Theatre News - Criticism: February 2008 Archives
About a month ago, Orange County Register blogger Paul Hodgins wrote a post about his conversations with various theater professionals around the Los Angeles area.
His findings are no real surprise:
Those who bemoan the state of American theater should consider this sobering fact: even for its most successful playwrights and directors, it's a world without money or security.
Of course, Hodgins bases what he says on the anecdotal evidence he sees around Orange County and L.A.
Which makes me wonder: Is it better, or worse, in smaller cities around the country? My gut tells me worse; there's certainly no-one in my town of Missoula making a living as a freelance theater professional. In fact, even here -- more than 1,000 miles from Los Angeles -- the only folks I know making a living by writing scripts or acting do pretty much all their business in Hollywood.
But I also know that life in Missoula is a lot less expensive than in L.A. (just ask the scads of transplants who come here every year to get away from the big city, pushing up local housing prices....Not that I'm BITTER or anything...grrrr).
And as a journalist, I had an eye-opening conversation with a senior Chicago Tribune reporter a year ago in which it became clear that my standard of living here is actually no worse and in some ways infinitely better than his.
Journalists aren't theatricals, of course. But I do wonder, can people make a decent living acting, directing, and/or writing plays outside the major metro hubs in America?
Yesterday afternoon, I saw a production of Miss Evers' Boys.
It was one of those plays that gives you a lot to think about afterward. One of the things that most struck me was this: While the play portrayed Miss Evers in a highly sympathetic manner and helped me to understand why should would make the choices that she made, it didn't change my feeling that her choices were wrong.
In many ways, this was the beauty of the play. It provided all the shadings of gray to help us see beyond the easy outrage that gives people easy deniability ("I would never do such a thing!"). However, even while offering an explanation, it didn't try to justify. Yes, there were lots of shades of gray, but using people as guinea pigs and denying them access to the penicillin that would cure them is still wrong.