You must believe me when I tell you, Constant Reader, that I would have blogged about any other subject if it were feasible. But alas, this week’s Washington Post op-ed by Monica Byrne, “Why Theater (in its current form) Does Not Deserve to be Saved,” has utterly dominated the conversation of my peers. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, it’s not quite the provocation it seems; the form of theater it laments is the sort of large institutional non-profit where real estate costs and administrative bloat have choked off the ability to function. We’ve all heard the stories of such theatre’s troubles, especially of late. Half my friends have shouted “yes, preach!” to its message; the other half have retorted that the piece doesn’t actually offer any viable solutions, and that since some degree of administration is absolutely necessary it’s wrong to vilify the whole field as parasitic, and the cause of all our troubles.
Frankly, I’m tired of the whole conversation – in its insular focus on theatrical administration it ignores the larger economic and social climate, the questions of what theatre artists should be trying to say, whether we should expect a cash-strapped audience to fork over hard-earned money if we don’t have anything to say, and so on – and would love to be able to ignore it. To talk about anything else.
But can I?
Well, I had an in-person planning project last Tuesday for an upcoming collaboration. But that’s something long range (I mentioned to my collaborator that I’d probably have a draft by sometime this fall), so I really can’t talk about it yet. Other than that my collaborator’s offices are ridiculously nice.
I had a zoom planning project on Wednesday for the next reading of Before Vinson, which will be at Playwrights Theatre of East Hampton next month. But again, that’s happening next month, and the real work on the script happened when I took the script to Valdez back in June. So again, not much to say right now other than that we’ve all gotten adept at Zoom.
I saw a friend’s show in the Samuel French Off-off Broadway theatre competition on Thursday, and a bunch of us playwrights went out for drinks afterwards. But that festival ended yesterday, so I can’t really promote her show any more. (Though you can always go to NPX and show it some love).
The Tuesdays at Nine readings start up next month; we had a summer picnic for our gang yesterday, which was nice, but the bulk of my prep work (done this weekend) was spent reviewing our script pile. Hours of me reading and scribbling on post-it notes. Again, not tremendously exciting.
So alas, the conversation remains about the most recent jeremiad about how theatre is doomed. Feel free to participate in that conversation if you wish. For myself, however, I’d rather actually do this thing, then lament that it cannot be done. (I do seem to spend a lot of time these days doing this thing that cannot be done.)