August 12, 2010

manifestos and new models for theatrical communities

Over at 2AMt * Travis Bedard linked to Mariah MacCarthy's Theatermaker's Theatergoing Manifesto. Let me make it short and simple: Read. That. Shit. Right. Now.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Welcome back.

You know what I like most about this list (besides the fact that I agree with almost every one of the items on it)? Because it puts a name and a face to the anonymous blob known as "the audience" and sets up a process for being accountable to the people we make theatre with and for. Several of the points the manifesto brings up touches on one of the most persistently frustrating aspects of making theatre: the insularity of the theatrical community.

Insular is perhaps the wrong word. But I often sense a very strong unspoken opposition to the idea of mutual cooperation and uplift. It's particularly puzzling for me because in a medium such as theatre, which depends so heavily on cooperation, there is a sort of - unwillingness? - to expand that cooperation beyond our own productions.

Part of what attracted me to WOW Cafe Theatre was this idea of a more collective model of making theatre. It simply makes more sense to me than constantly competing over scraps. Don't get me wrong, collectives come with their own idiosyncrasies. Nevertheless, I find it confusing and sad that we don't see more efforts similar to WOW happening here. I could understand if there was a shortage of talent or ability, but that's not the case. We can take four walls and create another world but we can't take an hour or two of our time to improve our own community. What does that say about us?

If you agree that our theatrical landscape is too White, too male, too upper middle class, what are you doing to fix that? This discussion happens all the time. It's like clockwork. Every couple of months, someone will go, "OMG! Where are the women? Where are the people of color? Why is everything by and about White guys?"

I'm not talking about Broadway. Fuck Broadway. I'm talking about us little guys, us rinky-dink no-name folks in our tiny little corners of Theatre World.

I don't have a full production at the moment (lack of funds and shit), but I've done readings, and sent out copies of my script (*clears throat at James Comtois*). People have given money - more than I expected - for which I'm grateful (and waiting to be made available so I can do a fundraising thingamabob in the near future).

What would help me right now? If people (besides me) would engage with my work. It'd be nice to start a conversation going about the work that goes beyond your typical film or theatre review. And I do try to put my money where my mouth is. I do go to see shows that have nothing to do with my own, which is my way of supporting other theatermakers.

What about you? What kind of support could you use right now? What kind of support can you offer?

* "Rainy Days and Glass Ceilings Always Get Me Down"


  1. thanks so much for sharing my rants and raves! :-)

  2. You're very welcome. Feel free to share mine as well. :D