FROM TC: I'm trying something different today. Below are the responses (thus far) to a provocative question posed two days ago by American Theater magazine on its Facebook page. Assuming you have a Facebook account, too, you can add your own answer on their page.
What would it take for theatre to claim its place at the center of our culture?
Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 11:53am
Matthew Freeman A TV deal?
Roy Allen touch the masses....
Bill Fraser The death of music, which is at the heart of our culture.
Steve 'Shapi' Shapiro Cheaper ticket prices
Laurie McCants De-centralize! A vibrant ensemble connected to its community in every community!
Dennis Kim-Prieto a worldwide electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) severe enough to permanently interrupt all electronic media.
Leanna Yip Hell to freeze over.
John DiDonna Work with the community in all ways - not just with it's own community. Reach out. Go out into the community. Make connections.
Katheryn Phillips Bilbo A national interest that provided as much salary, support, and promotion as professional sports does now.
Bernard Tarver a) People would have to understand theatre means more than just Broadway, b) There would need to be an appreciation for new playwrights and new approaches to presenting, and c) audiences would have to understand theatre's accessibility and how they can be personally involved in ways they can't with television or film.
Joan Lipkin Its not going to happen becau it has been eclipsed by other forms and I hav watched it happen in the 20 years of having a co. But it can hav a much stronger place. It means early theater education, much cheaper tix prices and easier avail a...nd drop in, more spaces, marketing to more and diff communities, savvier use of social media to not just promote but involve, more experimentation w forms and issues. And oh yea, more funding. Despite the many companies and shows that r around or up, in some ways theater is an endangered species and needs to be protected. Becaus its gifts r unparalleled
Katy Stafford Moore Quality.
Billy Butler make billions for the economy. wait.... it already does....
Gerhardus C. Van Wilgen Modesty?
Tim Collingwood a theatre in every community
George Brock The death of film/television/IT...unfortunately a two dimensional world that doesn't require engagement from it's audience is much more appealing to our culture.
Ellery Schaar not just the performance but a theatrical event, the theatre hosting the production needs to have an event surrounding the production. Involve the community as vendors for promotion, Music, full bar and something always unexpected. Coffee, wine and cheaps in a quite lobby is over!
Marilyn Morris Johnson I believe our audiences need more flexibility than ever before... in terms of times, offerings and ticketing options
Patrick Mullins For theatre to capitalize on what it is in essence - a conversation amongst a group of people who are actually in the same room. TV and Film can't replicate that.
Michael Coon Ironic question as I prep for an Intro to mass Communication class. In a very real sense, theatre is always at the center of our culture. What has changed is the presentation. We need to find a mode to connect with the same immediacy, or remember that what matters is the story and go back to that for success.
Scott Walters Decentralization, localization, a connection between the stage and the audience that is stronger than that between a consumer and a salesperson, a connection to the archetypal stories of life told in ways that are rooted in the specific place, and artists who don't think they are better than the rest of the world.
John DiDonna I disagree that Film/Theatre etc need to "die" before theatre can find a stronghold. They are all forms of the same thing - all of them are storytelling devices, all can reach a great audience, all can touch that same audience's mind/heart/...soul. TV and Film cannot replicate the immediacy of theatre, but they certainly have their strengths as well - no need to call for one or the other to dissapear for the other to have strength.
Kate Burnham-Hull First we must agree on a definition of "theatre"
Alexandra Conboy Performances that are relevant and exciting and challenge this current definition of theatre that defines it as something people think they don't or won't like.
William Yellowrobe We would have to resolve the issues of racism, sexism, homophobia and other fears and hate...now band aids, but actual actions the art form theater can bring when it is not a business...
David J. Glover Tsk! Tsk! American Theatre. Your question is leading; why do you assume that the place of theatre is "at the center of our culture?" Has theatre ever truly been at the center of any culture without being so at the bequest of religious practice or political acquiescence? What does it mean to be "at the center of a culture" anyway? Doesn't that suggest a hypothetical, normalized model of a culture with a centralized and commonly agreed upon set of core values and rules of behavior. In that model theatre can only ever serve to reify the status quo. Do you really want theatre to be at the "center" of the culture, or do you want theatre to be an external force with the power to promote change and depict inequalities and influence normatizing forces through story and metaphor?. You can't have both.
Flavia Florezell The reduction of prices, the anticipation of excellence, and the elimination of being able to sit on your couch and stare at a screen.
Lindsay Schmeling Media to cover live theatrical events as much as they cover hollywood.
Chris Cromwell I love theater and think it could mean more to a whole lot more people than it does now - theater provides something deeply moving, relevant and important to its audiences - but I'm not sure our culture has a center at all. Isn't that a beauty of such an enormous country populated by a breadth of immigrants? A lot of theater is bad - boring, irrelevant, self-important, repetitive - and I'd like to see all of that disappear. Every once and awhile, some piece of performance delivers something larger than the sum of its parts. I'd like to see more and more of this work made, paid-for, profitable. But there's such a dearth right now! I'm considering flying to NYC this weekend to see two shows because they promise to be something profoundly different than what I've seen before. Why can't I do that where I live? Practitioners: if you want theater to gain prominence and importance, hold yourselves to the highest standards and learn how to sell. If the product is excellent and people know it, the audiences will show up.
Nancy Sale No need for theatre to be at the center of anything...... Robert Louis Stevenson said it best : "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings!"
Cindy Pierre the end of tv and film. A reduction in prices, the breakdown of class barriers and an elevation in the intelligence of the masses and the desire to be challenged.
Tavia Gilbert Affordability. Focus on inspiring and invigorating audiences over production values that add expense but don't enhance content.
Robert Thompson Jr Gladiators in fights to the death.
Pam Munson Steadman It would take families and schools putting the same amount of time and effort into introducing the next generations to the arts...as they do with sports.
Jack Shaw Our acceptance of all technological media art as theatre.
Sonya Joseph Educating our kids...oh, well. Missed that boat.
Damian Torres-Botello The blending of entertainment and enlightenment in a stronger way...that is such a MEH answer but adding technology and multi-mediia is the wrong way because then it becomes theatre mirroring what is working. I feel we need to rediscover what makes theatre THEATRE and what makes it great and then use that more. ACK! This is a hard question...
Annette Breazeale Easy. The destruction of "the grid".
Adam Szymkowicz it should be made into a film
Daniel Hefko Change the spelling to cultheature.
Edward Crosby Wells A miracle.
Salmaan Peerzada Traveling theatre companies with content that is relevant to our time.
Jeanie Hall Universal Access.
Roger MacDonald No one thing should be at the center of any culture. @Joan early theater education, that's what we need to do. Professional theaters need to embrace and support theater in the schools; it's where your future audiences come from.
Armina LaManna Parents attending plays together with their children, instead of just bringing kids. Unless a child has the opportunity to discuss what she/he saw at the theatre and make the experience last, theatre will not become part of the American culture.