Saturday, March 08, 2008

Enter the Boosters, Bearing Theaters - New York Times:

Others have been asking that question too, wondering if the regional theater movement, which began in the late 1940s, has lost sight of its founding mission. As described by the monologist Mike Daisey in a recent article for the alternative Seattle newspaper The Stranger (and in a new piece called “How Theater Failed America” to be performed at Joe’s Pub in New York next month), that mission was “to house repertory companies of artists, giving them job security, an honorable wage and health insurance.”

“In return,” he continued, “the theaters would receive the continuity of their work year after year — the building blocks of community.”

For Mr. Daisey that dream is dead. “When regional theaters need artists today, they outsource,” he wrote. “They ship the actors, designers and directors in from New York and slam them together to make the show.”

And it’s true that the building boom, particularly among the aging lions of the regional movement, is partly about creating whiz-bang “destination” theaters that will attract national talent. (Also, younger audiences.) But the companies say they are doing this to enhance or recapture their mission, not discard it.

3:03 PM