Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Midwest Theatre Explosion?

Sunday night an exciting synchronicity occurred. Random things fell into place perfectly and exciting shit came together. By 11:00 I was laying awake in bed, when I needed to be sleeping (early wake up for my day job and hardly any sleep night before) but I was giddy, sending out text messages that say things like:

“Film portraits. Tim suit posed not moving waiting looking at camera instead of photos one minute films Russian experimental Tuesday junkyard dog park.”

And getting responses like:

“email hames confused pony marshmallow”


“I think I love you”

Here’s the deal: went to see The Nonsense Company at Darling Hall with someone i hardly knew.

The Nonsense Company does what I’ve been thinking we oughta do: they tour a theatre show on the punk rock circuit. Also, their show is FUCKING AMAZING. They’re from Madison, and watching the play I am totally reminded of all the Brecht research I’ve been doing. They are in some ways achieving what Brecht aimed for. When I think about their tour and their group… what appears to be the economics of their action, I’m reminded of Grotowski, cuz this punk rock touring things is what Grotowski made me want to do.

The someone i hardly know is a young woman named Katy. If you follow Insurgent Theatre and Rex Winsome, I think you’ll be seeing a lot more of Katy, at least I hope so. Turns out she’s totally into Brecht, has studied Grotowski, and is much more a theatre person than I had thought. She’s also just moved back to Milwaukee after spending a couple years in Minneapolis. On the way home, talking about the show, and things she saw and did in Minneapolis, and what we’ve done in MKE, and seen in Chicago, she mused that the Midwest in America today is the new central Europe of the 1970s.

Is it true?

When we produced Reverb in 2003, I was hoping that MKE was ripe for some hot shit. That this city could do for theatre what Seattle did for music in the 90s. Is this starting to happen? Between Insurgent Theatre, Pink Banana, Alamo Basement, Bad Soviet Habits, The Astor Theater, Bucketworks, Primary Colors, Quasi Theatre, etc etc, it surely looks like the beginnings of something. When Milwaukee lost Bialystock and Bloom all the mainstream press bewailed the departure of experimental cutting edge theatre in this city. I surely do miss B+B, wish I had taken more advantage of it while it was here, but from my perspective, (that is: on the street and underground) the DIY theatre scene might be filling that gap with work that is ultimately more experimental, more cutting edge, more locally derived and connected and (if I’m not proven wrong) more revolutionary and even more economically sustainable.

The fact that all the other major cities in our region seem to be experiencing a similar growth of new theatre gives me even more encouragement.

It’s time for some field trips.

It also time insurgent theatre made a good bare bones “poor theatre” type production that we can tour with.

The most beautiful thing about all of this is I don’t know if I’m right at all. Is it a regional phenomenon, or is the same shit going on on the coasts or down south? If we dug into underground scenes accross the country would we find the same thing? This not-knowing is beautiful because, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we are part of a spontaneous, decentralized movement. Whether that movement is regional, national or international, our task is the same.

We must:
produce more theatre.
produce better theatre.
make the theatre we produce more prominent in our community.
take our theatre to other communities.

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