FROM THE MAILBAG:
A question for you. Slanted; yes.
Your postings talk about getting more artists involved in the administration of theatres. Would you also argue for getting more administrators involved in the creation of theatre? You suggest that actors should run the marketing, development, finance functions of theatres.... would you also suggest that the PR guy, fundraiser, and accountant should be actors?
I guess what I'm trying to get at is whether you think that arts administration is a learned skill, and whether you think acting is a learned skill. If one is, but the other isn't, what is the difference between the two? Is accounting an innate skill?
This will be quick, as I have to go onstage.
I would argue that in a better world, there would be much less division between administrator and artist in the theater. I have talked about the need for theaters that integrate artists into all areas of their management, because it is the "professionalization" of the theater that has stripped it of its vitality and created generations of theater workers who are cut off from the other disciplines.
The theater needs people who make a lifetime commitment to the theater, and it needs to find ways to honor that commitment. It's a paradigm shift from the current caste system--some people who are comfortable in the current mode will not be as comfortable in a changed world. There will be less room for professional theater managers...unless those managers are workers who delve into every part of the theater. There is less room for artists who only create work in a vacuum--they will need to understand how to write press releases, balance budgets, and get asses in the seats.
I don't have any answers to what acting is, nor am I particularly interested in the question. I am interested in a vital future for the theater that is supported by people dedicated to the theater itself, and less the building...to a theater built around the idea of a living event. To that end I think you need more institutions fueled and filled with artists of every stripe who work in areas we don't traditionally think of as creative in order to make the entire theater a more living enterprise.
And with that, I have to head onstage.