As I think about my next phase in life the idea of what theater means in todays society has always been in the back of my thoughts. Acting and professional regional theater is changing drastically and is being left behind by the generation of “get it when you want it” media. This means theater must change, but how will that change look? This question is one reason why I applied for the M.A. in Theater Education program at NYU Steinhardt. To my surprise their is a community that is asking these questions and it is called Theater Tribe.
Created by Dr. Scott Walters Theatre Tribe is interested in exploring a New Way of creating theater in America. Walters teaches play analysis, theatre history, directing, and Theatre of the Oppressed / community-based theater at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Through his blog Theatre Ideas he began to write his thoughts about Decentralization, Localization, Sustainability, Business Model, Artist and Community, and Education. Many of these ideas run deep to me as I have had these type of local community conversations back in Los Angeles.
As many people began to comment the Theatre Tribe community was born. I am new and have not read up on all the articles at Theater Tribe and Walters’ blog, but feel compelled to start in the conversation. Most professional and educational theater I have read about or experienced is not born out of the community it is involved in. Community is something that is deeply rooted in me and something as an artist I have not been able to interact well with in my present state of life. As it stands now a “professional” actor must live in New York or Los Angeles and might have a community there, but then leaves for a couple of months to get paid to create art at a regional theater and then goes back to their home. The same actor will work with many different people, but rarely will call any of those people his/her core community. How things currently work an artist is not allowed, for the most part, to work and live in the same community for a prolonged period of time.
This is the current situation I feel that I am in. I left a personal and professional community in Los Angeles to study for my MFA at Rutgers. There they created theater divorced from the voice of the community. When dismissed from the program I was dismissed from the only community I had at the time. Now except for two or three close friends I am an artist without a home. A home that fuels the passion and creativity the artist needs to create work that speaks for the community. A community that is made up with artists but not only that. Other people who love the arts but do not call it their profession. Ones who can bring in life that can me shared and stories to be told. If all this intrigues you I would recommend joining in the conversation. A conversation around the book “Beyond Civilization” by Daniel Quinn will be starting up soon. So let’s talk.
Theatre Ideas: Dr. Scott Walters’ Blog
Theatre Tribe: Resource Page
Theatre Tribe: Community Page