I have been following @lostnotebook‘s twitter stream from the TCG conference and am so glad I’m not there. I would probably be dragged out, foaming at the mouth in a frothing rage after being continuously subjected to the endless arts manager circle jerk blaming everything on somebody or something else. the endless confusion and consternation over why audiences are dwindling and blah blah blah blah blah because its always somebody else’s fault and only if we were better at marketing or fundraising or this or that. Yeah that’s right, its always the audience or the funders or the government or even the artists….
But you know what? If you’re ever sitting at a poker table and you look around and don’t know who the sucker is? It’s probably you. Back when I was a spoken word artist I used to do a piece where I said, “And if you sometimes feel as if all you’re ever having is bad sex or the same sex over and over and over again, remember that what makes all the sex you’ve ever had exactly the same is that you are always there.” All I’m saying, Mainstream Theater Establishment, is that maybe the problem is YOU !?!?
Its your MFA programs churning out ActorTronic Meat Puppets and Sitcom Writers, your Arts Admin programs churning out status quo bureaucrats. Its your stultifying fear of possibly offending anybody or, god forbid, actually having something happen, live onstage, that is unexpected, challenging, frightening, delightful or surprising. Never before have so many worked so hard to achieve so little.
Am I overstating the case? Yes, of course. I know I’m exaggerating and tarring many good people with one broad brush. But really people, come on! Get out of your box and get into the actual real world. Accept some responsibility for your own irrelevance! Quit pretending like you actually enjoy that third rate rehashed “concept” staging of Moliere that nobody actually thinks is funny. Try to remember what it felt like to actually be alive!
Do you really want to exist as no more than a luxurious distraction for the middlebrow and mediocre? Or do you want to aim higher and risk failure? Now is the time for vision! Now is the time for hope! Now is the time to grab history by the balls and squeeze hard. These are such momentous times – don’t you want to be a part of it? Or do you want to sit on the sidelines and watch it go by?
I have written a hastily assembled and deeply flawed three part manifesto that you can download here. (yeah, its the big three I posted before). But I offer it to you as a starting point, a spark for discussion, a provocation and incitement to rebellion. Indifference is not an option, nor is hiding your head in the sand. Big change is required, with big vision, to completely reimagine the whole darned thing. Dare to not suck! CAST OFF YOUR SHACKLES AND RISE TO THE OCCASION!! DREAM! DARE! HOPE! FLY! SOAR!
The gauntlet is thrown. What are you going to do about it?