bit obsessed with Eugene O'Neill, to say the least, and I was happy to see a nice spread on his early works being produced all over the United States this year. I really liked the quote that mentioned that "O'Neill was the first great American playwright in large part because he was the first to challenge audiences with a genuinely tragic vision of the human condition--a vision that consistently presents death as the only lasting peace achievable." (27) Morbid, I know, but...there's some truth to it that anyone who has lost someone close knows.
I re-read many of the O'Neill plays that are in the public domain this summer looking for something produce, and I was surprised that I liked BEYOND THE HORIZON. I read it when I was in undergrad and re-read my notes on it, and all I could see was that I did not like it...but age has apparently made this play make more sense to me. I liked the quote that Wendy Smith (the writer for the O'Neill article) had about this play: "BEYOND THE HORIZON's merciless insistence that mistakes can't be undone, that life is too implacable to allow for redemption." (28) I think at that point in O'Neill's life his worldview was indeed stuck in regards to his feelings for his mother and father and that he was pretty sure he would never forgive them for his upbringing. In comparison to LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, which definitely feels as though it is a play that struggles with trying to forgive, as Nina says in STRANGE INTERLUDE, "Our ghosts would torture us to death!" and Mary Tyrone says in LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, "The past is the present [and] the future too. We all try to lie out of that but life won't let us."
Greek tragedy was my favorite exploration in my Junior year of undergrad. I loved the simplicity and depth of the language and Wendy Smith in this article mentions: "Greek tragedy was one of O'Neill's touchstones, not only in his understanding of theatre but of life itself. Depicting a world in which human being commit crimes without intending to, driven by forces they cannot control but may at last come to comprehend, the ORESTEIA and OEDIPUS REX provided a philosophical frame that could encompass the guilt and grief of a teenager wracked with the knowledge that his birth had been the cause of his mother's morphine addiction." (31)
Michael Kahn, who staged the nine-act STRANGE INTERLUDE at his Shakespeare Theatre Compny in Washington, D.C. said in an interview about directing O'Neill: "I do a lot of Shakespeare--both O'Neill and Shakespeare had really gargantuan notions of what theatre could be, and say, and do. The variety of ideas, their richness, the size of their vision...you really have to go up the mountain with these guys. And they're always ahead of you. You can't try to reduce them to your level. O'Neill is a genius, no question in my mind. It's really something to get up in the morning and work with a genius." I so agree. As painful as it was to drag costumes, props, etc. up the hill to Washington State Penitentiary and watch them go through the metal detector and sometimes have to walk them back down the hill to the parking lot before my class, I loved every minute I was honored to listen to O'Neill's words be said by people who had, in fact, been in the same room for almost 20 years. I think it's difficult with our professional standards to meet actors who have actually lived the lives that O'Neill writes about, but...I did and the play was revealed to me in a way I couldn't have experienced in professional theater.
