For the benefit of us West Coasters just settling in to our computers this morning, here’s what the East Coast blogosphere has been talking about for the last few hours:
Todd Olson from American Stage Theatre Company in Tampa has challenged Mike Daisey (author of How Theatre Failed America, as well as many, many other monologues) to balance his theatre’s budget according to the principles Daisey has been fighting for.
How Theatre Failed America talks about how years of well-intentioned decisions have gradually led to a focus more on institutions than on the art they create. This letter, and Mike Daisey’s response, sums it up perfectly.
If you’re an actor, you might be particularly interested in seeing what Olson thinks of you:
Because of the blood, sweat and tears of my staff (again read, “not actors”) we have nearly doubled our subscriptions and our overall attendance has increased 42%, in large part from young and diverse audiences…. With apologies to AEA, when I read Mike’s scoff that, “It’s not such a bad time to start a career in the theater, provided you don’t want to actually make any theater”, I had an image of going to my development staff and asking them to take a mandatory ten minute break every 80 minutes? Maybe I could supply the Marketing Director with a little cot by his desk? No wait, I’ll tell our Education Director to stop working after she reaches the 34 hour mark else she gets paid overtime. But I digress…
And Daisey’s response:
This anti-artist bigotry is getting virulent—”not actors”? The increase of your subscriptions has *nothing* to do with your performers? Or the work in any way?…. It’s shocking that an artistic director would show the level of contempt you have for artists so openly. I will give you this: you are bracingly honest about your bigotry. Most mask this…. You’ve also taken that quote out of context, but I’ll make it simple: all three directors you mention above have stability, salaries, and health insurance. You consider them staff and you treat them with respect…. Based on the way you speak about actors and artists in this letter, you do not treat them with the same level of respect. In a few short paragraphs you have mocked them over and over for the few protections they have, you are derisive, and you don’t consider them part of your institution and family.
A long but must-read.