• Commissioners

    This is all well and good, but as with all of the think pieces I see these days calling for revolution–in this case, a revolution of the mind–I’m left wondering, what is the goal of the revolution? This a call for local engagement, artistic boundary dissolution, and the end of party politics, ideas that have floated around for years and years. But to what end?

    What kind of society are you calling for? Locally based economies, equity and inclusion centered…what? Communes? What exactly to you want to come to fruition?

    I ask as lately I see the left throw up their hands and say our republic is irredeemable, so we need some thinly defined socialist revolution which the majority do not and will never want.

    If these ideas which have been around since the 60s have never worked, why are we still entertaining them? Because everybody feels good in the commune?

    Meanwhile, I suspect the GOP will have much success in the November elections as more and more leftists retreat into unworkable magical thinking or misguided revolutionary LARPing.

    Should we not try to craft some platform and cultivate some candidates that can appeal to the majority of Americans who are moderates? Because the majority are moderates. They don’t want some equity-based top down socialist engineering project and they aren’t quite convinced that the world’s most diverse democratic republic is irredeemably evil.

    What is our art offering them besides acrimonious condemnation or weak sauce revolutionary sentiment? There are real stakes here if we could reach the mass of people who aren’t white supremacists OR socialist would-be revolutionaries.

    The people, the actual people are waiting for something sensible. Is this what we offer them? Guilt and pipe dreams?

    • David Dudley

      Commissioners: Thanks for the thoughtful response.

      I don’t know if we are calling for a specific kind of society. There is no grand ism behind my article – at least not one that I’m pushing. I simply traveled to these places, spoke with these artists, and reported what I saw and heard.

      And yet, while I know that many of these ideas have been around for a long time (most go back much further than Schumann, van Itallie and Klein), I’m not so sure we have fully embraced them, let alone put them into practice, which leaves room for us to hope that they may yield fruit.

      The troubling thing, to me, is that there is far too much attention being paid to the economy, and not enough to the people. I’m aware that those responsible for building and maintaining the economy purport to do so for the greater good, for the people.

      But if we look at the big bank bailouts, to name just one example, I think it’s safe to say that we have lost sight of our collective mission: to give the greatest number of people the best possible conditions for living productive, peaceful lives.

      This is where theatre comes in. Whether a company is politicized or not, it is a little attempt at society. Through their everyday operations, companies (itinerant or otherwise) put into practice their values and beliefs. It just so happens that the three subjects of this article live on little farms in the Northeast.

      Again, I’m not saying, Go, develop theatre-based communes on little farms. But I am fascinated by the microcosms that occur in these settings, and I have seen more cooperation and caring in these settings than anywhere else I’ve visited. It’s possible to see whether or not horizontal, consensus, direct-democratic social structures work in practice. (From my observations, sometimes the answer is yes, other times, no.)

      If you’re interested, read E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. That’s the revolution that needs to occur: the one that places the well-being of communities and society over individuals.

  • WonderZimms

    I think the best outcomes come on the local level. Forget trying to influence the national dialogue: you may wind up there, you may not. But focusing on community, personal connection and local politics often pays the most dividends.

    There’s a gulf between Washington, DC and the rest of the country. I know because I live here. We feel boxed out from our government. Now, imagine how helpless people who don’t follow daily politics must feel.

    I’ve had the most luck in showing audiences how these big policies affect the individual. Sure, look at the macro, but focus on the micro. The macro is just too amorphous.

  • emsnewswordpresscom

    I can’t believe what I read here! You, a ‘teacher,’ go into a public eating place and your friend has obscene words on her chest…have you no shame, sir! What on earth is this? How dare she go about the public, in this obscene display. You and your friend are exactly why Trump won the election: people think you guys are disgusting.

    Has it occurred to you both how rude you are? Are you proud of being rude and crude and ugly? Do you realize that most of the people howling about Trump are equally rude, crude and nasty? Can you figure out what this means? I await your revelations! A good look in a mirror, for starters, should be attempted but I fear the mirror might shatter.

    I see you don’t let things appear before publishing it which explains why there are so few comments at this site. NEVER FEAR! I am using this site as an example of how evil, stupid, foul and nasty the anti-Trump ‘academic teachers’ really are. I hope all of you are fired eventually, all you are doing is destroying civilization.

    • WonderZimms

      Oh, the ironies abound.
      -Fatal misunderstanding of the first amendment while exercising your own first amendment rights? Check.
      -Complaining about “rude” attitudes while displaying a “rude” attitude? Check.
      -Displaying a “my way or the highway” mindset aimed at people who are displaying the exact opposite? Check.

      Of course, no one who has read your comment history should be surprised. You still harp on Mr. Obama’s birth certificate. You write “We all evolve over time, the dangers force evolution, anyone who thinks that things remain static are people who live in the past and not looking to future important dangers,” which sounds great, except you don’t practice what you preach. Oh, and lest we forget, you’re a regular at InfoWars, so you definitely can’t be trusted to say anything of substance.

      Don’t worry, though. I’m sure Dudley is quaking in his boots at the thought of you showing this to your home school class of two.

    • David Dudley

      emsnews: Thanks for your comment. It’s not often that someone embodies the problems recorded in my articles so successfully.

      The situation I described – like your comments – break my heart because they lack in perceptive, nuanced, and civilized dialogue. I wanted very much to speak with those who had a problem with the language on my partner’s shirt, but they were more interested in shouting and making threats than sitting with us and learning that we are no threat to their safety.

      Indeed, it’s almost as though they were afraid that we might even have some things in common.

  • Laurie McCants

    I deeply love all these artists– I greatly admire their artistry and their tenacity, and I’ve witnessed their work for years. But I have the same question regarding their work as I have regarding my own work as an ensemble theatre-maker. Do we really make a difference? Are we just playing to audiences who are already on our side? My theatre is now in its 40th season of presenting plays for our small town and surrounding rural region. We are not as overtly political as Double Edge, Jean Claude van-Itallie, or Bread and Puppet, and our audiences are perhaps more diverse on the economic spectrum as theirs, but we do state our vision as this: “Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble makes Theatre: a patient and powerful agent for community cultural engagement, regional economic vitality, and progress towards inclusion, dignity, and creativity.” Have we achieved our vision? Is the place where we live and work what we wish it to be? I don’t know. I don’t know. I have my doubts, especially when I read in our local newspaper about white supremacist flyers found on doorsteps and telephone poles in a nearby town. But then again, our recent production of The Diary of Anne Frank sold out, and we packed hundreds of students in for our morning school shows, all of which were followed by terrific post-show conversations about then and there, here and now. But I highly doubt any of the white supremacists who are our neighbors came to our show. And if they did, would their hearts and minds have been changed? I don’t know. I don’t know.

    • David Dudley

      Laurie: Many thanks for your post, and questions. I think we are all asking those same questions of ourselves, our collaborators, and our communities. While we can make concrete steps towards our ideals on a daily basis, I don’t know if such questions can ever be answered definitively – but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So long as we don’t have the answers, we should keep asking the questions, hold ourselves to higher standards, and strive to be positive influences to those with whom we share time and space.

      About changing the way certain groups think, I don’t know if that’s our responsibility, or whether it’s even possible. To be sure, there are people who spread hatred from both sides of political lines. Of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to stage performances that illustrate the problems plaguing our communities. If we make that our goal – to call it like we see it – that’s the most we can do, as that’s all we can really control. Bear witness. Offer up your perspective(s). Take time to articulate your vision. If we do that, reasonable people will respond in kind. Some may change their way of thinking, and the way they move through the world. But unless they share their stories with us, we never know.