Theater For The Future

The Art in the Business of Theater – Collaboration Tools and Technology and the Storefront Theater Movement
Subscribe

Archive for the ‘Community Building’

Fuel needs Oxygen, and Oxygen needs Fuel

December 07, 2009 By: Nick Keenan Category: Chicago Theater, Community Building

UPDATE:
Rebecca Zellar of @GreyZeldahas thrown up the Summit on Twitter
Bob Fisher aka the @devilvethas offered to host a small roundtable on how to produce in non-traditional spaces on 1/17 (details coming soon on his blog).
A number of other roundtables are in the works on the topics mentioned in the topics listed below (Jenn Adams [@halcyonjenn] and @MargoGrayare putting together a discussion of women in storefront theatre), and we’re looking for volunteers, facilitators and participants via Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere to help us put together more.
Tony Adams (@Halcyontony) has set up a public Google calendar (ICAL / XML) which you can use to stay on top of ALL the storefront summit breakout meetings. We’ll of course also be setting up Facebook events so that you can bring folks who will thank you for bringing them.

I think my favorite part of the Storefront Theatre Summit this evening was when Don Hall came up to me at the end and suggested that the way to make the conversation really heat up for next time would be: (drum roll)

… to form sub-committees.

Okay, I’m paraphrasing him a bit. But the nice thing was: these small project-based follow up meetings that he, our resident uncle devil’s advocate, suggested … were part of our plan from the beginning.



Generating meaningful conversation in the storefront community is a tall order. In the room tonight we had 25-year-old companies, 10-year-old companies, and 1-year-old companies. We had folks who were looking for help with board development, folks who were looking for collaborators, companies looking for better relationships with venues, companies looking for ways of being a better venue, organizations who were looking to get their services into the use of companies that need them, and folks who didn’t belong to companies at all yet.

So tonight was about discovering more detail of the lay of the land. We started with a simple round of introductions – Who we are, what we’re working on, what we need help on. Then we took a second pass to really focus in on the core of what community collaboration was about – what skills are we missing in our organizations, and what knowledge could we offer each other to make up the difference. This set off a dozen or so mini-conversations about a wide range of subjects, and after New Colony Board member Matt Hoff (our designated note taker for the evening) is done posting the conversation to the facebook page, I think a lot more connections and partnerships are in the works.

I’m believing more and more in this simple recipe for fueling productive collaborative conversation about complex subjects: 1 part comfortable and frank face-to-face meeting, 1 part online follow-up. Too much of either and you don’t get the right kind of explosive force.

The face-to-face isn’t – and can’t be – about accomplishing something in the room & banging it out, but it is about forming real connections, identifying common challenges efficiently, and establishing as much trust, context, and basis for comparison between parties as possible. We’re humans: we need the faces, voices, beer, music, and sense of being in the same boat before we dump that boat in the river that we all need to cross.

Once you have that trust, too much face time will wear the conversation out and create too much pressure for immediate progress. You need convenience, energy, research, and time to develop the ideas. We do that on our own schedules, in our own pockets of opportunity. But as we all have found, starting online doesn’t get things done even faster. You can’t generate alignment, trust, and real group clarity from a conversation in a blog’s comments.

The face to face meeting generates the partnership and the alignment. The online follow-up generates the progress.

I’m looking forward to seeing these companies found themselves, develop strong boards, put on crazy large festivals (I counted four at the table, including the up-and-coming national and international Chicago Fringe Festival), develop unique and richer ways to engage their audience through a blog, learn to raise $5k in a single event, display collective legal force to gain more productive rights agreements with licensing companies, and put up shows with great production values in non-tradtional spaces with zero, nada, zilch budget. These are things we asked for help on from each other – and these are things that folks on this room could help with – if not by a direct hookup, than by tried-and-true plan of action developed from years of experience.

It was an inspiring group of people to speak with.

