Wednesday, August 03, 2005

An Invitation to Artistic Directors of Portland Theatres
August 3, 2005

FollowSpot is fading out for summer vacation but will resume places August 21. During this intermission, I would like to invite artistic directors (or similar title-holders) to answer two questions. First, how do you personally define outstanding theatre? Second, what defines your company (not so much mission, but artistic credo)?


Follow Spot said...

To prime the pump, here's my working thesis on Question 1:

Outstanding theatre so effectively conveys the artists' intentions that it provokes audiences to feel, think, respond. It's a sum greater than its parts; an event that transfixes, transports, transforms. It’s as meaningful as entertaining, and eminently superior to its contemporaries in quality of craft, depth of thought, breadth of imagination.

Follow Spot said...

And here's a sample artistic credo from
a highly esteemed company elsewhere in the country
whose work still evokes strong memories of fascinating explorations into the magic of theatre:

We are a theatre of directness, a theatre that speaks to its audience, that listens and needs a response. We believe that theatre is an event. We are a theatre of emotions - an immediate theatre - a theatre that excites and uses a direct language - a theatre of the imagination.

olga sanchez said...

Outstanding theatre is fun and holy.

Anonymous said...

I know Artistic Directors in this town are busy, but I also know they can't possibly be this busy that they ignore this post completely even thought they've been contacted individually about participating. Olga Sanchez can't be the only Artistic Director in this town who cares to be a part of a dialogue outside of one's own litle world. It concerns me dearly that no other ADs have anything AT ALL to say on this subject.

a gentleman said...

I must say, that many Autistic Directors have nothing but their own ego in the works . . .need I say more (i.e. SRT, PCS??!!) and yes, I am in the biz . . .not angrily, but with a bit of humor.

Anonymous said...

I'm not an artistic director, but if I were I'm not sure I'd be eager to post my credo here to have all of my productions mocked in the light of my own artistic ambitions. Given financial backing, artists who didn't have day jobs and endless rehearsal conflicts, and time enough to rehearse in the actual peformance space, I feel certain that the standards they'd all like to hold themselves to could be attained. In the light of what they have, though, some truly wonderful theatre is created, and though we should never stop striving for better art, I'm not sure that the personal attacks that can sometimes be found in criticism, both in this blog and elsewhere, aids in the elevation of what artists in this town are trying to achieve.

one of the four said...

one of four co-artistic directors of defunkt theatre:
for me, outstanding theatre is collaborative, challenging (to the artists and their audience), and treats the audience as intelligent, feeling participants in the theatrical event. artistic credo: non-wasteful, dedicated productions (where shoestring budget is a blessing) of audacious scripts without easy answers…

james moore said...

i'd add to anonymous' thoughts that, in addition to those of us with day jobs, season preparations and rehearsals, artistic directors might dedicate more to this admittedly valuable topic if this weren't an anonymous blog, which can sometimes devolve into harsh dismissals.

but i enjoy limiting myself to 50 words.

Follow Spot said...

Back from vacation, during which I still spent two nights at the theatre. While not Portland-specific, I archive my comments here for sake of comparison. The first is a native export; the second is an American import presented by local talent. Both were worthwhile evenings among appreciative—and attentive—audiences.

Villa Villa
De La Guarda
August 11, 2005

Sharp, crazy fun. First and last thirds of bungee-cord performance spectacular in all senses. Repetitive mosh pit middle reminded me of all that I don’t like about loud, noisy clubs. Still, if one could harness its massive energy and engaging envelopment to tell meaningful stories, then all the more wow.

El Hombre de la Mancha
Teatro Nacional
August 13, 2005

Crisp, lively, but health issues left leads hesitant rather than full-out. Book-to-song transitions uneasy. Small cast made evening more intimate than usual but no less showy. Most interesting was gypsy “muse,” recurring conceptual layer that could’ve been further integrated. Handsome set but wimpy drawbridge. Lakewood’s last year holds its own.

John Monteverde said...

Dear "Follow-spot" -
I actually am an artistic director and I am happy to share my own thoughts on your invitation.
I did have a few comments though.
The reason I've never posted before is that I honestly never knew this sight existed. I'm afraid I'm really not very blog/internet savvy. I only recently heard of it and imagine my surprise to find that you have actually reviewed some of my work! But I agree with the always wise James Moore (who, by the way, can attest to my internet ignorance) about why more artistic directors probably haven't responded.
Also, I think you may find that I am not alone in my web/blog ignorance. If you look at most Portland Theater web-sights, you'll notice that the artists listing on them are usually people under 40 and the theater companies that tend to be the most active on these sigtes are the ones run by people in their 20s and 30s (Theatre Vertigo, for example) I believe nearly all the larger theaters in town are run by people well over 40 (I recently turned 40 myself and I think I am on the younger end of the age range) Not to present an age stereotype but, in general, I don't think we are a very internet savvy generation. So that may tend to loose you a certain cross section of Portland Artistic Directors.
And speaking of age and lack of internet savvy, is it me or are these entries all extremely hard to read? Between the small (and somewhat fancy) font and the busy background, I had a very hard time making out some of what was written.
Anyway, I think it's great that people in Portland theater can have a place to discuss postive growth and come together as a community.
Oh, and to answer your question; to me, good theater makes the universal personal and the personal universal. It's about being reminded of what you know. It's about building community and refreshing the soul. And it's when you sit in a room with a bunch of other people and you know you are not alone in the universe.
That's what it is for me anyway.

Follow Spot said...

Do others have problems with the font? I know it can differ from computer to computer, but if it's a global issue, I can try to tweak the HTML coding.

john said...

I guess it's just me, Follow Spot.
And I guess your topic of "what theater means to you" is just not as captivating a topic of conversation to your readership as Neil Starbird's butt.
Well, you tired ....