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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I would rather be loathed for who I am. . .

. . . than loved for who I am not, goes the quote. I got that from Dr. Wayne Dyer, of all people, and while it may not be the most cheerful affirmation, it is a good reminder to me to conduct my life with as much integrity as I can. Integrity and passion.
Something that I am passionate about is the state of Denver-area theatre. Really, I'm passionate about theatre everywhere, and I spend a lot of time thinking about how to bring the live, dramatic experience to audiences whose view of theatre is tainted by a bad community theatre production of "The Odd Couple," so they'd rather just stay at home and see what's on cable.
Over the last few months, and again over the last day or so, I've been the lone voice on one side of a debate that has got a lot of people mad at me. It's not something I aspire toward, but I can live with it.
The difficulty is that I think that people are busier loathing me than listening to me, and, while I don't claim to have all the answers, I really do think I have something valid to say.
The debate is about whether or not there is too much theatre in Denver. My position is "whether." That is, the affirmative.
Now, I actually had someone say to me "I refuse to believe that there can ever be too much theatre." This is an idealistically beautiful idea, but not a very realistic one. This is like saying "there can never be too many butterflies." Okay, we'll now lock you in the hall closet with a million of them and see if your opinion is the same after twenty minutes.
Blind idealism is pretty difficult to debate.
Anyway, John Moore wrote an article about this issue over the summer, so I won't re-hash it here.
Here's the problem as I see it (all the names have been changed to protect the innocent; and the ignorant):
Myron loves theatre. He loves to act. He loves to direct. He loves to sing and dance. Unfortunately for Myron, he keeps losing out on all of the good roles to Kip. Is Kip just that much more talented than Myron? Myron doesn't think so. Myron thinks that Kip just gets the roles because his friend Heidi directs all the shows. Heidi also casts Muffy in all of the female leads because Muffy and Heidi were roommates in college. At least that's what Bertha thinks while she is getting fitted for her lantern bearer #3 costume. Bertha and Myron discuss it and decide to start their own theatre company. Oh, but they don't have any money.
Aha! thinks Myron. We shall become a 501c3!
Oh but a 501c3 must have a board.
"I will be on the board,"says Myron.
"So will I!" says Bertha.
"Me too!" says Dudley.
How did Dudley get in here and why is he carrying that lantern? Never mind, now there are enough for a board.
And thus, "Screw Heidi Theatre" is born!
"What shall be our first show?" says Bertha.
"We will present 'Euthanasia: The Musical'," says Myron.
"Hooray!" says Dudley.
"But didn't Heidi just direct that last season?" asks Bertha.
"We shall do it . . . better!" says Myron.
"Hooray!" says Dudley.
"I shall play Kevorkian," says Myron, "better than Kip ever did."
"I shall play Terri Schiavo," says Bertha, "better than Muffy ever did."
"Hooray!" says Dudley.
"I will also direct," says Myron, "because I'm just that good."
"Hooray!" says Dudley. Dudley. Put down the lantern already.
"We need a chorus," says Bertha.
"We will hold auditions!" says Myron.
"Hooray!" says Dudley. Seriously, Dudley, there's no lantern in this show.
So they hold auditions, and find a wonderful chorus of people who Heidi never cast because they weren't in her tennis club, so they say. Obie, Franco, Sharona, and Penelope are cast, and all of them join the board. "SHT" is really rolling now.
What a successful season they have! They follow their better version of "Euthanasia" with better versions of "The Preschool Dilemma", "Vishnuspell", and "I Don't Think That's My Meatball."
Ha! Take that Heidi, Muffy and Kip!
Meanwhile. . . Obie loves theatre. He loves to direct. But Myron directs everything himself. . . Come on, Dudley, let's get out of here.
Yes, okay. You can bring the lantern.

There is not a happy ending to this story.

Now, was Heidi really that "nepotistic"in her casting? Maybe she was, maybe she wasn't. Were Kip and Muffy really that overrated? Maybe. Maybe not.
And, yes, it's a slight oversimplification of things, but it still accurately reflects a philosophy that I think is problematic.

Reason #1 for too much theatre in Denver: People doing good (more or less) theatre for bad reasons.

I'll write about reason #2 later.

1 comment:

Kendall Scot said...

I have always been one of those “there-can-never-be-too-much-theatre” types. If I could afford it, I'd go see every show that comes out. However, in this economy, that's not possible. You have a very good point here as much as I hate to admit it.
Here is how I look at it from a patron's standpoint: I have limited resources to devote towards ticket purchases. I will then primarily spend money on shows I am pretty sure I will enjoy. I will also go see smaller community type shows when I can knowing full well going in that it may not be the best show out there. To me, It's a lot like going to Disney World... When I go to Disney World, I know going in that I'll be spending most of the day standing in line huddled with screaming, sweating, sugar fueled kids wondering if the line would move faster if I killed a few of them... That way, I'm not disappointed.

With "bad" theater, I go in thinking it’s going to suck, but hoping it does not. I am not disappointed going in... So I can enjoy the individual performances, or not...

You can look at it this way as well... There are far more really bad movies released each year and I've seen more than my share of them. That does not mean I'll stop going to movies to avoid the bad ones. I'll always go to movies!

The bad ones really make you appreciate the good ones that much more?

Great topic!!