in the local theatre news, on this message board and certainly elbowing out a lot of other considerations in my thinking on production [and others' thinking, certainly, there are others] is the critical notion of SPACE and where can we do what we do? i have not the slightest doubt that if companies, young and old, were to be granted "a room of one's own" their creative potential would flourish and thrive. indeed, when is space rental not
the lion's inordinate share of a budget, particularly for the younger companies? but the generally unprofitable nature of theatre being what it is, acquiring space [must less keeping
space] is an endless and uphill, nigh-sisyphusian struggle.
i would like, with this posting, to open up a discussion on how, as theatre artists, we approach the use of space, both in practicalities and creatively. Specifically of interest to me is how to think out of the black box. what about found/non-traditional space? what are the important legalities to consider when approaching warehouses, parking lots, farmhouses, rooftops? our dependence on the proscenium was challenged by margo jones, our devotion to the stage qua
playing space was exploded by richard schechner.. in 1968 peter brook famously declared that he could take any empty space and call it a stage. have we lived up to his extraordinary conception of the essential nature of theatre? or must we forever be dependent on the presence of comfy seats, a box office, a loading dock, a red velvet curtain and a strangling overhead? real estate isn't cheap and won't be getting cheaper anytime soon. but i must confess that i don't see a solution in the scolding rhetoric of those smug and patronizing grownups who demand artists be better businessmen. granted, as artists we must learn what is essential to self-sustaining livelihood, but never
at the expense of what makes us artists. corporate thinking makes corporate theatre. actors who think of themselves as economic commodities will be justly commodified. anyone who attended mike daisey's courageous polemic, how theatre failed america
, got a tremendous earful on this subject. when will theatre artists stop playing by the rules laid down by the institutions, by the profit-seekers, and begin to put their creative powers not solely into the work on the stage but the work that gets us to the stage?
i fear i may have overshot my mark here. but if something in the above generates discussion, whether in the practical realm or the theoretical is beside the point. it is all useful. they need not be mutually exclusive. i don't have any wish to draw lines in the sand or pick any destructive fights. for those for whom the system is working, good luck and god bless. it is for those who feel excluded by business-as-usual theatre administration i hope to engage.
two years ago i attended lincoln center's yearly directors' lab and the central thematic question was, "do theatre artists historically create change by conforming to existing institutional parameters or by challenging them?" a leading question with an obvious answer in our theories, less so in our actions.The Alfred Jarry Theatre is not a business; that goes without saying. But, that aside, it is an enterprise on which a certain number of individuals have staked everything.