How Did Theatre Fail America?

9:27 AM / Posted by Ashley /

The American regional theatre movement is nearing disaster. Without an adequate sense of tradition or sense of social responsibility, it is in danger of becoming a movement whose only purpose is self-perpetuation. This idealistic movement begun some generations ago has been unable to achieve a living wage for its actors, a livelihood for its playwrights; it demands that its designers accept twelve to fifteen productions a year just to make ends meet, and forgoes its responsibility to train directors while permitting, under the heading of financial survival, the average income of its audiences to climb higher and higher, under this once bastion of social ideals and aesthetic concerns has become the plaything of the upper middle class and very wealthy. How did this happen?

-Richard Nelson

Saw Mike Daisey's "How Theater Failed America" last night at the Barrow Street Theatre. Brilliant. If I had seen it before its closing night, I would have probably been back several times. There was an excellent roundtable to follow the performance, which included Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director of the Public Theater), Richard Nelson, Jayne Houdyshell, Gregory Mosher, Aaron Landesman, John Eisner and Garrett Eisler. I definitely look forward to applying some of the issues and suggestions to reclaim the theatre, to COTE. Mike Daisey will be back in New York in the fall with a new monologue called "If You See Something, Say Something". I'll be there for sure.

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Comment by dennis baker on June 30, 2008 at 12:47 PM

Enjoying your blog. I was at the same performance wrote about it over on my blog, New York Acting & Theater Blog. Saw that you are an MA candidate for Performance Studies. I am an MA candidate over at Steinhardt for the Ed. Theater program.

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