Monday, December 31, 2012

What will the Next Generation Little Theatre Look Like?

This isn't so much a blog post as a wish list. The theatre world was changed forever by the Little Theatre Movement that faced of against the Syndicates early in the last century.  The concept was that instead of us getting all of our theatre and culture from a few central hubs in the nation that every town should have a little theatre in their Downtown area that would provide theatre and cultural enrichment vital to the town and custom made for it. Now we're a tenth of the way into this new century and we're in desperate need of a new Little Theatre Movement. Broadway and all except a select few of the best regional theaters are nothing more than a theatrical Walmart. But instead of backing out of the fray it's time that the local artists stood up and took account of themselves. Here is my wish list of what the New Little Theatre Movement Should be....

The New Little Theatre Movement

  • Homeless: A new Little Theatre doesn't need to tie all of its resources into a building. Make theatre wherever you are, with whoever you're with.  Be flexible and move to wherever you can call home. Nowadays a stationary theatre company is dead.
  • Internet Savvy: In today's world if you're not on the internet then you don't exist! Every theatre artist and Little theatre should be engaging an online audience and not be shy about it. The internet and streaming video doesn't kill live theatre, apathy kills live theatre! Start a blog, have a youtube channel, get a Facebook page, etc. When used properly the internet builds community and a fanbase for your work. (And potential revenue...more on that later)
  • Don't be Ashamed of Merchandise: Put your name on anything you can print and sell. Get a t-shirt line. Publish your own plays. Get a CD out. Have your own action figure! Just get the swag out there.
  • Be your own boss/Advocate: Stop waiting for the big companies to hire you stop waiting for that moment when you're going to be "discovered" by someone and make it big. You discovered yourself and know you're own potential. Find your niche and try everyday to take that next step to reach your full potential. You are your own agent, publisher, producer, employer, publicity agent. Start acting like it.
  • Be friendly: Work with anyone you can find and team up with as many other companies just like you. Find your tribe of followers that wants to see work like yours done and create a network. 
  • Be a Consultant: Help other people and companies out there. Be an educator and have apprentices. There are traditions that need to be preserved and new innovations that need to be expanded upon.
  • Be innovators: Invent your own style and make sure that it's being seen. Define you're own philosophies and manifestos and share them with the world! What you create today will be what the next generation studies in the textbooks. Be diligent about it.
This wish list is quickly becoming my own business model and my manifesto for what real Small Town Theatre is. I encourage all of you to make your own manifestos and models about how your art gets made. The responsibility lies with you and no other. Make good art and above all else get yourself out there and do it!

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