I was having a conversation the other day with a theater artist friend of mine about being a playwright. We happened to be discussing Mike Daisey’s monologue, “How Theater Failed America,” which each of us had seen the previous week. Neither of us had attended on a night that included a talk-back, but I’d heard through the grapevine that the final one had gotten a bit… heated. Angry words were tossed around; the blame-game was played; and some of the panelists still sat up straight and said, NOT I.
Chris Jones’ review of the piece basically said, Chicago doesn’t have these problems because Chicago is awesome! While Chicago is certainly awesome in many respects, I would correct both Daisey and Jones and say that Chicago has DIFFERENT problems. It’s true – some of what Daisey says isn’t applicable to approximately 90% of the Chicago theater scene (80% of which is made up of companies who are not “buildinged” and are perpetually itinerant). But our problems, while they may not be the same ones that the vast majority of regional theaters are coping with (expensive new architectural development projects, the lack of innovation in programming “non-safe” material, the failure to build and maintain a community of local artists) – they are problems, nonetheless.