A New Critique of Thee-ater

Last week, Seattle’s alternative weekly, The Stranger, ran a piece by arts writer Brendan Kiley entitled, “Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves.” Here’s a recap of his list:

1) Enough with the goddamned Shakespeare already.
2) Tell us something we don’t know.
3) Produce dirty, fast, and often.
4) Get them young.
5) Offer child care.
6) Fight for real estate.
7) Build bars.
8) Boor’s night out.
9) Expect poverty.
10) Drop out of graduate school.

Like Mike Daisey’s piece, “Empty Spaces or How Theatre Failed America” (also published in The Stranger, and later developed into a monologue performance), this one will certainly be a stick stirring up the mud at the bottom of the pond. The Stranger has already logged 103 comments—many of them lengthy, passionate and obviously written by theater makers.

Read it (it's short), think about it and come back to discuss. But don’t get all wigged out. Nine out of ten items on the list may be ridiculous, but which ideas have merit or are worth talking about? I'll weigh in with more opinion once I have the time to think about it some more.
While you’re catching up on theater news, be sure to read Marty Hughley’s story on Third Rail Rep from today’s Oregonian:

With a cohesive, collaborative spirit, a sharply honed aesthetic and lots of hard work, Third Rail Rep has quickly become one of Portland's most critically acclaimed theater companies. Yet another hit is the darkly hilarious "Dead Funny," and a move to a nicer, larger downtown digs, solidifies the case for its elite ranking.
Kudos (and good luck) to the fine folks at Third Rail. It’s nice to see a model that is working well. I'm looking forward to seeing "Dead Funny" next week.

3 comments:

Allison Harris said...

Get them young? That seems painfully obvious. Artists have been trying to do that for decades. It's a fundamental step of good business management. If Mr. Kiley believes that current measures to attract younger theatergoers aren't working, he probably ought to propose some plan that isn't going to involve eventual lawsuits (child care) or completely giving up on the art istself (building bars).

MightyToyCannon said...

Thanks for contributing Allie! As for me, I'm partial to the "building bars" idea -- at least the part that says make going to the theater like a party, and treat the audience like guests. I'm all for unstuffing the stuffiness of the performing arts, though I also think there is value to making theater-going an event worthy of dressing up for. Oh wait, I live in Portland so never mind that.

Allison Harris said...

I'm probably just bitter because a certain hotel that I used to frequent dismantled its comfortable and extensive library/sitting room to make room for a bar. Sad day.