In Albuquerque the film industry has taken off a bit and I constantly have to defend my decision to be in "live" theater, and I think in my reading I tend to zero in on anything that has a clear definition on the difference between the two art forms. In Stuart Miller's article called "The Scenic Route," he detailed just one of those definitions that excite my "live theater" insistence: "Theatre, unlike film, communicates through language. With a movie, we often remember the stunning visuals--Sonny Corleone getting gunned down in THE GODFATHER, E.T. and Elliot saying good-bye in a windy field lit by a glowing spaceship, or the elaborate panoramas of LORD OF THE RINGS and AVATAR--while a screenplay's text, beyond a few catchphrases, may fade in our minds. But in a play, it's the words, be they Shakespeare's or August Wilson's, we most often treasure. When the majority of playwrights sit down to write, they tend naturally to focus on story and characters, hearing their creations speaking dialogue...Yet people never say they're going to "listen" to a play--they go to "see" one. A great set can profoundly enhance a play, just as a poor design can hinder even a good one. And the creative collision between the images the playwright conjured while writing and teh ones brought to life by the designer produces varied results..." (33)
The Stuart Miller article was great for several reasons: one was the above quote and another is a concept I've never really thought of before and that is Playwrighting for Scenic Designers. I have to say that I found my Scenic Design class in grad school to be one of the biggest changes my thought process took in regards to theater and, interestingly, I was taking my second year of playwrighting at that time, and preparing for my thesis, so...I found this quote fascinating: "[John Lee] Beatty testifies...In fact, he declares, designers find it "stultifying" when playwrights get too specific in their written descriptions of either visual details or staging solutions...Beatty's reservations strike LaBute and Kushner as perfectly reasonable--both writers say they couldn't imagine indulging in the spell-it-all-out, Eugene O'Neill approach to stage directions. "If it's very important I'll put it on the page, but if not, I'll let it go," LaButte says. "I have trust in my collaborators."...Of course, collaborations like that of Auburn and Beatty don't occur in isolation--the main relationship [between] the playwright and the designer is really with the director. Thus, playwrights say, finding a director who's on the same page is the crucial first step..." (34)
Stuart Miller then goes on to detail the trinity of the communication that should occur between designers, playwrights, and their bridge, the director. '"Wilson's directorial concept was enormously challenging to me," allows Neil Patel, the show's scenic designer. "And I heard plenty from Nicky [Silver]; he's not shy about saying what he thinks." While Patel likes working with Silver and will go so far as to show him swatches for choosing certain colors, the designer says there was nothing he could do in that situation. "Playwrights can be involved in the design process and even have veto power," Patel says, but adds, "Ultimately, I am answering to the director." (34)
I adore Tony Kushner's writing and I thought it was very funny that he was in Stuart Miller's article discussing this trinity between designer, director, and playwright, where he learned something about himself. '"I worry about the weakening of my concentration on the tasks of the playwright," he reasons. There is, he confesses, also a pragmatic reason behind this separation of powers. "With the first production of ANGELS IN AMERICA, I surprised myself at how little help I could actually be." In his early days he fantasized about writing, directing and designing his own plays, but he "let go of that impulse, especially as I came to understand that what scenic designers do is really much more difficult that what I naively thought." I mentioned above that taking a Scenic Design class was a turning point for me in my theater thinking process and the main reason is that I realized that it's bloody hard, and some people are just not good at it...Me...
When I finished reading Moss Hart's wonderful autobiography ACT ONE and I was amazed that in previews they threw a set that cost $40,000 in the 1930s in the garbage because it wasn't working for the play. I don't know if I would have the courage to do something like that...and I sat with that thought for awhile. On a smaller note in the Stuart Miller article, you see another instance where audiences definitely change what happens to a play. "Beatty says his own most unusual design adjustment came on the 1980 Broadway production of Lanford Wilson's FIFTH OF JULY, about a gay paraplegic Vietnam veteran, which read like a drama but got so many laughs in the first preview "that it turned out he'd written a comedy. So we changed the wallpaper and the paint in the house to lighten things up." (35)
Of course, the final say, in the Stuart Miller article come from none other than the playwright known to speak his mind...Edward Albee: "It is crucial for a playwright to say no if the designer goes too far, according to Albee. One change in recent years that alarms him is that "so many young playwrights are pushed into thinking they are a small part of a large wheel. That is terribly dangerous. We shouldn't have absolute authority, but it's our play." (81)
The opening letter from the editor of AMERICAN THEATRE, Jim O'Quinn, had a lovely opening from TCG executive director, Teresa Eyring, in regards to the 2012 TCG conference. "If knowledge is power," she reasoned, "then innovation comes from plugging into each other." (4) I sometimes struggle with how "plugged in" we have become in the past 10 years. There are certain things, i.e. Twitter, that I am not "plugged into," but I do see that many others are, and future audiences definitely are. I recognize that as a theater artist in what Moliere or Shakespeare would call "the provinces" I must stay "plugged in" to stay relevant.
