Monday, March 03, 2008

Cookbook For a Better Theatrical Landscape - Recipes for Success

Don and I got to talking last night after rehearsal. Theater Blog stuff. And we need to get started on the active part, the evolution part of this hoped for moment toward change in the ways theater fits in with the American landscape. I suggested a cookbook model full of recipes for creating the kinds of changes in the theater making model that people are talking about.

A recipe is a consise description of ingredients and action. A recipe also address very specific issues rather than wide ranging rhetorical concerns. A recipe has a specific goal. Even if the recipe's outcome can be added to the buffet of various dishes, each one is individual and incremental.

So, while Don works on his Freedom Charter...I want to compile recipes.

What sort of recipes do you want to see? If you could get a one page print out of how to solve a problem regarding theatre in the American Landscape? What would it be?

Come on people! Tell me!


RLewis said...

I don't have a recipe, Bob, but this could be a cool thang. However, if I did have a recipe, I don't know if I would recommend it to anyone else. Every artist and every group is so different that I don't know if my recipe would be someone else's recipe. Some flour only rises for me. Some sauce only thickens for others.

I did want to say that I thought your call for 250 Words on another blog for real solutions was terrific. I didn't see any comment that really addressed your point though. It got more Obama rhetoric responses rather than Hillary solution responses, but maybe it's all just politics anyway. Maybe the only answers are the small steps we take every day - it's called Doing the Work.

I've enjoyed keeping track of what you're up to out there, and wish you the best with Clay Cont'. There's always things that we can do better, but just getting the job done and showing the work is my favorite recipe. If I can do more, I will, but that's hard enough.

I feel like I'm following your recipe, and it smells like you're really cooking up something special. Bon Appetite!

Nick Keenan said...

14 theater artists who also blog
10 bloggers who also do theater
all the hours in the day
A Wing and a Prayer
RSS Reader of your choice
A dash of comment section

Pour contents into blender and serve by frappeing without cover, chilled.

That's a recipe for how I feel right now, but that said I think this could be a wonderful thing.

One thing I've been thinking about is how stylistically different the Mammals and New Leaf are... So when we're talking about the same structural changes to the theater landscape and when we got to brass tacks in our earlier conversation on saving money through cheaper tech, it was a non-starter.

That aside, I really appreciate your simple calls for simple action, and I think recipe cards would totally be a better distribution format for ideas than blog entries. And maybe the recipes don't have to work... maybe they just need to spark.

I also think people need to give this change theater forever action maybe longer than a month to get rolling. We all have shows to promote, after all.

In all seriousness, I don't think I can offer a foolproof recipe, but I can summarize the recipe that our theater has that also seems to be working in fits and starts:

Artistic Director with massive theater education connections.

Managing Director who has performed in half our shows and also is a quicken and grant writing whiz

Lighting Designer who has designed 100 shows in Chicago, and knows where all the cheap equipment is hidden and when it's up for sale.

Sound Designer who has designed 80 shows in Chicago, has built a store of all the equipment we need, and has web application building experience.

A company that has worked for six years through trials, tribulations and experimentations to build a really sharp mission that doesn't straitjacket the company.

A carefully discerning company membership recruiting process that really weighs what a new member will do to the artistic equation.

An orbiting community of performers who support and promote the theater, built by making the working environment incredibly valuable (featuring and promoting their talents - and following their careers closely long after their time with us is over) and desirable (a process that is reenergizing) to a working actor / designer.

A cheap as dirt space out of which we've figured out how to squeeze every last ounce. of production value.

A play selection process based on something that matters to us.

1) Recognize Talent Early and Promote It
2) Create meaningful, inter-dependent networks with other artists
3) Innovate to save a shit-ton of money and squeeze value out of the almost nothing budget you operate off of.

Nick Keenan said...

And then there's this simpler recipe, set to music: