artists in residence

“We don’t think of theater companies as teams of artists anymore. They are simply temporary homes for “hot” directors and “star” actors — and the shows they send to Broadway.”

From an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, (via

While the specific issue they address is about regional theater, I think the larger issue is universally relevant, even in NYC where we have so many theater companies. It’s like bioregionalism in agriculture and consumption or like supporting small businesses versus the chain stores. What effect does this have on art and artists?

Many years ago I took a performance studies class from a professor who was really into Jungian psychology. It was a great class, because he was such a powerful storyteller that you would find yourself nearly hypnotized. It is blurry now, but I remember one of the stories he told was about the arrival of TV in a tribal culture in a developing nation. The village had one television and they would gather around it to watch it. Eventually they just lost interest and wandered away. Someone asked them why they didn’t want to watch it anymore, saying, “Why doesn’t it interest you? It knows countless stories?” and the tribal leader answered, “Yes, but my storyteller knows me.”

In retrospect, I guess it is kind of a cheesy story. On the other hand, even cheesy stories can have truth in them. (“It’s true, even if it didn’t happen.”) There’s something inherently powerful about knowing your storyteller, knowing an artist, being a part of the world of the story. And there’s something we lose when stories and/or storytellers are just commodities.


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