There was something I needed to hear tonight, and it came from BackStage Artistic Director Matthew Reeder, whose main stated concern was finding methods of preventing burnout. And I realized: that’s what I’m doing this month. I’m not working on shows for the most part, I’m not really running around trying to catch meetings. I feel like a lazy ass. But as a person with adult onset workaholism, finding ways to stay lazy means giving myself an action to play, or I get self-destructive.

Matt, ever the great director, gave me in his plea for help the action I need to play, which is: I am spending this month preventing my own burnout. And self-imposed vacation has suddenly never felt so fun.

I think a lot of the attendees had these little moments of clarity tonight. And so I hope you join us to discuss your goals, skills, and needs online (and format refinements for future summit meetings) and participate in our next regular meeting or one of our subject-oriented smaller meetings, which we’ll be announcing via the Facebook page.

SAVE THE DATE
Chicago Storefront Summit III
Sunday January 31st – Evening
Location TBA

Buy Me a Coffee?

Chicago Storefront Theatre Summit II

November 16, 2009 By: Nick Keenan Category: Chicago Theater, Collaboration, Community Building

Chicago Storefront Theatre SummitYup, it’s here. Or, more accurately, it’s on facebook.

After going through notes for the first storefront theatre summit, we’ve just launched a couple tools to try this whole “let’s all coordinate and meet” thing on for size. If you missed the first summit, December 6th at 7:00 pm at the Dank Haus in Lincoln Square is the next one (feel free to invite other theatre companies – one or two representatives from each theatre company would be ideal), and we hope you’ll share your thoughts.

Why facebook? Because we all use it. Why build something new when we can just build off what we already have?

A couple resources on there that are worth a look:

1) Regular Meetings as coordinated by Facebook Events. One of the biggest pieces of feedback generated by the first summit was that there is a desire for regular meetings among the storefront community – if nothing else, just to see what each other is working on. They’ll likely be set on a monthly or bi-monthly basis at this second meeting, and then will be reminded by a Facebook Event.

2) Notes. Whit Nelson has compiled notes and thoughts from the first summit, and a discussion board has been set up to take a community crack at some challenging questions. This is the online arm of the discussion – the face to face will also help us more quickly work through and build trust and alliance, but the discussion boards is where vast amounts of research and experience can be compiled – and read by folks new to town. Do those resources exist elsewhere? Absolutely. But this is where they can be digested for a young storefront theatre to more quickly align themselves with existing support infrastructures, such as the DCA, the League of Chicago Theatres, Chicago Artists Resource, and other storefronts.

There’s still a lot of ‘getting to know you’ work to be done here – while the blogging community pretty much understands where each other are coming from, there’s a dozen or so disconnected companies that we could hear more from. These questions (‘what are your best resources?’, ‘what are your biggest challenges’) are designed to help pry open the procedures and identities of all these theatres so that conversation can be fruitful for all.

3) Friends and Fans. These are the folks, folks. We need to know who each other are for this conversation to be really productive. Oh look, someone built that for us. Theatres who participate will be ‘fanned’ by the storefront summit page, and individuals will be on there as well. People to meet, Theatre to see.

See you December 6th!

Buy Me a Coffee?

A Challenge: Chicago-Theater-A-Day

September 20, 2009 By: Nick Keenan Category: Chicago Theater, Collaboration, Community Building

So perhaps you haven’t heard yet:

The TCG National Conference is coming to Chicago in 269 days (as of this post).

At the recent host committee planning session at the League of Chicago Theatres for Chicago’s contribution to the festivities (many many cool events, opportunities, and ideas are in the works for all sizes of theaters, and we’ll need your help putting them together) someone made a pretty simple observation: 269 is approximately the number of active theaters in Chicago.

