Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Love This

Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves

Read it! Read it NOW! it's short and funny and TRUE!

here's my reactions to each of them.

1. Enough with the goddamned Shakespeare already. Yes! Please! Thank you for making this number one. Get his fucking corpse off of us!

2. Tell us something we don't know. Every play in your season should be a premiere—a world premiere, an American premiere, or at least a regional premiere. Every play in every Insurgent Theatre season has always been a world premiere and always will be.

3. Produce dirty, fast, and often. This is a little trickier. There's a limit to how much of this you can do. We found it last summer, and it's damn near killed us.

4. Get them young. This seems self evident.

5.Offer child care. This is ingenoius advice for the companies that have parents in their audiences. We don't have that problem so much.

6. Fight for real estate. When you lose that fight, perform illegally.

7. Build bars. i wish i wish i wish they weren't right about this, but the fact of the matter is, if americans (especially milwaukeeans) aren't able to get trashed, they aren't interested. I especially like the last line: Tax, zoning, and liquor laws in your way? Change them or ignore them. Do what it takes.

8. Boors' night out. This is another great idea, and one that we could actually use. For some parts of Paint the Town, every night should be Boors' night out.

9. Expect poverty. Sad but true. But, if we do these things, then poverty will be a temporary condition. Theatre can become sustainable art form providing economic stability for artists again, but we've got to tear it down and rebuild it to make that happen.

10. Drop out of graduate school. Not just grad school. Drop out of any and all theatre programs. They've got nothing to offer but debt and the opportunity to work for zombies. Get together and learn to act the way all the people your professors and classes romanticize, by experimenting in a tight-knit self-guided workshops, and by producing shows.


Beck said...

fantastic. I agree. Let me know how I can help.

Tracy said...

YAY!!! I also loved everything he had to say. And agree with your comments. You should meet this fellow and coerce him to work with us. And by coerce I mean drag kicking and screaming as we pummel him. Because I always enjoy a good pummelling. Did you research what he's doing in Seattle?

Rex Winsome said...

So, The Stranger (who published that) allows comments, and WHOO have they got a lot of them.

Anyway, here's a copy of mine:

"I've read the first 100 or so of these comments and i've noticed a couple of interesting threads weaving through here. There seems to be one group (we'll call them The Establishment) saying: "We CAN'T do these things, Brendan! Give up The Bard? Published works? Equity? Our aging donors? Oh no, that's IMPOSSIBLE!" and another group (we'll call them The Fringe) saying "damn it Brendan, we're already doing a bunch of these things, but we're losing our asses anyway!"

These two groups clearly have conflicting interests. As much as it's nice to all get along and be friendly with each other, there comes a time when we need to recognize when we're at cross purposes. When the relationship between two groups naturally OUGHT to be antagonistic.

By antagonistic, i mean The Fringe needs to start pushing The Establishment out of the way. We have to stop letting them define what "theatre" is, need to stop supporting artists who sell out, betraying theatre for a shitty but paying (and poorly at that) role with The Establishment, and need to stop kissing ass whenever The Establishment takes a dump.

The reason The Stranger and the majority of young people are more excited about (and give more press to) the music scene is that independent musicians are independent. They have thoroughly distanced themselves from radio friendly pop, and from old folks who shit their pants when they hear Sinatra or Bach.

It's becoming increasingly clear that this is the model Fringe Theatre needs to follow, and it starts at the artist level. Have you ever listened to indie rockers or punks rip each other up for even listening to radio friendly schmaltz? It's devastating, and it indicates a real passion for the kind of music they play. If you compare that to theatre, where we're expected to congratulate an artist who aquires immense debt in an MFA program just to be groomed for the equivalent of an opportunity to play in Celine Dion's back up band (or worse, actually, at least Celine Dion didn't die hundreds of years ago).

I hate to say it, but it's begining to look like time for a war.

Matt said...

It is interesting that in every discussion on theatre, the statements that get the most exciting responses are ones that follow established "progressive" business strategies... Long-term planning with good vision, short-term goals and immediate implementation to meet those goals. And don't be afraid to take some risks or hire salespeople to get the tire-kickers to buy your shit.

If marketing companies only existed for the arts...

If you want a war, then treat it like one, and build a strategy to win. I liked the article, but where's the action and leadership? Perhaps the writers of articles should hop out of their happy salaried cubicles and purvey that which they promote.

Rex Winsome said...

I agree Matt, but i think that Marketing companies are obsolete and that artists are their own best marketing departments. Each and every one of us needs to work to get better at it.