We stand on a precipice. Millennia of theatrical traditions pave the winding road behind us, but the tools we have inherited seem inadequate, rusted and abused. How do we begin to cross the expanse of apathy and neglect yawning before us? How can live performance compete with television, film, and the internet? In an environment where it is a challenge to ask for more than 7.3 seconds of someone’s time, how can theatre ask for 7,000?
It can’t. Theatre cannot compete, and it should not ask for anything because it is simply not a commodity. Theatre is rooted deep in the race, a fundamental urge for communion that spans continents, centuries and cultures. Why is it viewed as a widget to be bought and sold? Why do many if not most theatres spend as much if not more time and energy worrying about ticket prices and subscriber bases than creating vital works of art or astonishing acts of entertainment and wonder? More and more seasons are planned in fear of offending or alienating the dwindling numbers that still shuffle into the mausoleums that line the streets of our fairer cities. They are triangulated and anemic acts of timidity that permeate and stifle every aspect of the work.
And they can have it.
Let them have their 60 dollar tickets and middle class lives dedicated to the perpetuation of the middle class lie. Let them feed themselves to the beast.
We will cross the chasm by making a bridge of ourselves. It’s all we have, which is more than can be said of some.