So someone else threw out the idea: What if we created a youtube channel, and featured a video of a Chicago Theater each day until the conference? 3-5 minutes, something that gets at the heart of what makes each individual theater unique. Like the World Theater Day Tumblr feed, those videos then become a living document of all kinds of information and voices in the Chicago scene. As the TCG Conference makes plans to arrive in Chicago, they’re also getting a really accurate cross-section of the full breadth of Chicago Theater – yes, the Goodmans and Steppenwolfs, but also the Timelines, the Griffins, the WNEPs, the Steeps, the Ruckuses and the Factories. Take this video from the Neo-Futurists, which sums up nicely the energy contained in their shows:

So I put it to you Chicago: Can we make this happen? Can your theater put together a low-investment, quick and dirty feature video that perhaps communicates the content of your work, or the communities that you serve – the heart of what makes your theater exciting and unique? Maybe this video is something you can put together quickly, maybe it’s a clip of something you’ve already made, maybe it’s a 5-miniute flip cam video (I promise you: you know someone who has one. We’ve got three.)

Here’s what I see as the potential benefits of this project:

  • Create More, Think Less.
    Translating the energy of live performance or the way we put live performances together to the video format takes a certain amount of creativity. It’s super-easy to not do it well, and like anything, it takes practice, and takes a strong conceptual impulse to do right. As someone whose theater has gotten a lot of mileage out of a low-cost trailer video, I can tell you it’s a good skill to develop if you want to have an audience, no matter what kind of marketing budget you have. It doesn’t need to be polished – though it can be if that’s your identity – it needs to simply communicate who you are and what you do and what it’s like to be there.
  • It’s an effective visual census
    I have this nagging doubt that one of our biggest challenges as a theater community in Chicago (though the problem is shared by other theater communities) is that each theater, especially small theaters, has a delusion of uniqueness. Yes, of course we are unique – we’re different collectives of artists, with different resources and interests – but we are often off the mark when we try to pin down and communicate WHY we are unique. It’s clear to me after the past few years that data alone isn’t enough to convince us of this. Of the seventeen-or-so new companies out there this year, even in a post-Rob Kozlowski/CTDB world – I’m still seeing a predictable amount of repetition of purpose, mission, positioning, and communications. (Don’t feel bad if I singled you out here – you’re so very not alone. But… fix it.) There is a lot of “we are going to change the entire world. Through theater.” But as we all learned in our first acting class: Show Us instead of Telling Us. Putting our faces and our work out there in a public, shareable format lets us collect and really see ourselves and what we are really capable of creating in a greater context, and releases us from the temptation of hiding behind shiny words. It lets us learn by comparison, while also showing the country the true diversity of what we have here.
  • It equalizes the playing field while Chicago Theater itself has a platform
    One of the dangers facing the theater industry is that the financial structures that currently have a ton of money and influence aren’t necessarily the models that will survive in the future. The climate is changing fast for the arts: The dinosaurs may die out, and the rats and cockroaches may have an evolutionary advantage. Even if that idea is dismaying to you, you gotta deal with it to survive. By showcasing all of chicago theater’s various models and approaches in an equalizing format (everyone can get to youtube, but not everyone can fit into the Side Project), we get much closer to a real theater lab environment – we can see what is truly exciting, even if it doesn’t currently have the marketing power to push itself into the forefront of the conference.

Contact me via email or via twitter with your video, or if you need help. Spread the word, and let’s help each other get real, rich exposure to every theater company in town. And stay tuned as we put this together – I think the results will be exciting and eye-opening.

This post brought to you by Ian Martin of Atomic Fez Independant Publishing, who bought me a bottomless cup of coffee at a delightful brunch this morning. My hands are still vibrating with excitement and caffeine.

Buy Me a Coffee?

The Big List

September 03, 2009 By: Nick Keenan Category: Chicago Theater, Community Building

An exciting announcement from the League of Chicago Theatres today:

In Jan. 2010, the Chicago Theatre community gets a city-wide patron database.

Boom. Right? There’s the necessary checks and balances to retain patron privacy and list autonomy. But even League member theaters who have *not* been tracking data will now be able to use this pre-built and pre-calibrated system as part of their League membership. As someone who both knows how to build a versatile database but still finds his company using a big obnoxious excel spreadsheet for this task, I say yay.

Theoretically, the big list would allow for the tracking of deep patron data – such as city-wide theatergoing habits of individual patrons. This would be a massive first step for small storefront theaters who are trying to gather real, actionable marketing data.

