The Wider Frame
Increasingly, I am seeing the problems that face the theatre as woven into a larger context; and I am coming to believe that we can't talk about the problems facing the field without also talking about that wider frame.
I think we can't talk about gender equity in season selection without talking about the 80 cents that women make to a man's dollar, or the woeful 3% of Fortune 500 companies led by women.
If we want to talk about the divide between artistic and administrative compensation, we need to also talk about CEO salaries that are 344 times that of the average worker.
If we talk about diversity on our stages, we need to remember that by 2050, America's minority population will exceed 50%.
When we talk about the financial growth of theatres, we need to factor in the externalized costs of theatre production, the same as every other business striving to move from GDP to GPI.
If we're concerned about theatre's declining relevance, we need to see it as connected to declining rates of empathy and creativity; and wrestle with the rapid changes to human consciousness.
The fight for better representation of African-American and Latino artists on our stages is related to the struggle to change a prison system that incarcerates black men at a rate over 6 times higher than that of whites; and that issues warrantless arrests for suspected illegal immigrants.
As we endlessly debate marketing tactics to increase our audience size, we need to remember that struggle takes place in the context of an increasingly disconnected civic society.
The discussion of aesthetic diversity, and the censorship of commerce, is intimately related to the impulses that are leading to the decimation of biodiversity and indigenous cultures.
The call for better arts advocacy won't work without calling to decrease voter apathy and the politics of demonization.
Theatre may be a mirror held up to nature; or it may be hammer with which to shape it; either way, we know which direction it's supposed to be facing. Lately, I've realized my own thought, and much of the discussion I'm reading, has been pointing theatre in the wrong direction.