Theater For The Future

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Well Shucks

April 20, 2008 By: Nick Keenan Category: In a Perfect World, Teachable Moments

It looks like I wasn’t the only stone that skipped across the pond. I probably missed this in the pre-trip slam, but that good ol’ value blogathon had a good kerplunk on the Noises Off column on the Guardian blog a few weeks ago – including a quote from yours truly. It made me feel almost relevant after sadly pouring over the delicious offerings in this year’s Festival over in the Hub at Edinburgh last week – half impotent and half relieved that I wasn’t able to sample any local theatrical delights this time around. Just the food and whisky, Dank u vel.

And god help me, I think as I get back to the grind I may have to write one of those insufferable pieces comparing Europe with America. I know, I know. But the contrast has been useful to help see outside perspective with more clarity – and Don’s piece on poverty and my conversations with our B&B host in Brugge about the European approach to poverty and the ongoing – and accelerating? – segregation of American society has got me thinking about theater that can be vital to our own community again…

I’m not one of those folks that thinks that Europe has it right. I could move to Sweden if I thought that. Or maybe just shack up at Ikea Schaumburg. No, the European system that works quite efficiently enough, thank you, is the result of centuries of city planning in the form of genocides, population clearances, religious wars, and other aggregated forms of culture assassination. We’ve only got SIX centuries of THAT to our credit, so if we keep following that path – as we are as we emerge as a fairly callous and self-interested empire – we’ll ALWAYS find ourselves behind that eight ball. We need to do what we were best at during our darkest hours – smart-aleck innovation that changes the game of injustice and lack of resources. Just because our hours here on home turf haven’t been that dark in some time doesn’t mean that innovation isn’t needed.

As luck would have it, I had plenty of time to think today about what seeing Europe as an outsider has taught me about my Americanness. Because after getting on the blue line at O’Hare – with a sigh of relief of familiar ground that didn’t require translation – and traveling oh, thirty minutes to Rosemont station, the friendly CTA that just sold our dutch travel buddies their $20 universal day pass – a bargain! – had us all get on a bus to take us two stops forward past slow zone construction, then back on the train. After being whisked across the otherwise desolate and unpopulated Scottish countryside in a smooth-as-butter rail journey, the welcome our fair white city currently gives to our international guests is, well… let’s hope it gets fixed for the Olympics or we’ll have some ‘splainin’ to do. And if we don’t have the Olympics to serve as sufficient impetus for a worthwhile public works initiative, what do you think – will our own community’s well-being and happiness be enough? Ha ha.

But enough smart aleck-ness from me. It’s good to be home after a wonderful trip, jet lag and all.

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2 Comments to “Well Shucks”

  1. Ah yes, you can always count on the ol’ blue line to welcome you back in the Chicago way! Seriously though, I can’t wait to hear about the trip! Welcome home!

  2. Welcome back! We all missed you!


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