On a large scale, it’s also conceivable that this kind of data gathering could really shed light on exactly how big the Chicago theater-going audience is – and how big it needs to be to support operating companies.

I found some interesting thoughts on the TRG website, as well that comes from data culled from other cities that have tried this system – such as this finding that rented mailing lists and a season subscription campaign don’t exactly lead to success – specifically, rented lists can usually only scrounge up a 0.4% subscription rate. Huh. I knew it didn’t work, but I didn’t realize it was equivalent to setting all those season brochures on fire in a hobo oil drum.

Way to go, League. You’ve earned this:

(h/t ZeFrank)

Buy Me a Coffee?

Rewriting Ourselves

August 24, 2009 By: Nick Keenan Category: Chicago Theater, Collaboration, Community Building, In a Perfect World, On the Theatrosphere, Teachable Moments

One of the things that became clear at our New Leaf Brunch Launch this week was that, while our friends and audience clearly love the approach of a season question (yay, score!), it wasn’t yet clear to them exactly how New Leaf chooses each question, each year.

The answer: For us, the season question is always the question of everything. Now.

Last year was a year of new beginnings for us. “How do we build a future from a present we didn’t expect?” New Leaf was finding itself switching gears into a new kind of work, a new kind of intensity. In our personal lives, our company members were finding that the allure of career – even a part-time, low-income career, but One That Was Calling To Us – was becoming increasingly more attractive with age, somehow more necessary than a life of stability in service to ideas that we didn’t quite believe in.

So we left those jobs, and that safety net. We leapt into the freelance sector. We connected with our creative calling, and found ways of making that work necessary, and lucrative. We shopped around for non-group health insurance, and although it hurt, we paid for it, because it meant freedom and a new kind of security.

In our artistic work, we explored death, and we confronted ourselves with the inevitability of our own deaths. We explored the cost of a life left unlived, and we interrogated ourselves and identified the aspects of our unlived lives that would become regrets given the chance. We discovered the hard-won value of a path chosen instead of defaulted into, and we forced ourselves to choose our own path, and we forced ourselves to blaze that trail into a wilderness that was… Calling to Us.

And so here we are. A tribe, together, in some pretty rough and unexplored terrain. We’re a theater company that is small with a big reach. We’re creative workers with less regular (and less soul-sucking) employment who have the tools to build a lifestyle, but we need to get to work sowing opportunities and reaping small bits of income, or we will starve. It is clear: our question is changing.

So from this atmosphere forms a new question, with new work that we must do to crack open that nut and really make us look and examine our lives beyond our work. A new question that constantly pushes us to renew.

For me, I’m starting to see the patterns in how we communicate, and the patterns that form into psychic blocks. I haven’t been a blogger for very long, but I have been involved in the public discourse of theater arts for a few moons, and I’m seeing a new round of exciting energy that reminds me of a similar round of exciting energy. This new round comes primarily from this galvanizing and energizing series of posts from the New Colony, calling for a long-term manifesto and summit to organize and legitimize storefront theater in Chicago to take the helm as a trend-setting theater community. This is not the first time a flare has been fired calling for Chicago to take the helm as a world leader in creating new, exciting theatrical work. But because it comes in a time where many are chanting that call to action together – we have begun to tell that same story together with and through our lives – it feels like there is real momentum, that we are approaching a tipping point.

A story is never a complete truth, but it is always a compelling truth. A story ignores much mundane detail in the name of focusing our attention on what matters, on what needs work, on what needs focus. The story says “our work and our leadership is not as diverse as we are,” “our work is not risky enough, not bold enough,” “our work does not feature enough new voices, and so old voices retain too much influence.” A story is idealism, codified and written, with the beginnings of practical applications of that idealism – bold new ways of being – wrapped up in the myth and the fairy tale.

