Thursday, April 09, 2009

Are Theaters and Audiences Asking the Same Questions?

In Acting class, Jack reminded us that the conversation between theater and its audience differs from place to place, city to city, region to region.  The questions asked in Portland, Or., differ from those being asked in Minneapolis, Chicago, NYC, Portland, ME., or even Seattle, just a bit to the north.  

I believe this is true--I can feel it--but I can't yet articulate the questions being asked in theaters, and the communities of which they're a part, in different regions of the United States today.   I know that Chicago theater gets its energy from a highly-charged, aggressive spirit found in Second City, Steppenwolff, and playwrights such as Mamet.   Perhaps NYC is best represented by The Manhattan Theatre Club and Roundabout, in a certain cerebral quality.  Theater people in Portland, Or., talk about 'new works,' but I haven't been involved enough with any new works in Portland to know (e.g., I've not had a chance to see or be involved with the JAW festival.)  So, I ask you--where ever you are--what is the conversation driving theater in your region? What are the essential questions driving an audience into the house?  Or, what questions are not being asked, so that audiences are either bored by theater being offered or don't know it's there?

For me, the most exciting aspect about potentially moving to Philadelphia, next fall, is that Philly theater seems to be engaged in an energetic, long-term conversation with its audience.

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