I am now officially an adult. I know that was supposed to happen years ago…perhaps decades, but it is happening now.
I believe I started to realize this when I stopped trying to like music that I have been continuously told that I am supposed to like. It doesn’t hurt Pink Floyd’s feelings that I don’t like their music. Nor does it hurt the feelings of Steely Dan or Sting. I don’t like them. I don’t have to like them. You can like them, if you want.
I have also realized that my view of theatre has changed over the years. I spent many years thinking of myself as primarily an actor, then an actor/playwright, then an actor/playwright/designer, then actor/playwright/designer/educator. Because of my time spent with a theatre company that I love, I have started thinking of myself as a “Generalist” or (as we like to call it) A Full Spectrum Theatre Artist. Because we have tried to be a company that is self-aware, we have often discussed what theatre means to us. I have often thought of what it means to me.
Now that I have allowed myself to not like stuff because I am supposed to, here is how I currently feel about things…
A Personal Manifesto about Theatre, of sorts:
I believe in the worth of theatre as its own thing. I believe in its worth as art. And that is enough. I also believe in its worth in Education, Activism, and community building. Theatre is worthwhile for each of those aspects on their own. I don’t believe, however that we should have to continuously defend its worth. I am spending far too much of my fast fading youth defending theatre to people when I should be spending it actually making theatre.
I believe in supporting New Works. Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics. I love them more than most. We spend so much time on the classics, that audiences and artists alike forget that this is a living art. Though, the subjects of the past can often throw a new lens on subjects of today, we have so much to explore yet.
Think theatre is dead? Maybe you should go to a different theatre, because it’s very much alive. It’s alive and relevant. Maybe you didn’t see that because you were too busy watching Midsummer’s for the eighteenth time.
I believe in supporting New Voices. Voices, faces, dialects, languages, let’s see what they’re about… too
Write what you know…and what you don’t know. To be honest, I am about tired of realism. I am tired of plays about people sitting around a table at a Starbucks. You can write them, if you like. I have written them. Many or beautiful. But hey, since we have this theatre space here, how about we see what else we can do with it?
I believe in collaboration- Theatre students go into it thinking that theatre is all about acting, they often leave thinking it’s about acting and directing. I believe that theatre is about actors, designers, playwrights, directors,stage managers, and audiences. Yes, I believe that our audiences are collaborators. Should we pander? Probably not. But should we think about them when we’re creating? Yes, yes we should.
I believe that theatre is not just for the privileged- Nobody owns theatre. So, perhaps we should stop behaving like somebody does. Just like everything else, theatre is not an “even playing field”. We like to pretend it is. We even get outraged when it’s pointed out. So, why not work? Why not fight? Why not scream for an playing field until we actually have one?
I believe that theatre is not just for theatre people- Theatre people are incredibly clever people. I love them. I hug them often. BUT, if I need a PhD in theatre and performance studies to understand your play, then perhaps you’re thinking too hard. There are many reasons that theatre audiences are shrinking. One of them is that audiences think theatre people are pretensions….yeah well, yeah THAT.
I believe that children are our future– No, seriously. Let children see theatre. Let them create theatre. Don’t just let them, help them.