Wow, thank you for the wonderful editorial and amazing pictures. All the best to you two! - Aiyana
WOW, good information.
I'm confused by the fact you called the young actor Ben a cipher what does this mean he was pho nominal.
Tomlin's magic is that she holds the audience in her palm from start to finish and leaves them exhilirated.
Having invested only a couple of decades in journalism myself (though not anywhere near the high-stakes level of the characters in Donald Margulies' play), I am very much in sympathy with JE's appreciations of the craft here. I truly meant no condescension to them.
I would have been less than candid, however, if I hadn't observed that jade is a definite occupational hazard -- and something of a protective measure -- in this trade. Any time in a newsroom quickly reveals that.
Journalists, with some regularity, do pay steep personal and interpersonal costs as a direct consequence of their commitment and ethics. Cutting-edge reportage can have a very high human price. It is one that is rarely reported on.
One of the most compelling -- and useful -- things TIME STANDS STILL does involves assessing the toll that reporting takes on the reporters. At some point I think most journalists face the dilemma disclosed here: constructing a psychological perimeter which gradually expands (and hardens) until it ultimately places even the closest of intimates and friends permanently on the other side of the camera or keyboard. It can happen gradually, without our noticing.
I hope you get to see the show, JE. It sounds like you'd appreciate it more than many.
Perhaps this isn't the main point of the review, but I'm put off by the condescending "these journalists are challenged to step out from behind the camera or keyboard and do something with their own lives beyond observing and reporting". To me, that "observing and reporting" are pretty damn important and courageous things to be doing with their own lives. In other words, I believe journalists, especially in war zones, are true heroes. They risk their lives, often for pretty poor pay, in an attempt to bring the TRUTH to those of us sitting at home in front of our computers or TVs. It's hard for me to think of many higher callings.
hi im mazerati hell i havent came out yet but when i do its on
I strongly agree with Mr. Johnson's contention that theatre has obligations that go beyond maximizing audience by any means necessary, obligations I would consider not only aesthetic but social and even spiritual. A wise colleague long ago corrected my use of "nonprofit" to "not-for-profit"; we aren't opposed to profits, that's just not what we're for.
I assumed from Byron's essay, however, that "marketing" and "advertising" are not synonymous. Market research and audience development, for example, are areas where pooling resources and sharing data might be a great help, and a regional organization like Byron's notional RITA (lovely!) or a project of the existing Triangle ArtWorks (or NCTC, or somebody) could really make a difference. I have long believed that theatre companies & arts institutions too often treat one another as competitors, when in fact our competition isn't other arts institutions: our competition is sports & Netflix.
When Raleigh Ensemble Players mounted *Hedwig & the Angry Inch* some years ago at Legends, I tracked down Glen after the performance so I could promise (hoping to be overheard) that I would buy a ticket for one out of every six additional performances they presented of that production for as long as they felt like it. I did, too, & would have happily attended for months. I'd buy a ticket for another performance of *Mr. Burns* RIGHT NOW. But open runs and extended runs require commitments of time and money that are hard to manage without lots of faith and lots of infrastructure--and making a big bet can lead to disaster, as it recently did for Chicago's Redmoon Theater (and possibly to at least one local company in the past).
What we know would be awesome and what we can actually accomplish might be very different--anyone who has lived through a tech week knows that. But this conversation is incredibly important to the long-term health of the arts; and if artists and administrators can approach it with the same open minds, creativity and generosity we try to bring to the stage, we can make a big difference for our institutions and our community.
As you know, Triangle ArtWorks (www.triangleartworks.org) has been working with the Triangle theatre community to try to build more...for the lack of a better phrase...community in this community. We started in 2014 with a survey of all theatres and an event where we convened representatives of theatres from across the region to discuss shared needs and concerns. Committees, led by members of the theatre community, were formed around several issues, including joint marketing, at the end of that Convening. As you mention, some progress has been made recently, but the committees ultimately fizzled and there is still a long way to go.
