Theater: Standing Outside
I planned to blog about Tech today but I can’t. I was standing outside ringing the bell. And, when nobody answered, I finally gave up. First, please notice that my blog title does not start with the word ‘GEVA’ as all of the others have. I want to be clear that this is not ‘Geva-specific.’ It’s far more systemic.
One of my biggest concerns for theater based upon my personal experience with the theater community in New York City (and now Rochester as well) is that it tends to be very exclusive. And, because of this, limits both its’ own growth as well as the community’s exposure to this important experience. It is because I have an immense amount of respect and appreciation for this particular art that I want to find the tourniquet, remove it and allow a healthy relationship to flourish between the two.
Let me first explain what I mean by “exclusive”. My boyfriend of 3+ years (and friend of 40+ years) is a director and a playwright in New York City. He is a member of a respected theater company, and moves in circles of exceedingly talented artists. I have the opportunity to converse with writers and socialize with actors, directors, and designers on a regular basis. The creative genius is astounding.
When they first meet me, they erroneously assume that I am in the business as well. And, for a great many of them, when they come to learn that I am in fact “only” a Worldwide Services Manager for a high tech company for 17+ years, I almost immediately come to occupy a different place in the mystical, theatrical caste system that exists. The ideas that they found interesting only a moment ago now sound like the “mwaa, mwaaa, mwaaaaaaaaaa” voice in the Peanuts cartoons. And I become acutely aware of the “isn’t that nice” expression while they scan the room over my shoulder for someone more professionally important with whom they might like to converse. I am suddenly rendered irrelevant.
I have given some thought over the last week to the various “art forms” and I cannot find another that is so completely tied to the human experience as theater. Painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, dance, film, music, writing, and even certain performing arts can exist entirely outside of the human experience aside from the fact that it requires audience, of course. Maybe I’m missing something important but theater is the only art form I can think of that is entirely inspired by, fueled by and an expression of the human experience. So, if this is the case, why am I standing outside?
As a Geva Cohort it was intended that we would observe rehearsals. We would be allowed to watch the process. We would be given tours of the building and other benefits such as this. But even in this ‘inclusive’ program this is a very ‘exclusive’ mindset. Perhaps this is part of the learning that is coming to Geva because of this pilot.
The truth is I am not fascinated by you simply because you are “theater”. Rather, I’m in love with you because you are a reflection of the human experience. And you will earn my fascination if and when you dare to finally connect with me.
Geva is making some adjustments. After a run through, the director asked the cohorts for feedback. And after Tech is complete we may have a conversation with the artistic director about how Geva approaches programming of relevance to this community. And, for these things, I am very grateful.
But, at the same time, marketing management did not know who we were one day while we waited outside the rehearsal room. And I needed a personal assist from the director to get the box office to take my money for preview tickets. And today I froze my @$$ off in the cold ringing the bell. And, for the most part, I have been asked to quietly observe rather than truly engage. And so many other examples.
Theater? I’m in love with you. And I’m standing right outside trying not to give up. Please answer the bell.