June 18, 2012

June 5, 2012

How do we create a more accountable indie theatre community?

I recently went to a Community Dish meeting that focused on the role of playwrights in indie theatre then read a very touching Facebook post by Daniel Talbott (of Rising Phoenix Rep). Both of these experiences hit on something that we often hint at but never address directly: accountability in the indie theatre community.

I've said it before, but I consider making theatre to be a form of community organizing. In community organizing, one of the main principles is accountability. How do we hold ourselves accountable to the people who give us so much? How do we make sure that we are truly a force for good in our communities? How does our work arise from the needs and aspirations of our communities instead of being imposed upon them? How does creating theatre reflect the mutual interdependence between artist and community? How can we frame accountability in the indie theatre community in a way that expands our capacity to think bigger and do better?

I believe we have to begin by thinking beyond individual productions, seasons, and companies. When I visit the websites for indie theatre companies and projects, I learn a lot about art and artists, but I rarely see anything mentioning the community. It's hard to be accountable to the community when you don't talk about the community. And for an art form like theatre, which is so dependent upon the communities we live and work and play in, this is a glaring omission. How can we hold ourselves accountable to a community when we do not define what that community is?

So, talk to me: Who is your community? What binds you together?