Recently, as you know, we brought the community committee together again and have planned several gatherings of the theatre community for 2016, with goals of networking, community building, education and more. I wish this work could have been mentioned in this piece, as we believe that bringing the community together is an important first step for building other programs or platforms, such as marketing. We are looking forward to working on these events.
Triangle ArtWorks, as the central platform for connecting and supporting the Triangle arts business community, stands ready to assist in this work. That's what we are here for. But the impetus and the leadership has to come from the theatre community itself.
For a couple of years I had worked for an arts and culture weekly wherein the publisher would frequently dedicate his column to chastising local business owners for not spending enough of their budget on advertising.
He wasn't necessarily wrong, but one must consider the source, and how it comes off. For a free weekly alt. paper, which survives off of an advertising-based business model, to publish a story saying, "theatres need to do more advertising," it can't help but sound self-serving. After all, while a theatre can survive without much in the way of advertising, the same can not be said for a free alt. weekly.
Often times small theatres will do shows with the assumption that they will not "sell out," and thus spend accordingly. If the Burning Coal wants to do only shows that turn large profits, then the recipe is pretty well known for most theatres: do family-friendly musicals with small casts and big names.
"Nunsense," "The Fantastiks," "Cabaret," "The Last Five Years" can all sell out pretty easily without a lot of advertising, and all have relatively small casts ("The Last Five Years," which was recently adapted into a movie, only has two actors). But theatre isn't run like a normal industry, where the only deciding factor is what will result in the highest amount of profits. Theatres decide on shows that tell the kinds of stories the artistic director wants to give the community - whether they make all of their money back or not.
I think your piece is very well written and I doubt you wrote this with the Indy Week's bottom line in mind - however, I think there is potentially a disconnect, as to what motivates a black box theatre, and what motivates a normal business.
A theatre can blow thousands of dollars promoting a show and still receive a fairly small audience for it. Or they could spend that money making a high quality show and hope that the small audience they get, turns around and tells their friends, or even comes to the show more than once during its run. I think many small theatres would rather prioritize the quality of their productions, and hope for word-of-mouth, than prioritize advertising, while hoping for a quality production.
I can definitely think of one I loved that isn't on Byron's list, though it was touring rather than locally produced:
Absolutely a great performance! A much needed and timely message that was executed by an extremely talented group. Loved it
Not that I am Byron's lawyer, but I see these works referred to as "great" and as his favorites. There's so much theatre & dance in the Triangle now that the Indy couldn't possibly cover it all.
In past years I have seen commenters jump in with their own favorites to fill in the gaps. Sadly I only saw one of these works (Seminar, which was excellent). My own favorite this year was Mr. Burns at MDT, with that company's typical passion & verve.
What else did people love?
Mychaelee, we do not refuse to attend and critique any theater groups. We see as much as humanly possible, and cover everything from the biggest professional theaters to the smallest community ones. So I'm really not sure what the subtext of your comment is. If there's a theater group you feel we have overlooked, I would be happy to learn more about it. You can reach me at email@example.com.
Thanks so much, Brian, for the opportunity to share a few of the 2015 book crop from the Carolinas. It's the tip of the iceberg, as usual! Looking forward to checking out your litfic coverage.
Although I agree these are great performances. How can you proclaim to make accurate assessments when you refuse to attend and critique some theater groups and their performances? Sort of makes your list a bit unrealistic or potentially inaccurate.
Your article raises very good points. I wonder if we might send copies to the leadership of all Triangle performing arts groups as a way to prompt action on the goal of cooperation and synergy.
Thanks for being the needed mirror. I hope it will be the match, if not the kindling, to start a forest fire of much needed conversation. While solutions and action are important, context and process provide an interesting destination. Bravo.
Devra - thank you for such an insightful, thoughtful and inspiring article!
Devra this article is incisive, progressive and accurate for the growth, not for just triangle theater but theater anywhere and, hopefully, everywhere.
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