In my other blogs I have mentioned that I am working toward my Alternative Licensure certificate for a New Mexico Teaching license, and I have had to read a lot of articles on NCLB (No Child Left Behind), and in my class discussions on-line (again, that "plugged in" world), I often mention that legislation as a deal breaker for me, in regards to continuing in the K-12 teaching world. In Teresa Eyring's opening article she talks about September as being the month of new beginnings, especially for the school year. The theme of this one-page article entitled "Closing the Arts Gap" is indeed that deal breaker. "As outlined in the recent National Center for Educational Statistic's Fast Response Survey System, the percentage of public schools offering arts education declines as the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch increases...The reality that schools with a higher concentration of students in poverty are less likely to offer arts education is made more painful by the demonstrable impact of the arts in contributing to positive social outcomes. I outlined some of this in my research in my May/June column, titled, "Citizen Building," and just read that while graduation rates in Washington D.C., fell to 59 percent overall in 2011, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts boasted a 92-percent graduation rate...With all this research and our own firsthand experience, how can we explain dismaying statistics such as the drop in theatre-specific instruction at public elementary schools from 20 percent in 1999-2000 to only 4 percent by 2009-10? It is connected to the now-famous No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which shifted focus to standardized tests as the way to improve and measure student achievement?" (6) Well, it doesn't take a genius to realize that 59 percent vs. 92 percent is a huge jump, so, obviously, we artists are doing something better than the ill-advised No Child Left Behind. Clearly, by reducing the arts, we have, indeed, left children behind.
I did, indeed, vote for President Obama, and largely because I don't like to be told what I can and cannot do with my body, but also because my job depends on it. Everyone is talking about the economy and how it is worse under Obama, and it's a fact that I've suffered right along with everyone else: I lost a house to the housing market crash, I declared bankruptcy two years later when I couldn't keep up with the penalties forced upon me by the loss of my house, I lost a job in November 2011, and I had to move in the middle of the winter with dogs and all my belongings or be doomed to be "stuck" where I was. I knew that my luck would only become worse under Romney's administration because he promised to cut the arts even further. The only person, with a fighting chance, who went on record and was willing to support the arts was Obama. I couldn't for my body and for my livelihood support anyone else. "Since 2007, NCLB has been awaiting congressional reauthorization. In this vacuum of uncertainty, President Obama and the Department of Education instituted a waiver system whereby states could apply to obtain relief from some of the act's mandates in return for instituting substantial school reforms. News reports in July of this year revealed that 32 states, plus Washington D.C., have been approved for the waiver--relief that could disappear when the law is reauthorized...Another promising development in this administration's commitment to arts education is a new program called Turnaround Arts. Announced by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), this public-private partnership is designed to narrow the achievement gap by aggressively deploying arts education in high-poverty, low-performing schools. This program was inspired by PCAH's landmark 2011 research study, "Re-investing in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools." [...] That study recommends expanding the role of teaching artists, in partnership with arts specialists and classroom teachers, through sustained engagements in schools." Theatres and theatre-teaching artists have long been at the forefront of this kind of sustained engagement..." (Eyring, 6) I hope that this continues in Obama's next administration. Obviously, NCLB is not working 59 percent vs. 92 percent...Duh!
In the obituary on Theodore Mann (1924-2012), Nick Wyman (current president of Actor's Equity), said: "I learned that if I wanted to make a living on the stage, I needed to do musicals and light comedy." (18) It's funny because right before that he talks about the education he got at Circle in the Square from Ted Manna and Paul Libin, which included all the classics, and he says: "...perhaps the classics are what actors do in acting class." (18) It's true. I was just writing about the fact that I loved learning Restoration Acting and reading the plays in school, and, yet, I've never performed it, and it's also true that the things I love most: the classics and the avant-garde, are rarely how I make my living in theater. I, do, indeed, and have made, my living in theater through musicals. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate musicals; they were my first love in theater, but, my true love still continues to be the classics and the contemporary avant-garde. Oh well. It's true...there's the business and there's the education.
