Small Theatres, Big Thoughts
I am always grateful for a discussion about small theatres and alternative ways of working in our field (“Good Things, Small Packages,” Oct. ’19). But I would like to ask that as Theatre Communications Group continues to grow its commitment to justice and equity practices, AT magazine similarly commit to a more rigorous analysis of race, class, economies, and local contexts. I don’t think you can report on theatres in places like Detroit, San Francisco, New Brunswick, not to mention rural communities, without some consideration of histories—deep past and recent current—around displacement, local and regional migrations, shifting demographics, identity erasure, and issues of systemic funding inequities. Otherwise you present the story of theatres as a patchwork narrative rather than as a set of case studies that exist in ecosystems afloat in a complex, unjust marketplace amid conditions that, for the most part, were designed and are not accidental. Thank you for the small-theatre visibility. I’m asking you, I guess, to dig deeper. We need that.
Artistic director, Sojourn Theatre
While I very much appreciate this piece of writing (“Off-Off-Broadway: Freedom Isn’t Free,” Oct. ’19), from my perspective there is a much larger conversation to be had about the entire field and structures of theatremaking. This is not a field that is thriving. There are major cultural shifts underway, and the existing structures were never sound or grounded, so as the ground beneath shifts seismically, their flimsy construction is nearing collapse.
Artistic director, New York Theatre Workshop
The Off-Off-Broadway community is weird, it’s imperfect, it’s artist-driven and always taking risks. It’s where innovation happens out of vision and need. It’s the avant-garde before it’s watered down for the mainstream. It’s the R&D before commodification. I think of Penny Arcade saying we’re the privileged “control” element that neither succeeds nor fails, but remains where we are, independent, resisting co-optation. I wonder if we’ll find the way to keep growing beyond survival, but I’m sure this wondering is collective, community-wide. The fault is not in single artists or companies, but system wide, at a policy and economic and cultural level. It’s up to us to keep engaging and figuring out what it is we can do for each other to keep going and thrive.
Kyoung H. Park
Artistic director, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat
What’s ironic is I would absolutely pay twice as much money for an intimate show, because the experience as an audiencegoer is so much better. But for some reason intimate theatres never get away with high ticket prices. It’s a shame. They should. They are providing an experience that is so much richer than sitting in an audience of hundreds.
I always dreamed of being in American Theatre magazine, but I never thought it would be as part of an exploration of my hometown (“On the Banks of the Chattahoochee,” Oct. ’19). Lots of really close friends came together to make Chattahoochee Shakespeare Company a possibility, sitting on a back porch of a mill town house on a river. Unfortunately, we were a decade ahead of our time. It does my heart good to see a groundswell of activity in face of the odds against creating art in a small Southern town—indeed, in any American town. And thanks to Natalia Temesgen for nailing the story.
Artistic director, Majestic Repertory Theatre