Monday, August 25, 2008

I am the very model of a modern theatre generalist.

Scott Walters in response to a Mike Lawler post posits that theatre specialists are a symptom of our industrial approach to theatre and need to be dodged on a regional level…

I am of course paraphrasing, so please take a moment to visit the horses mouth.

Welcome back.

I am that theatre generalist working regionally (though I think the word clouds the difference between what I do and working at a regional theatre), and I think Scott has over-simplified.

Not about my value to an indie theatre company. I am ridiculously valuable to an indie theatre company (or TWO!). I can do whatever it is you don’t have one of, and do it competently.

But if you get twenty of me together and make a troupe of me?

You’re going to get competent theatre.

Never brilliance. I am not a brilliant theatre maker. Maybe there is a breed of brilliant theatre generalists out there, but I haven’t met very many (i.e. any – but I’m being generous). But that’s kind of the point of generalism no? breadth in lieu of depth.

With specialization comes virtuosity, which for my money is required for brilliant theatre.

Let’s be generous to me and say that I’m a 7 across the board.
At everything.
Graphic design, floor mopping, acting, sound design, carpentry, board oping, networking, marketing… whatever. I’m a 7. Comfortably above average.

I am by definition never the best person for the job. I am never your first call for anything. because 1.) there is necessarily someone better 2.) you’ll “save me” for the slot you can’t fill.

You wanna see some burn out?

It’s not just a question of the industrial approach to theatre, it’s a question of wanting the Best Available person for the position.

In baseball terms?


Kevin Youkilis.

Can you win with 9 of him? Maybe… but I doubt it.

What Scott meant to say (TOTALLY putting words in your mouth Scott… it’s like I’m a playwright!):

Indie theatres should be built on a core of generalists. A core / corp of people who can get shit done affordably and capably, spiced with truly virtuosic talent to transcend the Just Okay.

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