Mike Daisey’s Final Roundtable: Ideology vs. Experience | New York Acting & Theater Blog:
Out of all the highly experienced panel members I was drawn most to the ideas of Oskar Eustis, the Artistic Director of the Public Theater. One idea mentioned was the fact that the American theater should go the way of the American public libraries. Free for all. As talked about all over the theater scene the budget to run the American theaters is a drop in the hat of the national budget. I appreciated that he made sure to say that this was not going to get any artists rich, but that it would be a healthy alternative to the capitalistic view that is running the current non-profit theater system.
Naturally he used the example of the Delacorte theater in Central Park. The current play Hamlet recieved bad reviews from the New York Times, but is still “selling out” shows because of the very fact the tickets are free and the production value is of quality. He presented to the Public’s board the idea of having free tickets for the shows in the downtown space. The board could not imagine such a thing. Which brought Eustis to the crux of his point. That ideology will always trump experience. Experience says that when tickets are free people will come to the Public’s productions, but the ideology says that theater can not be run on this model as it has to make money and there are no other options but to sell tickets. Eustis said the national ideology surrounding how theater is run in America must change. He has hope because the current administration in the big institutional theaters will soon be gone and the next generation can “take them over” and issue reform.