I often feel alone.
My life experiences and the demands of my day-to-day are so specific to my life producing and performing in small budget theatre that it often feels that outside of rehearsal I can go for days without running into (a non-wife) someone who truly understands what I’m going through on a gut level. I’ve worked with car dealers, lawyers, engineers and scientists and they’re all tolerant and interested in my other-work stories but they don’t have analogous struggles.
That changed for me in 2006. While sitting in an empty office waiting for rehearsal to being I performed a Google brand internet search for theatre blogs to add to the burgeoning collection of blogs I had plugged into Google Reader. I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me before but the search was fruitful enough. It turned up Scott Walters, Isaac Butler, Tony Adams, Garret Eisler, Adam Szymkowicz, Tom Loughlin, Don Hall, Adam Huttler, Rob Weinert-Kendt, Adam Thurman, Bob Fisher, Devon Smith, Aaron Anderson, Andrew Taylor, Matt Freeman, Matt Trumbull, George Hunka, Lois Dawson, J. Holtham, Qui Nguyen, James Comtois, Alison Croggon, TravSD, Shawn Harris, Kate Foy, Marisela Orta… just… they’re not folks you know necessarily but they were writing passionately both for themselves and to each other. They were talking about the theatre that I recognized in a way I would talk about it.
The fire that these folks brought the the table in discussing topics as large as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and My Name is Rachel Corrie or the Todd London book Outrageous Fortune was amazing. Outrageous Fortune’s time in the theatre blogosphere of course overlapped with the rise of Twitter usage and carried over into the height of the conversation that spawned the #2amt hashtag and this site. I felt like I had a back office. I felt that my three person theatre company was one small node in a massive network of nodes large and small all fighting to tell stories.
That height of the conversation is what Scott outlined in his post on Creating a New National Conversation over at Creative Insubordination. He does a bang up job of highlighting a white-hot online moment, the Rocco Landesman #supplydemand debate. It was a really fun week. My post on it is here. it was electric to have that large a group honestly and passionately talking through a single issue. Talking, listening and writing. But moments like that are unsustainable.
Having that network of activated thinkers is necessary for the growth of the field.
The nodes of that network being as diverse as possible in every parameter is necessary for the growth of the field.
- A robust conversation, as we so blithely call it:
- Keeps the lines of the network alive so folks can find it.
- Keeps institutional knowledge alive and FLOWING.
- Allows for smaller sub-networks to form and break and reform as artists find their forms and their people and then new forms and new people.
- Exposes the field quickly to ideas, innovations and issues.
- Shines light in under-resourced corners
- Levels the playing field for non-institutional voices.
But it also means not feeling alone. You’re not the only one tired of fundraising. Or drinking bad coffee at the day job after you were up late painting the floor last night. Or stuck on the third rewrite of Act 2.