Mike Daisey’s How Theater Failed America

Mike Daisey’s How Theater Failed America was playing at Joe’s Pub in New York City and I thought I was going to miss it as it was closing during my recent trip to Los Angeles. Good news, it will be transfered to off-broadway’s Barrow Street Theatre. I pulled the summary of the show from the website which says master storyteller Mike Daisey sinks his razor-sharp wit into a subject he knows well: the American theater, from the sublimely crass to the genuinely ugly. From gorgeous new theaters standing empty as cathedrals, to successful working actors traveling like migrant farmhands, to an arts culture unwilling to speak or listen to its own nation, Daisey takes stock of the dystopian state of theater in America: a shrinking world with smaller audiences every year. Fearlessly implicating himself and the system he works within, Daisey seeks answers to essential and dangerous questions about the art we’re making, the legacy we leave the future, and who it is we believe we’re speaking to. There is some great audio I would recommend: First Scene of How Theater Failed America and Interview with Leonard Jacobs.

Even better news is that Sundays will hold talk backs with various guests. Each Sunday, a roundtable forum with theater artists and administrators will follow the performance. Slated guest include: Eric Bogosian (Talk Radio), Robert Brustein (Founder of Yale Repertory Theatre and American Repertory Theatre), James Bundy (Dean, Yale School of Drama), Jim Nicola (Artistic Director, New York Theatre Workshop), Richard Nelson (Conversations in Tusculum), Lisa Kron (2.5 Minute Ride, Well), Maria Dizzia (Eurydice), Gideon Lester (Artistic Director, American Repertory Theatre), Maria Goyanes (Producer, 13P), Paige Evans (Lincoln Center) and others in direct conversation with working actors, technicians, designers and independent producers of the American theater. The audience is invited to stay for the roundtable forums that will immediately follow Sunday evening performances. I am most interested in when Dr. Scott Walters will be attending on June 15th. He has raised many interesting ideas over at his blog Theater Ideas. I have blogged about some of his Tribal Theater ideas.

What I appreciate about Dr. Walters and his blog is that it has brought me into the larger theatrosphere, a play on the term blogosphere referring to a community of passionate bloggers writing in length about the many aspects of theater. At times it is quite overwhelming and also exciting at the same time. I feel like I have found the equivalent of the the groups of kids I want to hang out with on the playground. I am eager to get to know them, but I feel like I do not have anything original to share. I feel I am still in the stage of learning the group dynamics and personalities and where I can fit into the conversation.

There are many sites that I have discovered that I enjoy. I usually start with Theatre Forte as it is a good directory of theater blogs. I first heard of them as they linked to my blog in the NYC section. I keep some of the following blogs in my iGoogle tab for easy access: Que j’ai reve (Paul Rekk), The Clyde Fitch Report (Leonard Jacobs), The Wicked Stage (Rob Kendt), An Angry White Guy in Chicago (Don Hall), On Theatre and Politics (Matthew Freeman), Rat Sass, Praxis Theatre.

I have to also mention a great online community Theatre Tribe at Ning started by Dr. Walters. He recently blogged that he feels the theatrophere conversation has become contentious and polarized. He wants to move beyond scrapping with bloggers whether the theater tribe idea will work. He believes it will work and seems like he wants to discuss the details of how it will work. It is a conversation I am very much interested in being a part of, even though at my present life stage am not able to put into action. I do have experience working with a start up theater company and love to explore the idea of decentralizing theater and bringing more artists out of the NYLACHI (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago) area.

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    4 thoughts on “Mike Daisey’s How Theater Failed America

    1. Erin G.

      YAY! As you already know, Mike Daisey’s latest piece resonates for me and I am hoping to catch it live here in NYC. Thanks for blogging about it — the more people who know, the better.

    2. dennisbaker

      I’m glad you are excited about it Erin! Maybe we can meet up and go together. Love to chat about it with you and hear all your thoughts. Sign up for the Ning site if you haven’t. There are great discussions going on there.

    3. Pingback: How Theater Failed America Roundtable | Dennis Baker New York Actor

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