There's some back-story reading necessary to provide context for this post, but, it's interesting stuff, so check it out:
Mike Daisy wrote and performs "How Theatre Failed America" and if you don't know what that is, you've got a lot more reading to do if you wanna catch up. Google it.
Teresa Eyring wrote this editorial response in the current issue of American Theatre
Mike Daisy wrote this reply.
This is what i think about it:
In these contrasting opinions I've noticed something bigger than the questions about theatre being presented. I really really like a lot of what Mike Daisy says, most of it is stuff that was obvious to me as soon as I started producing theatre and it's great to have my perspective validated by someone much more connected to the "real" theatre world.
But, i strongly disagree with Daisy's claim that theatre artists are entitled to benefits and garaunteed long-term employment. Eyring's claim that this problem doesn't exist is specious for the reasons Daisy points out, but it does open the door for my conclusion: theatre should not provide such things.
I look at these things from an economic trends perspective. The institutional patronage system that Daisy is looking for is old school capitalism. He seems to want the theatre artists to become "The Company Man". That's regressive. Corporations are doing that less in every sector because innovators found greater efficiency in loose freelance, subcontracting and flextime arrangements. Trying to establish (or re-establish) old school capitalism on theatre artists where it seems doubly inappropriate given casting and the project orientated nature of theatre work, is bound to fail, as it should be.
It was the creative class that spearheaded this rearrangement of labor relations, and yes, the transition is sloppy, leaves people out of things like health insurance and benefits, but as labor relations go, freelancing and shifting employment can empower workers as well as benefiting companies. What's more, it's a radically different labor relation, which is a step toward a post-capitalist society, something i think theatre will be VERY invovled in.
5 days ago