If you browse through our history at International Culture Lab you will understand why we are excited that Scott at Theatre Ideas has decided to put the rubber to the road in building an alternative national theatre model. For the last month or so he has been describing in some detail what is wrong with regional theatre in the United States but he is now ready to jump to the next phase.
It is fairly easy to describe what one is against, but much more of a challenge to describe what one is for. Nevertheless, it is a necessary step if the discussion is to progress beyond simply rehearsing the same kvetches that have been heard in bars and coffee shops for years.
We hope to join him and others as full collaborators in formulating and implementing this new model for regional theatres.
Surely it is a time of great optimism in this country. Just a few years ago it would have been difficult to fathom a woman and a black man as viable candidates for the next presidency. The election of either Barack or Hillary would go along way toward rebuilding America’s image in the eyes of the rest of the world. America is a country of vast diversity and its Mulligan stew experiment has always been at the core of its relatively brief history. In recent years instead of the usual celebration of that diversity, the politics of fear has gripped the national psyche and polarized the populace into red and blue states. The Us/Them of that division seems finally to be receding.
We need to follow the politicians’ lead of calling for change with a matching effort in the nation’s theatre and cultural landscape. We need to reject the model of scarity under which regional theatres now operate and instead embrace a model of abundance by linking together independent theatres presently operating around the country and allowing them to share resources.
For those in that great Rain City theatre town and connecting to this collaboration, make sure to attend Mike Daisey’s new show How Theater Failed America. Mike speaks truth to power, which is to say Mike doesn’t lie to himself or his audience as he lays bare the fragile nobility at the heart of his and pretty much all our lives in theatre. I saw the show in New York but to review his performance or critique its subject matter would do this unique storytelling an injustice. The truth he speaks is the foundation of this discussion about building a new model for theatre in this country.
For those of you who missed the show or won’t be able to see it in Seattle, here’s a short audio clip from the opening courtesy of “Seattle’s Only Newspaper.” He answers the question posed in his title in the first six minutes of the show.