I empathized with this story of the New Colony’s – an entire framework for viewing the situation of Chicago storefronts – and, predictably, I was reminded of my own experiments at forming initiatives and coalitions. This is when I was an even younger arts advocate and as someone entirely new to engaging with public discourse. I recently looked through some old notes I had created for an ad hoc organization I was trying to put together – the Storefront Theater Alliance of Chicago, or STAC, I think we were calling it. I remember the meeting I had with several trusted folks in other small companies to plan out and carve a mission for this alternative organization that would represent the specific needs of independent theater – advocacy I didn’t feel happening and so I didn’t believe existed. I remember the moment when the plan all fell apart… we decided on our mission, a mission we could all get behind. And we looked up, just to check, the mission of the League of Chicago Theaters, and I saw:

Our mission and the League’s mission were the same thing. Nearly word for word. We were working towards the same goal. We were asking the same question from two very different angles.

That was, I think, a week before I first emailed Ben Thiem at the League and really started engaging him in conversation. Learning what he was working on, and giving him (public) feedback about the programs they had put on that had made a big impact on me. (Larry Keeley created this amazing manifesto for Chicago Theater to effectively simplify, unify and modernize our marketing and unite the community behind a few key initiatives that would break open the watermelon of new audience development, so to speak. I still keep that powerpoint hosted here. Read it. It’s a good story.)

That conversation led me to think deeper about the needs and situations of theaters beyond my own, and gather data, and see how my energies could be used to further other people’s stated goals – goals I believed in. Instead of writing a new story from scratch, I’d become an editor, a shaper of other stories, helping other advocates test messages and unite the community behind common purpose.

My question was changing, can you see?

I did more research, I talked with friends who had done even more research. Eventually, through Dan Granata, I read the stories of the beginnings of the League way back in the first revolutionary storefront movement in the 70s. I began to see that my efforts were part of a cycle of group behavior, and realized that if we didn’t understand the story of people like Lois Weisberg we were never getting anywhere… Storefront arts organizations have this way of proliferating and periodically you would have three or four ask the question of why storefronts didn’t cooperate to leverage their energies for cultural change. You had a lot of people get discouraged very quickly in the face of financial and political and personal limitations. I got a little obsessed with counting things in the hopes that the full picture would yield clarity, because I could see – from my initial perspective, I was not seeing the entire picture. But progress starting happening, slowly. Deb Clapp was named as the new head of the League, and on this one day Deb sat down with many of the same folks that had been involved with STAC – plus the Goodman and some other larger theaters – and bam, we planned Chicago’s World Theatre Day celebrations in a couple hours. It was easy to unite and cooperate, because it was for the collective benefit of all.

I felt that advocacy, suddenly, and felt myself becoming a stronger advocate. And I’m still not seeing the entire picture.

Here’s the thing – I believe in what the New Colony is asking, and I think – still – that they are presenting questions that we must all choose to act on. (So do it, seriously. Let’s stop putting it off in the name of our own immediate needs, get coffee together and hash this shit out, a common goal and a common purpose, because the world is waiting for change to be articulated and germinated.) Let’s also try to bring everyone to the table so we see how big this question really needs to be. Let’s learn the old questions so that we can adapt them into new questions. I believe in the transformative power of story, because I’ve seen its effect on my life, on our lives, on our city, on our country. The stories we tell rewrite what we become, somehow.

And so this year, I still believe in the old question – I still believe we must build a future and that our present is rarely one we expect – but I believe it with more experience and more choices under my belt. Some of those choices and some of that experience may be untrustworthy – I’m only human and so my failure to revolt doesn’t necessarily mean that revolution isn’t necessary.

But even the faultiness of stories yields amazing fruit. I still believe, for instance in the fanciful and perhaps hubristic story that I daydreamed about at UMass with my upper- and lower-classmen friends – that we would get to be part of an American cultural renaissance, an explosion/confluence of new science that illuminates art and art that illuminates science. Oddly enough, I believe that the act of telling myself that story again and again has somehow manifested itself in my life and my community. And the story of renaissance – that particular series of intellectual and creative reactions – has this ability to align us towards the possibility of radical creative thought (as opposed to radical destruction). It starts us running in the same direction, and starts us building and creating.

And so I ask the question: What are the stories I’m telling myself? Are they lies, or are they truths that I don’t understand yet? And how are those stories changing me, even as I fail to understand them? Do I want them to change me?

