Friday, March 28, 2008

Riddle me this

I am a bear of very little stuffing, so forgive me for not understanding, and forgive me for taking the long way around in explaining my lack of understanding.

I am a second tier blogger, and second tier theatre practitioner in a second tier American city. I have no credentials to wave around and the wisdom to know it. I do my best to be a non-offensive milquetoast in this space, because I may need one or all of you in the future so I try not to burn any bridges. I don't take any hard stands on anything, I'm more interested in the conversation than in riding the storm.

But I need to understand.

Most of you DO take hard stands on things. You use your blogs as daily or pseudo-daily editorial soap boxes on theatre or politics, and you rant away. And honestly it's what makes you enjoyable reads. You challenge my way of thinking and allow me to examine how I feel on issues. Some of you have bylines for publications that require something more than being able to pass a captcha to write for and use your blogs to supplement that. Good on ya. 

So with all these accomplished writers and theatre practitioners writing rants and screeds and diatribes why is it that only Scott Walters attracts scrums of disgruntled bloggers?

DevilVet. I am the non-Nylachi voice you were asking for. (Austin by way of San Francisco and New Hampshire)

Once you get around the fact that Scott posts all of his hypotheses as declarative statements rather than questions I don't even understand what's so offensive. Is he single minded in his pursuit of a true regional theatre stripped of the corporate capital feeder model we work under now? Of course he is. And Qui likes super heroes and Ian like Orson Welles.

Scott isn't picking on New York. It's never been about picking on New York. It's about REMOVING NEW YORK FROM THE EQUATION TO SEE WHAT ELSE WE HAVE. New York is what it is. It is the de facto capital of theatre until people start practicing their religion where they're at. There are ten of thousands of practitioners there, paid and unpaid, and they are taking admirable care of the beast.

So why are you all so goddamn defensive when the rest of the country asks what else we have going on? You want Scott to change his tone? Really? You are so incapable of being an audience who accepts frustration from a writer that you insist he alter his words to suit your sensibilities? He reads something that reads to him as xenophobic, he says so. He reads what is purported to be a national magazine with a narrower focus than he'd like, he says so.

He's more zealous than I'd like, but he's not my representative. I didn't vote for him, nor is he on my payroll. So when he gets caught with some shoddy methodology on counting articles, I laugh. It's not a scandal. It's not an election. A partisan got carried away.

Why can't New York laugh and join him?

For my money right now, AS IT AFFECTS ME, the two most important things that I know about that are happening in American Theatre are Available Light's attempt at full on Pay-As-You-Can in a non-NY environment (do they have the critical mass to do it? If they do, does Austin?) and the Des Moines Social Club. Is there a theatre that can exist without the government teat (and the requisite say in what I produce) or private sponsorship?

That's what Scott's asking. And I don't see why so many of you expect him to be careful about New York's toes in the process.

It may not be about you, or for you, and if you are in New York making it happen for yourself it is likely very much not about you. But neither is it to SPITE you.

Some times things are about us. And that's okay.


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