As promised, this week's paper brings a report from the basement-theater in the Seattle Center House, where a bunch of theater folks (writers, actors, bureaucrats, at least one self-confessed board member, others) from theaters large and small (at least five people from Intiman, plus Annex, Theater Schmeater, ACT, the Rep, etc.) gathered earlier this week to groan about the state of theater and "the new American play."

A few highlights:

An NEA study revealed that the number of American adults who attended a (nonmusical) play in a 12-month period shrank from 13.5% (25 million) in 1992 to 9.4% (21 million) in 2008.

... once the TDF dignitaries had finished their parade of misery, the fireworks began. One prominent Seattle artistic director (attributions by name weren't allowed) told the room that his theater didn't produce more new works because there "aren't enough good plays" (burn on Seattle playwrights!), but then threw the room a sop, saying theaters needed to invest more "in our own backyard."

A local playwright shot back, asking the AD to put up or shut up: "The only time I hear from artistic directors in town is to tell me how much they adore my plays—you're either being dishonest with me in telling me you like my plays or you're being dishonest right now in saying there aren't enough good plays." Fidgeting happened.

And another scrap I didn't include in my story, but local playwright Louis Broome wrote about on his blog:

Discovering and developing talent, finding jewels in the pig sty, these are what most LORT theaters don't know how to do. This is what galls me about Paul the Board Member's comments: if he knew anything about theater history, show business or producing, he'd know that the trick is development, discovery, collaboration, not Budget X - Season Y = Theater.

[A prominent artistic director] said he would "support local playwrights... if they'll let me." I asked, "Who are 'they'?" He said, "Find me after and I'll tell you."

I didn't find him. I know the answer. "They" are the board, people like Paul the Board Member, who think business is business. Show business isn't business-as-usual. Not-for-profit theaters drop like flies all the time because their boards kill them.

Read this week's theater section—the "Fucked" article, plus a review of hallucinatory, Magritte-ish dance by Salt Horse and this week's Burlesque Box here.