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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Breaking Through

I have received a number of e-mails, private messages, and even phone calls both in the midst and in the wake of the rather lengthy and at times heated exchange on John Moore's Running Lines blog. For those of you who missed it, it's under the "Vintage Theatre on Steroids" entry.
Let me just take a moment here to thank John and the Denver Post for allowing the discussion to go on for what amounted to several days on their site. Most of the involved parties agreed that it was a worthy and important discussion.
Anyway, I've been receiving a lot of support privately for my side of the argument. Some people have specifically requested to remain anonymous, while others I give their anonymity out of courtesy. If they had wanted to take a public stance, they would have. I haven't had time to respond to everyone, so let me just put out a general "thank you," and say that I don't blame any of you for wishing to remain anonymous. I have already experienced the political backlash of taking a seemingly unpopular position, and, while I can weather it, I certainly wouldn't wish it on any of you.
I would like to repeat one rather eloquent turn-of-phrase from my inbox, however, and I hope that, in doing so, I don't inadvertently reveal the author. I just really appreciated it.
"The Denver theatre community seems to be trying to build a beautiful palace, but on an unsteady foundation. Before we can lay one more brick, we need to take a twenty pound sledge hammer to break up the old foundation and start a new one. You may be just the sledge hammer we need."
I like it. For one, I get to add "sledge hammer" to my list of (repeatable) nicknames, and, for another, it shows that there are others who see the great potential of this theatre community but are not blind to some of the counter-productive practices that are going on and have been going on for a while.
I caution you, however, not to put too much faith in me alone. I'll keep at it, mind you (and I'm keeping the "sledge hammer" nickname), but you all can make a difference, too. This is your community as much as it is the community of the people who - for the moment - are the ones who seem to be calling all of the shots.
Now you don't all have to (as one person cleverly put it) "come out of the closet" and stand next to me in some kind of public solidarity. It got a little warm for a while - even for me.
However, you can exert your influence in more subtle ways. Show a little extra support for those companies that you think are "doing it right." I like the palace analogy, but that one requires that we break things.
Maybe we can think of our theatre community like a garden. Let's give lots of sunlight to the plants that we want and leave the plants that we don't want to wither away on their own. They will. They always do.
So, again, thanks for your support. Just make sure your support goes into filling those theatre seats as well.
Keep writing in, and don't be afraid to take a stand when you feel it's right.

Oh, and, yes, I do realize that a sledge hammer is a type of tool, but I don't care, I'm keeping the nickname.

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