“Theater Companies That Can’t Afford Theaters”

Last night I noted that all of the plays I wanted to see in July were being done by theater companies that don’t have spaces of their own and instead rent out theaters where they can do their work. Today, Theatreforte raises the point that those are pretty much the only two options out there.

One major failure of the non-profit system is that it only supports those institutions that follow a big corporate model. Thus, we are left with a system that supports two kinds of businesses: 1) a bunch of kids operating theatre companies as if they were garage bands, and 2) stodgy old monolithic institutions operating theatre companies as if they were libraries or museums.

I don’t think that necessarily HAS to be true, and in fact I would argue that Berkeley Rep and Magic Theatre are two companies that have their own spaces and do some pretty risky and phenomenal work. But I do think there’s a tendency among bigger theaters to get conservative to hold onto the subscriber base and to do A Christmas Carol year after year after year to cover all the administrative salaries. Which is why I tend toward the “garage band, two dollar beer, twelve dollar ticket” end of the theater spectrum.

Anyway, there’s a good discussion of all this going on between Theaterforte and Mike Daisey, who’s How Theater Failed America kicked it all off.