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Monday, June 15, 2009

Just Who Do I Think I Am, Anyway?

Okay, a few of you have e-mailed me your two cents' worth on the Henrys Quandary (and I will respect your anonymity as I assume you chose not to comment here for a reason) and, at this point, it seems that about 80% of you seem to agree that the Henrys are a bit more exclusive than they ought to be for wanting to be the Colorado equivalent of the Tony awards.
I would like to respond to the other 20%.
No, I was not nominated for a Henry this season, and it is plausible to conclude that my criticism is motivated by "sour grapes." Plausible, but not accurate. This season, I was in one, little semi-disaster of a show that I did as a favor and that I don't think I was very good in, and if that performance had garnered me a Henry nod, believe me, my criticism of the awards would have elevated to new heights.
No, I really don't begrudge any of the nominees their recognition. In fact, my affection for a number of the nominees is well-documented -- and not just in the margins on the restraining orders.
As to the assertion that I don't have much respect for the Denver theatre community, well, I'll call that one a foul ball: you got a piece of it, but it won't get you on base.
I have been less actively involved in the theatre scene of late because of other commitments, so I have been seeing things from few paces farther back. I see new theatre companies sprouting up to produce shows that have been recently produced elsewhere in the community. I don't know if it's about one-up-man-ship or if it's a response to not being allowed into the "cool kids club" or what, but it seems unproductive.
As a director, I'm a big fan of casting actors who I've been able to rely on before, but perhaps not to the point that I'm casting drastically against type just to work with my friends. I've seen some of that, too. I've also seen actors who were the right type get frustrated by this and go off to start their own theatre companies where they then engage in the same practice.
I see a lot verbal affection mixed with factional behavior.
I used to think that the large number of theatre companies in town was a testament to the talent and support of the theatre community, and I have written as much on this very blog. I now find myself wondering if it isn't more a sign of us not playing well together.
(And, believe me, I am fully aware of my reputation as someone who "does not play well with the other children," some of which isn't deserved, but some of which is.)
Do I have respect for the Denver theatre community? I do. It isn't unquestioning respect.
I have faith in the Colorado arts scene. It isn't blind faith.
What does any of this have to do with the Henrys? Not much, but since the question was raised (or the accusation was leveled), I wanted to respond to it.
On a personal note, I recently found myself at a crossroads. I found myself approaching the end of a chapter. All lines were converging on the same point. My lease and my schooling would be complete at the same time. Friends around the country were urging me to move to Boston, New York, Santa Fe, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Seattle, extolling the virtues of their respective arts communities. I went on the internet, started posting on message boards, finding artists in other cities: Baltimore, Atlanta, Austin, Raleigh, Nashville. I asked a lot of questions.
I saw dozens of reasons to move on to other areas, to seek out new scenes and new adventures.
Ultimately, however, I decided that this adventure wasn't over yet. In many ways it is just beginning. I believe in Denver, and I love the Denver arts community, warts and all. I've taken my lumps here, sure, but I believe that Denver is on the verge of an arts renaissance, and I want to be here for it.
So I'm sticking around. I'm going to do my part. Sometimes that means calling 'em like I see 'em.
Call it tough love.

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