Saturday, April 25, 2009

Parabasis: Todd Olson's Response To Mike Daisey:

I'd like to see a real test / demonstration of Mike's artist/staff hybrid positions in action. I think they can work. In fact, I'd argue this idea is the single most exciting and transformative proposition to emerge out of the echo chamber of the theatrosphere as long as I've known it: That even on the regional theater level, there is an alternative to the compartmentalization and over-specialization that results in the body of the theatre organization not talking to the mind, not talking to the heart, not talking to the feet. Yes, I'm referring to the production, performance, artistic/literary, and marketing departments there. Even more body parts available to be had in this metaphor!

A group of us who work in both large regional and small independent theaters in Chicago (I know, Isaac, groan) have been playing with hybridization - retraining performers and designers in particular to apply their performance and aesthetic skills creatively to marketing, development, education programs. But I'm talking about intensive training. We're teaching ourselves graphic design, web development, we're sharing information, we're getting each other freelance jobs that feed each other's growth. Like all ideas that emerge from a renaissance, this is happening on some level in all theaters, especially those that are embracing things like internet / social media dialogue and finding traction with them. What feels different to me - and needs to be measured, therefore - is this idea that you can both be paid to perform and be paid to market yourself in a theatrical organization at the same time - as if they are the same activity (which of course, they have been since before morality plays). That you can't have either without the other.

We're doing this on a small scale - one of our most lucrative and innovative education programs has actually been corporate training (e.g. actors teaching facebook and social networking seminars to corporations via the ideas of connection, dialogue, and trust).

But that's a local solution, and as Mike says, there is no magic pill solution that works for every market. Because this needs to be a conversation the entire industry needs to have together - and it seems clear from this exchange that some of us need the debate and some of us need to see the results - is it possible / likely to have a single organization or several TRY this and, basically, publish? So that the experiment can spread?