A Local Pipeline from the Fringe to the Big Houses

Comments

1
Hi friend

This:

"But they got booted from the Rep's PONCHO theater (its smallest stage) to an obscure rehearsal room that wasn't big enough to hold all 50 folks. Why'd it get booted? The people from Fences wanted to use the PONCHO for a rehearsal.

So a performance of a new play (a reading is a quasi-performance) got demoted from a stage to a rehearsal room so a rehearsal could move to a stage. See how that works? It's a small thing, but it's the kind of small thing that happens too often and indicates (and exacerbates) the bad blood between the big houses and the locals."

is kind of inaccurate.

These days (and past decade) the Poncho Forum is used as a rehearsal space for all shows that go up in the Bagley Wright. So while the Poncho is a performance space, during the rep's season it's really more of a rehearsal space. We do rent the space out to other theatre companies (mine included) and we produce workshops and reading in there from time to time. The rehearsal room you mention is meant for/was built for/is called the Leo K. Rehearsal Hall. It's shape and size is closer to the shape/size of the Leo Stage (I say is closer because it's actually smaller).

Point of trivia: Before the Leo Kreielsheimer theatre was built all Bagley shows were rehearsed at either the Center House (4th floor) or the "Mountaineers" space (down by Homewood Suites). The Poncho Forum was very much a second albeit smaller stage back then.
2
Once again, John Longenbaugh stands up defiantly and proudly for the 500-lb gorilla. He's nothing if not consistent.

Thanks, John. We're sure to make progress now, with you delivering iced tea to the entrenched in their trenches. Should be a nice comfortable battle for them.

Dead playwrights everywhere rejoice! John Longebaugh feels your ghostly pain and will protect you from the big bad living playwrights of Seattle.
3
Hello Paul:

Uhh...what? The board of NPA, not just me thank you very much, believes that Brendan mischaracterized Monday's reading, and as a group we composed this letter. Then they all signed off on it.

Paul, sometimes you're throwing punches at the right people. Sometimes you're throwing punches at the wrong people. Right now, you're just shadow-boxing.

4
The point here is that we likely would not have had such a great turnout (which we get nearly every month) if not for the strong sustained support of The Rep hosting the reading series. And, really, is the Leo K rehearsal hall a bad venue? We've had some fantastic readings in there. I know I have certainly played in worse and paid rent for the pleasure. "Getting bumped" is not the point. The Rep is paying facilities costs, front desk coverage, providing volunteers to direct people around the construction, and offering these readings a high profile. The only way that this can be sustainable is if we work around the Rep's schedule. It is a no-money proposition, this partnership, entered into by The Rep and NPA because of the shared understanding that the work is important. It is, and because we work together, it will continue.

More important, though, is the growing energy around building pipelines. There are many ways to do it, and I think that there is soon going to be great movement in this direction. Let's put our energy there.

There, NOW all five of your readers have responded.
5
I also want to note what a valuable resource the Seattle Rep and ACT have been in supporting local artists and new works. It costs huge dollars for them both to maintain their spaces and the support that the Rep has given to NPA in donated space and staff time, plus ACT in their Central Heating Lab program - these are exactly the types of partnerships that are the foundation for any type of "pipeline" along the lines of what Jim is proposing. If we want to get to the grander ideas, we need to start by first building positive relationships to get there. The amount of support that both these theatres have provided to playwrights and new works over the years is actually quite remarkable (from their partnerships with individual playwrights to new work festivals to Hedgebrook presentations and more). I have a huge long list of the number of new works I've experienced first hand as an artist and audience member at both these theatres. The Rep is currently offering a terrific opportunity for two Northwest playwrights coming up in June. So while of course I would love playwrights to prosper, I actually think The Rep and ACT are not the problem; they're two of the theatres that are helping to find some of the solutions.
6
Is it TWO Northwest playwrights that the Rep will be offering their residency? They never say so explicitly. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Transparency is not something any of the Big Houses cherish.

And I suppose that speaks to my larger point. There's a lot of talk of "partnership" but the partnerships are not even close to equal, as exemplified by the fact that if a playwright dares ask the question of why such a move in venue took place or complain that it did, said playwright is shouted down as a half-cocked "shadow puncher".

Fact is, I spend a lot of time in the trenches, as an actor and playwright with other actors and playwrights. And every single one of them that I mentioned this venue change too was demoralized by it. Anecdotal? Of course, but the Big Houses tend to dismiss all unhappiness as grumbing while holding up programs like this reading series as proof of their commitment to new works. So I guess one could say that they are NOT doing it out of the kindness of their hearts, but that in fact, they get something out of it. If they get something out of it, then it is not wrong to ask that they satisfy appropriate terms of respect in return.

Clarity and parity will be achieved when they finally admit in their own hearts, and not just play lip service to, the fact that they need playwrights just as much if not more than we need them.

We'll get there. I know we'll get there.