I was quite touched and intrigued by the little spotlight entitled "A Pledge to Remember" written by Lily Tung Crystal about George Takei's involvement with a musical written about his family's experience in the Japanese internment camps during WWII. He was not only the inspiration for the musical entitled ALLEGIANCE, but he is also in the production in at the Old Globe in San Diego. I especially liked the quote from Takei at the end of the small spotlight: "It's vitally important for Americans to know about those moments where we fail our national ideals," Takei asserts, adding, "WE have enough chapters about the glory of our democracy, but we learn more from the chapters where we made mistakes." (23) I should take a moment here and gush about Geoge Takei...I love his posts on Facebook, he's a role model for the LGTB community, and, now, gosh! I can't get enough of this guy. STAR TREK, to me, is only a blip on this guy's history...
The next article I began in the September edition had an awesome quote just sitting in its caption that said: "Working solely for the artist, or working only for the audience--that's a false dichotomy. There is a kind of theatre that can do both." This quote was said by the Artistic Director of Cleveland's Public Theatre, Raymond Bobgan, who the interview is about. There are several things in this preview article to the interview and the interview itself that inspired me and intrigued me. I'll discuss both.
The intriguing moment came when I read the fact that when he took over CPT he inherited $450,000 of debt and a company that was already in the process of launching a $7.1-million restoration project/revitalization project (of which, I read about in another AMERICAN THEATRE, probably in 2006 or 2007). Anyway, I was intrigued because in my Junior year of undergrad, my theater history professor was the pioneering producer/theater manager John Kazanjian. Everyday in class he would start his lectures with, "Okay you, motherf**kers, this is what we're gonna talk about..." Often it would be about how the mid-size theater company world had changed since the infamous court case involving 'the NEA Four' that essentially decimated the federal funding for the arts that many theater companies had come to expect. Well, anyway, John Kazanjian told us that when he saw this trend start many mid-size theater companies were at a crossroads where they had to decide whether or not they were going to "go large" or "go small". New City Theater, John's theater decided to go small, and most of the other mid-size theater's decided to "go large". Well, if anyone knows about Seattle theater in the 1990s, they know all of those mid-size theaters no longer exist, except New City. So...I made this assumption in our current artist economic blight, that most theaters were going to have to "go small," but then I read this quote from the interview that intrigued me: "He turned CPT's fiscal and creative situation around, despite all the financial risks of doing theatre in a slow economy, not by pulling back but by programming even more theatre, and a riskier kind of theatre to boot." (24) What!? I guess it goes to show that if the artistic mission is strong, then...apparently, it will survive.
Several things inspired me from this article. The first thing was CPT's work with homeless men who are dealing with addiction. "But perhaps the most moving tribute to Bobgan's agenda comes from a former heroin addict named J.R. Easterly. After participating for several years in CPT's Y-Haven Theatre Project, Easterly kicked his habit and now works backstage at the theatre, a changed man. Easterly embodies Bobgan's frequently articulated, baseline idea that theatre can and should transform people's lives." (25) When I worked at Washington State Penitentiary, I had this hope for the men who took my theater classes. I hoped that the empathy and universal truths that theater is so good at, would give them a new worldview, and, hopefully change their lives. I'm not sure how successful I was or theater was in doing this, but I have received some letters from some of ex-students who were in prison, and are now auditioning in the community theaters of the towns they live in. So...maybe...
The first question in the interview of Raymond Bobgan was: "What is theatre?" And, as mentioned earlier, I'm always looking for definitions that really differentiate it from the other art forms...this is a good one, and an inspiring one: "Theatre can exist only on a spectrum say from Chekhov to Cirque du Soleil, from SOUTH PACIFIC to Neil LaBute. Which kind of theatre do I aspire to? I've been told I'm earnest, and I suppose that's true. Where do I want to fit into that spectrum? I want to fit into that place where the connection with the community meets theatre and becomes life-changing. When audiences come to theatre, something should happen to them--something that goes beyond the two hours in the theatre, something that creates new worlds and new meanings. That's why CPT is such an exciting place to work. It brings together this very adventurous kind of theatre that breaks molds but seeks to engage the community. It can't just be artists talking to artists; it has to be artists talking with the audience." (26) I think that one speaks for itself.
