Nov 18, 2009
commented on Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves
I live in Charlottesville, Virginia, so congratulations for making it that far, I suppose. But no congratulations for the tone in which this article was written. It's almost impossible to respond thoughtfully to what you say because of the pompous, presumptuous way in which you say it. No bullshit is one thing. Condescending and simplistic is another.
There are, however, good points hidden in here. I appreciate the attention paid to creating a more communal, participatory, anti-reverential style of theater. Where alcohol is concerned, well, sure, I like it as much as the next girl, but ideally, I would like theatre to stand on its own, to inspire conversation and community, even when the audience is, well, sober.
Yes, there are good points. There are also bad ones. Though I only wish to address one of those: No more Shakespeare (for five years, five months, whatever)? Really? The #1 idea you can think of to revitalize our "drowning" theaters is to outlaw the performance of one of the greatest writers for the stage that's ever lived?
Shakespeare is not the problem. Mediocre performances of Shakespeare are the problem. Sure, I've seen some shitty Shakespeare in my time, but I've also seen some shitty new work and some Shakespeare that will remain with me for the rest of my life. Don't tell us what to perform and what not to perform -- just encourage us to do it WELL. Original work, Shakespeare, classics, moderns, experimental performance art -- none of these is the problem OR the solution in itself. How it's done is what will make the difference. We, as theater artists, have a responsibility to be as critical of ourselves as I have been of this article -- as rigorous with ourselves as we can be. We must not limit the What of our work, but set the highest possible expectations for the How and the Why.
Thanks for reading, if you still are,
--Sara, from Charlottesville