“What have you done to save theatre today?”

Responding to a recent Theatre is Territory question about asking questions, Austin theatre artist and blogger Travis Bedard poses an essential one of his own, and states:

We want to do Our Thing and be done. We want to be specialists in a shrinking anachronistic craft. We don’t get the choice to not be evangelists.

A wise acting teacher of mine once charged us to do at least one thing a day to advance our careers. Well, I’m an artist in a struggling discipline, so to advance my career I also have to do at least one thing a day to bolster the theatre.

I’m glad I’m not the only one out there who thinks this. What have you done to save theatre today?


  1. What have I done to save theatre today? Well, I haven’t done the critically important thing that everyone needs to do to save theatre today. I haven’t seen any theatre today. The only way to save theatre is to see as much of it as possible. It will be good at times. It will be bad at times. On a few very special occasions, it will be life changing. But stepping out of the house and seeing a play is the vital element necessary to save theatre. And artists need to lead that torch. If we all saw as much theatre as we thought about, the theatre in this country would thrive beyond belief.

    I’ve also taken up the torch to write about and question cultural set ups that everyone takes for granted as established and irreplaceable. You can read my thoughts on that and other phiffle at http://www.artsyschmartsy.com.

  2. Oh God, damn straight Jonathan, well said. That’s a post in itself. I’m utterly dismayed how little theatre theatre people I know see. For us it should be an essential part of our weekly routine, or at the very least monthly, for the karmic element alone.

    If the artists aren’t going to theatre involving people they don’t know, how are they allowed to bitch about an unhealthy theatre? There’s as much value in seeing bad theatre for us as there is in seeing good theatre, maybe more.

    That does it. I’m going to a play tonight.

  3. For me, today – not much. But I work for a couple of arts companies and know that it’s easy to get comps if you need them, but I try to pay – maybe not to see “the big guys” but a See Seven pass ultimately helps – you can get subscriptions to some of the smaller theatre companies for under $100 – it’s all about support. And we can whine and complain about how much people need to support each other, but support is reaching into your pocket – going to the pay what you can’s if you can’t afford full priced tickets and turning down comps in favour of actually paying to see theatre.
    I’m not rich – not by any means – but the truth is if I can’t put my money where my mouth is I have no right to complain about people not supporting my work.

  4. One more thing – that’s not to say you shouldn’t support the “big guys” – it’s just to say that try to support people who don’t have the huge advertising budgets.

  5. I’ve worked on a NEA grant to create an organization to support, financially and educationally, the creation of theatres in small and rural communities under 100,000.

    And I offered support to my fellow bloggers.

    I would add another alternative to Jonathan’s “see more theatre” idea: see more non-theatre people and tell them, proudly and unapologetically, about theatre. We need more just folks in the audience!

  6. Awesome. And don’t worry Melissa, the theatre’s a real job, one of the realest. We all just have to find a way to make some real money at it, is all…

  7. Yup. As a stage manager, I find myself straddling worlds of being allowed to have an opinion on the work… and being able to afford one.

    Usually, it’s the work that pays well that makes me want to quit. Instead, I just buy steak and scotch for the younger, fresher, less-jaded artists so they don’t quit.

    And then they go make some juicy theatre for me to sink my teeth into.

  8. And there really is a battle out there against the jaded theatre artist, isn’t there? It seems epidemic, there’s ample evidence of it here on the theatrenets.

    Steak and scotch is a formidable weapon, and a good start to a payment plan…

  9. I made my “real job” work a lot more like a theatre job. I made my clients value my skills as a theatre maker. I told stories all day long and I connected my art to my clients and my clients to art.

    I did not apologize for producing plays, I celebrated it. I made sure that the play I made mattered to me, I made sure it was exciting, and I told people why it mattered and why they would be excited by it.

    I told them they shouldn’t miss it or other theatre that matters to me. I told them why it was worth making plans and paying for a full-price ticket. I made sure that the theatre they saw changed their life and the way they saw the world around them through further conversation.

  10. Thanks for reminding me about this post Nick, and for reminding me to answer the question myself.

  11. Theatre is the foundation of many greater platforms. Film is deteriorating rapidly because producers are born out of digital ideas and not the grooming of Theatre. A distinct problem in my city is that public funded theatres are being used for conferences and meetings. Save theatre by not allowing this.

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