Saturday, February 23, 2008

Good article over here about my essay—I'll respond to a couple of his points.


I don't think what I'm talking about is "entitlement"--I'm speaking about a fair wage, security and stability for the very best artists on stage in our country. The monologue delves into this more, but I believe that the current state of affairs is more damaging for theater as a whole than it even is for the actors in it—we're robbing our future, and bankrupting our chances of having a vibrant American theatrical tradition by not giving artists the stability they need.

Certainly there isn't going to be a future where everyone who gets on stage gets a pension, that theater becomes some kind of government subsidy—that's idiotic, insane and so far from the issue today that it's laughable. I'm saying that the very best people, the ones we as a culture and an art form should be supporting the work of, get treated extremely poorly by having to live a gypsy existence with no chance of integrating into any community--and its to all our detriment that things work this way. These artists could and should be the backbone of American theater, and we use them very poorly--it's within them that hope lies.

A lot of the article is interesting, and runs through a lot of familiar scenes from my life in garage theater, though it closes with this unfortunate sentiment:


This is classic: really, what we need most is for the artists to stop whining? Really? It's that much of a problem, the whining?

I saw this a lot in Seattle, on message boards, and from a number of other regional sources around the country: an intense disgust with the "whining" of artists. I believe it comes from a Puritan impulse--people who've been working under hard conditions in the trenches for years and years can become hardened. After all, they never make any money—why should anyone else? They haven't gotten to live in the city they wanted to and do theater--why should the next generation? Why should they have it easy?

The short answer is that we should be making things better for the future. I believe the largest missing element in the American theater is its treatment of the artists—if the actors had stability, they could be ensembles. If we had ensembles we could start winning back some of the losses of the past and forging a new tradition that is living and vibrant and based around humans, as opposed to a tradition based around real estate and subsidized buildings. We owe it to the future and to ourselves to make things better. That is the dream of progress.