Do I need to tell myself new stories in order to become the person I want to be, or to create the community and world I would like to live in?

Choosing stories to change the world is positively mundane in the realm of theater… every artistic director does it, in their own way, every year. But even mundane things can explain the universe we live in – if we examine them closely enough.

I learned that from Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. It’s a good story. You should read it.

This post is cross-posted on the New Leaf Theatre Blog. The coffee ingested to produce it was provided by the incomparable Margo Gray. Thanks, Margo!

Buy Me a Coffee?

Stage Management Awards Update: We have Green-light.

June 16, 2009 By: Nick Keenan Category: Community Building, In a Perfect World, On the Theatrosphere

Very happy news came in a couple days ago from @mltachco: The New York Innovative Theatre Awards (they that evaluate the off- off- broadway scene) is trying out an Outstanding Stage Management award this coming season.

Nice job, off- off-ers. Hey Chicago, can we make this happen already?

From their press release:

Since the very inception of the IT Awards, we have wanted to develop a means of recognizing the unique, necessary and often overlooked role of the Stage Manager. As a part of the celebration for our 5th year, we are excited to be able to present the inaugural Outstanding Stage Manager Award.

The IT Awards will be the premiere ceremony to showcase the people who are the “glue that holds the whole show together from before first rehearsal until after strike. Our work as designers, performers, and directors is NOTHING without stage managers to understand, interpret, support and execute it in a real-world context.” — In Defense of Stage Managers blog

(that’s me. hee hee!)

After years of research and consulting hundreds of theatre practitioners and especially Stage Managers, we have developed a process similar to our honorary awards, but one as unique as the award itself. The two-part process includes both judge’s scores and an application that will be reviewed by a committee.

Beginning in January of 2009, as a part of their assignments IT Award judges were asked to evaluate how the technical elements of the production flowed together. Those scores will help inform the committee who will review applications and make the final decision. The application asks for examples of the Stage Manager’s organization and leadership. Two letters of recommendation are also required from people who worked with the Stage Manager on the production.

The OSM (Outstanding Stage Manager) Committee is made of eight individuals that include stage managers as well as directors, actors, press, producers and crew. OSM Committe Chair, Stephanie Cox-Williams said “There are awards for directors, lighting designers, sound designers, set designers, actors, etc., but without a Stage Manager to put all of the pieces in motion, correctly and on time, those elements would not make a cohesive production. The IT Awards, is taking a big step forward by recognizing the unsung heroes of the stage.”

All productions registered with the IT Awards for the 2009 season and that had opening dates after 1/1/09 are eligible to submit an application.

We believe that we are the first awards organization to recognize Stage Managers along with all of the other production elements. It is an exciting step, but an unprecedented one so feedback from the applicants, the OSM Committee and the OOB Community at-large will be an important part of this process going forward.

Buy Me a Coffee?

You have no control over your life.

May 27, 2009 By: Nick Keenan Category: Community Building, Teachable Moments

No answers here, just questions.

Big events have been drawing this fact of life into sharp relief over the past week/month/year, on a huge scale and many spin-off, convoluted, personal scales.

The manufacturer of my car, who happens to be one of the leading employers of a nearby state, will likely be bankrupt soon. I’ll probably be getting rid of it anyway, likely for well below the market value. Because honestly? Even if it is valueless, it makes no financial or environmental sense for me to keep it. In another year, that would have been a decision that mattered, and it’s almost an afterthought.

I’m getting to the age when mortality is an internalized fact of life for pretty much everyone I know. This Memorial Day, we lost Will. And we had another health scare the next day that was almost made worse by that ugly, gaping maw in the social safety net that most professional artists find themselves slipping through at one point or another: Uninsurance. Don’t get me wrong, I think children and the elderly deserve universal health care first as we as a society can afford it. But I also believe that we should freaking find a way so that everyone can have access to it. Even the simple fear of losing access to health care has its own cost in missed opportunities for screenings and preventative medicine. I don’t care how Social Darwinist you’re feeling today, I’m done with losing and almost losing friends, and I think we need to find a way to prevent basic health care and especially preventative medicine from being an even slightly financial decision.

