Friday, February 08, 2008

Alive and Easy to Find

I got an email this morning from a college student who is directing my play Food For Fish as one of his school projects. Because I'm alive and easy to locate online, he can ask me questions about the play and tell me about his production. Because I am poor, I can't actually go see it but that doesn't make me any less happy that it's happening. Earlier this morning I posted a comment on Jason's blog in response to something Mr. Walters said: I don't know about other playwrights but I also want my work to get seen. I want my words to be heard and my characters to breathe in many different bodies. I didn't get in this to have my play on a big stage. I got in it because I was an actor on a small stage and I fell in love with theater. And I wanted to make theater and I wanted my plays to be done all over the country on tiny stages. But eventually I figured out that the only way to get it to the tiny stages was to first get it on the big stages. I wish that weren't the way it is, but that's how it is. (Not to say anything bad about big stages because I bet it's pretty fucking great to have a show on a big stage.) In any case, what I'm saying is one theater is not enough. One town is not enough. Do I want a home? Yes, very much. But that home should introduce my work into the world, not keep the world from seeing it. You can see the discussion here to understand the context and what Scott is proposing in order to give playwrights homes. This student wouldn't be doing my play now if it weren't published. It wouldn't be published if it hadn't gotten a pretty great production in New York. And I'm sure the good review from the Times didn't hurt either. And after this student production, there will be another in North Dakota soon after. I am thrilled that my play will be a part of the early careers of these kids. And I am thrilled that it will be a part of their lives at this point, even if they don't all go on to be theater professionals, I am honored to play a part from afar. I mean, I'm sure Edward Albee would do in a pinch, but I'm glad it's me instead.

6 comments:

Qui Nguyen said...

Good post, man. I concur in every way.

Joshua said...

I have to say, and buddha knows I have clashed with Scott Walters on a number of things so perhaps I have long ago lost my sense of objectivity when it comes to him . . .

But I have to say that I find it highly ironic that Scott goes on about the greatness of Mike Daisy's article re HOW THEATRE FAILED AMERICA . . . the thesis of that article is that actors, writers, creatives are all cut out of making liveable money in theatre as a career but careers in arts adminstration and the number of well paid administrators has grown exponentially . . . Scott goes on about how right this is, yet he's proposing a model of theatre for himself as head administrator, isn't it the height of irony?

But maybe I just cannot see past my own bias, I don't know.

Adam said...

Well, I don't think that is what he's proposing. I think he's proposing something more democratic. But yes, it's sometimes hard to get by the way he's proposing it which is perhaps more dogmatic.

Scott Walters said...

Thank you, Adam. You are correct -- a tribe, by definition (and I have provided the definition via Daniel Quinn) is a non-hierarchical collective. It only sounds like I'm the kingpin because I'm the one doing the talking at the moment.

As far as dogmatism is concerned, my goal is to create a sharp, clear definition in order to avoid having the ideas blurred and appropriated by the current paradigm. There isn't much point in creating a new way of doing things if it is just the old way with a few little differences. I know that the risk is that I sound dogmatic, and I think I go out of my way to say that it is cool if this particular way doesn't work for you and the current paradigm is working for you. But I don't think it is being dogmatic to say that, if that is the case, you should keep doing it that way and not get tangled up with people who see a different path.

As much as I would like, if I were forming my theatrical tribe, to have a high-quality playwright like you as a resident dramatist, there is no reason that you would find that option attractive, and that's cool. But to dump on the paradigm because you like things the way they are -- well, that seems sort of self-centered to me. There are people for whom the present system is not working so well, and trying to figure out an approach that can allow them to use their creativity more fully doesn't seem to me to be inherently evil or dogmatic.

Adam said...

Scott, For the record, I'm not dumping on your idea, nor would I ever suggest that anything is evil.

I'm interested to see how it will work and I wish you the best of luck. I think community based theater is a good idea.

Personally I think you can do your model and work within the current model at the same time. That is all I was trying to say.

Also it's worth noting that for most playwrights, the ideal is to work with more than one theater. And that helping them do so is the best way to go both for your company and for theater as a whole.

Adam said...

Also, I think most everyone can agree that the current model is not really working the way any of us would like. That's why so many great playwrights have gone to tv or film.