I also appreciated his take on gurus. My partner (who is a theater artist) and I always talk about our loathing for the "theater gurus" of the world. No one should idolize someone so much that their artistic vision becomes clouded. Mr. Babgon was trained by Jerzy Grotwoski (whose philosophies on theater I quite like), but he mentions that when he was in school, he didn't like the "hero" status that Grotowski was given by students who considered him a "guru". Even though Mr. Babgon didn't like the "guru" crap, he still works in a "Grotowski" way...which was nice to hear that there are Artistic Directors who are now working in more supposed avant-garde theater philosophies. "...what excited me, and still excites me, about Grotowski is the sense that the actor or performer is the center of the theatre experience--that actors can and should create personal material for themselves, that you can take a montage of all these meaningful thing." (26)
One problem I always had with Grotowski's work, when I was studying him, was that it seemed like he was what Jacques Barzun liked to call "Art in a Vacuum". Mr. Babgon and I agree in this, I assume. "But I don't think Grotowski was ultimately interested in the audience. He was deep, but narrow. I'm not interested in creating the most popular kind of theatre, but I do want to connect with my audience...You can't conned with everybody, but there has to be a sense that you're there for the audience. Grotowski talked about conventional theatre as being a brothel, and the actor using himself or herself as a prostitute to make the audience laugh or cry. Grotowski wanted to create a theatre monastery. That's just masturbation, some people might say. Working solely for the artist, or working only for the audience--that's a ridiculously false dichotomy." (26)
My favorite quote of all time is from Thorton Wilder's OUR TOWN: "Do people ever realize life as they live it every every minute?" I have always held a special place in my heart for this overdone play, and I found Bobgan's musings on it to be one of the more interesting things I've read about OUR TOWN in a while: "I have this sense that OUR TOWN is an American version of the TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD. The first time I read it, I thought it was a silly, meaningless play about living in small-town America. Years later, I realized this is a play about life and death, something important that goes to the core of being an American, passing from this world into the next. It became a matter of how to make this play a way of recollecting ourselves. And it came to me that the Stage Manager can become the town, the characters reminding each other and themselves what it was like in the physical world." (27) Bobgan's production took the Stage Manager out of the play. I'm not sure how it would look, but I'm intrigued, nonetheless.
There was a truly fascinating article that I've been sitting with for weeks now about the Tony-Award-Winning set designer Donyale Werle, who attempts to design green. However, it wasn't just the idea that she attempts to design that fascinated me...it was her process in general. I'll leave this blog with some highlights: '"Compressed space was also very important," she adds.
"We dropped the ceilings and our openings. When you transfer a show from downtown, you have to keep in mind the reason people are drawn to it is because of the intimate feel. If you 'blow it up,' you lose that instantly. The trick is trying to get the scale to feel small, but still be able to project it a large distance."' (31)
'"The materials teach me, instead of the other way around. I couldn't force a material to do what I wanted it to do." This idea comes out of Werle's upbringing in Nashville, Tenn. "I come from a family of environmentalists. My dad's a landscape architect who was involved in the solar movement in the '70s, so grew up that way."' (31)
The 2012 TCG Conference summary was in the September issue, and I had several little things underlined and notes in my margins. The first was from a quote in the first paragraph: "We're an idealistic set, and often in this less-than-perfect world, we complain about the less-than-ideal circumstances--both economic and artistic--under which we toil." (32) Boy oh boy could I comment and comment about this quote, but...duh! it speaks for itself.
"In group gatherings--at staff meeting or after tough rehearsals--a sense of frustration often hangs in the air like a cartoon cloud of doom. At theatre conferences, these clouds can multiply. After all, a conference (Webster's tells us) discusses maters of common concern." (32) In other blogs I have mentioned that I'm a 6-12 school teacher now, and this 'cloud of doom' phrase that multiplies and breeds in meetings is so prevalent that I have to restrain myself from throwing an adult tantrum and leaving the room. Common concerns can create the most unlivable environment in a group of people, and those common concerns are rarely interpreted as the same. "Our job, each in our own ways, is to empower artists to make great art and share it as widely as possible. And in that fundamental task, our theater has not failed America." (33) I think, if people could just focus on the unity of the arts, then, maybe, these 'clouds of doom' could dissipate, but, so often, people are so enamored by their own cleverness that they don't have any perspective that their work is 'to make great art and share it as widely as possible.'