Prop 8 woes in California also demonstrate the government’s and more importantly the Body Politic’s ability to remove our rights to well-being and a level social playing field, but there are encouraging signs that at least there’s a winnable battle yet to be had there. It’s not going to play out in the judicial oligarchy, because that wouldn’t really have a sense of finality – the decision lies in hashing out the problem once again in the court of public debate and ballot. There are ways and means to win back that control, and build lasting justice in reaction to a particularly clear injustice.

And there’s one more thing, probably the smallest of all these things, but the one that seemed the most like the universe coming right out and bitch slapping the people I live and work with, declaring: “You. Yeah, you. The technical theater artists and independent theater producers. That’s right: You. Fuck You.”

The Texas Senate, in an apparent fit of pique, proposed and approved a measure to make Lighting Design functionally illegal. The really bafflingly scary thing about this is just how often this happens. In the face of some other social ill, DIY creative enterprise in general can and will at any time be just plain eviscerated and made illegitimate with the sweep of a legislative pen. The tax code does this, the health care system does this, we do it to each other and we do it to ourselves by leaving ourselves vulnerable and unprepared. The society itself does not see this work – by which I mean the work of independent, non-profit theater whose goal is revelation over capitalization – as legitimate. Part of us doesn’t think it’s legitimate either, as measured by our actions and our real impact and influence on our communities.

But that vague sense of laziness is really hard for me to jibe with Will, who lived this life all the way through, without the equity card, without the health insurance, all the while supporting the small companies that he cared about as a grant writer and advisor, touring schools and being a crucial part of bringing developing plays to life for the developing playwrights that he believed in. Ultimately, we give all of ourselves over, and request a modicum of empowerment from society and government just to do our work – to explore troubling and mundane subjects and what it means to be a community and what it is like to share an imaginative spark – without quite this much fear of being left out to hang for spending time on this way of life. One of those subjects could be, certainly, how it’s only been (some) Americans in this last half-century that have lived under the delusion that we do in fact have control over our lives – and what does that mean?

If you don’t have control over your life, then it follows that sickness and health isn’t something you get to choose or earn based on market performance. I don’t know when that idea started to make sense to us. If the licensed electricians legitimized as theatrical lighting designers by the Texas legislature can work and get enough money or support to get health care – a safety net for when not if we eventually fall ill – we should be able to achieve at least that for each other.

Precariousness, large and small. I am thankful for what I am granted the chance to hang on to.

Not everything falls apart. Give a hand to @travisbedard and @jimonlight, who fought and organized intelligently over the past two days for their right to light. If the bill gets changed tomorrow, I’m giving them the credit. And see the steps they took to get there on Twitter – it’s a compelling call to action.

Buy Me a Coffee?

I love on Chicago Amplified

May 15, 2009 By: Nick Keenan Category: Community Building, On the Theatrosphere, Tools

WBEZ’s Chicago Amplified program has beefed up its presence in the Chicago theater talkback circuit… quietly and diligently recording interesting conversations and performances that would otherwise be lost to the world forever.

One of these recordings actually captured a portfolio dream for a sound designer… a full recording of Remy Bumppo’s original commissioned work Think Tank: American Ethnic, with both performer dialog and sound design mixed in. If your exposure to theater on the radio is primarily through LA Theatre Works – or if you’re outside of Chicago and want to see me put my money where my mouth is as a designer – I hope you can check it out.

If you’re creating great programming in Chicago and don’t have a podcast infrastructure to capture it yourself, I’d also recommend contacting the good people at Chicago Amplified… It’s one of the few places that will lend its excellent web infrastructure and traffic to creative organizations of all stripes.

You can also donate to Chicago Amplified here… And catch WBEZ employee Don Hall (and friends of TFTF Schadenfreude) in this video, doing what they all do best: Crank.

Buy Me a Coffee?

  • Favorite Topics

  • Blogroll