While working in 6-12, I have been making all sorts of discoveries about the "assembly line" of teaching. This idea that the same age is where we should group students, as though their date of birth speaks volumes about their ability. In a charter school for the performing arts, there are many classes that have all the grades in one room because of ability, and I find that this system of ability works so much better than the supposed assembly line theory. The TCG Conference Summary Article had a great quote that twinned with my experience in 6-12 teaching in a charter school for the performing arts. "'[We place] the entire burden for innovation at the feet of our playwrights, but ask little of directors, designers and actors other than to try to fulfill the playwright's vision." [...] Looking back to the Group Theatre model, Shalwitz extolled the shared sense of purpose that marks the great ensemble work and challenged the U.S. theatre's current "assembly line" culture, in which a script is first researched, written and developed, with design and rehearsal bringing up the rear. [...] "Theatrical innovation is the job of actors, directors, playwrights, designers, dramaturgs, production managers, technical directors and everyone else who works in our theater," Shalwitz declared. "But creating the space for that innovation to happen--that is the job of artistic directors, managing directors and other theatre leaders." There is so much in this quote that I could comment on, but...I'll just say that this year I had trouble in communicating with some of my colleagues because my idea of a 'vision' or 'mission statement,' is, indeed, more on the lines of what I quoted here, than a mere 'code of ethics.' I think sometimes in our 'current "assembly line" culture,' artists focus too heavily on the 'ethics' and 'corporatization' of theater that they forget that it is our job to look beyond the 'ethics' and 'corporatization,' in order to be not become stagnant and to do our job: which is to be transformative.
Also, in the TCG Summary Article there was some great discussion on branding and positioning versus singularity versus competition. "'We've branded ourselves to death," [Seth Godin] quipped, gesturing at a humorous projection of a baby covered in logos. In the old days, theatre could be successful by virtue of its singularity, but that's not the case anymore--there's too much competition from too many other sectors. [...] It is the job of theatres to "lead their flock," Godin posited, and not just the normal, bell-curve position of that flock. "Find the center of your tribe..."' (34)
In many of my blogs I have used the term 'native users,' which I stole from an NPR program I listened to on the way to work once. Anyway, in the TCG Conference Article there was a little quote that capitalized on my feelings in this area. "Whit MacLaughlin, artistic director of Philadelphia's New Paradise Laboratory, described his company's stake in what he calls "Internet real estate," and showed footage of a recent performance that consisted of a first act via video in viewers' bedrooms, followed by act two as a public intervention with the use of iPhones, and act three as an underground concert. John Francis Bueche, executive artistic director of Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis, and Diane Paulus, artistic director of Cambridge, Mass.'s American Repertory Theater, extolled their own theatres' use of community spaces. For Paulus, realizing that the idea of her theatre was stronger and more potent than the building itself was a revelation." (35) Later, in another article about Austin's Fusebox Festival, the organizers were talking about what do in the next festival. "Berry and company are pursuing a series for 2013 that would investigate our relationship to technology by pairing techno-nerds with artists, similar to the foodie/artist mix of "Digestible Feats." [The 2012 theme]." (50)
I laughed out loud on page 59 of the September issue with this quote...which is also great advice: "'If you're going to start a theatre, the first thing you need to know is that there needs to be someone willing to give up their whole life and make the grant and tax deadlines. If you can't identify that one person, don't start a company."'
To end this section on September's issue, I just want to reiterate how much I love Thornton Wilder and I was so happy to read this quote from Christopher Durang at the end of the magazine: "Will Chekhov be rolling in his grave, or laughing gleefully, or some combination thereof? I don't think he's in his grave. I think he and Thornton Wilder have achieved nirvana and their spirits are sending wonderful vibrations throughout the entire universe. Although they don't seem able to stop global warming..." (96)