Monday, April 13, 2009

Defining "Local Artist"

The Crazy Enough thread has taken on a life of its own, and a recent post queried: "What defines a local artist?" I think this is a great question that deserves its own post.

After all, Portland is a place where so many are from somewhere else. I meet few artists who were born and raised in our rainy clime. Does an artist have to live here a certain number of years before he/she is local, or make a level of commitment to staying in the city? Is just "giving it a try" acceptable? The thread is very actor-centric, logical given their immediate visibility, and it would be interesting to get some other artistic roles in the mix as well.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think a local artist is someone who lives here.

So therefore if you live somewhere else, you are not a local artist.

So...if you are only here for the duration of the show you are working on, you are not a local artist.

Anonymous said...

it's a good question. in some places where i've lived and performed, especially the smaller towns, local status is NEVER bestowed upon people not born locally - even after a decade or two. PDX is a small city but in many, many ways it also displays a similar exclusivity. cliques and cabals, serial infidelity and gossip gaggles are imbedded in many of the cultural entities here. this is normal and, as in a Chekov play, it leads eventually to destructive behavior. most of these org.s are quick to absorb new talent to alleviate the numbing boredom caused by proximal bonding; mostly, i find, to toy with them. it is a sad truth.

Anonymous said...

wow.
that was an amazing concatenation of words.
well said, and i even got the message.
i thot i was the elite wordsmith around here.
good stuff.
and true.
too true.

Anonymous said...

i think that a local artist is one who lives here and works here, no matter from whence they hail.
the unique situation in the case of ms large is that her fame was garnered NOT from and in portland, but from and on TV.
so she gets to have a one woman show in the biggest budget legit theatre company in town cuz she is the closest thing to a star we've got.
so be it.
life goes on.
life isn't fair.
the economy is failing.
and the planet just keeps on spinning with out our help and despite out failures and poor decisions.
in 100 yrs no one will care and right now no one in china cares at all.
hey china! do you care?
didn't think so.
everyone eventually gets their 15 mins and some hang on for 16.
large is hanging on to hers cuz she deserves it.
pretty simple.

Anonymous said...

new talent is like a tender sprout pushing it's way thru to the sun. ideally, responsible local hands should do all they can to provide security for it. after all everyone is new at least once.

Anonymous said...

a local artist is someone who WANTS TO BE HERE.

Anonymous said...

a little off the topic but germain i think.
here is the dilema of local theatre:
there is plenty of talent here.
plenty.
but any show that needs, say, 10 strong actors to make it work, has a problem.
the problem is one of ego.
everyone wants the lead, and when they don't get it, they tend to turn down the secondary roles. this means that the theatre company has to go to second and third tier actors to fill in the rest of the cast.
this weakens the overall production.
what a big city has over us is that they can fill ALL the roles with top flight actors.
they simply have more to choose from.
and it is ONLY ego that prevents the best portland actors from taking supporting roles.
now this post is meant to be a generalization, so please don't bother with the nit picking.
i think, overall, and to this day, it rings true.
(and since every post should offer a solution when at all possible: get over yourselves, do the work, make art and enjoy the process.
it is not about you. it is about mounting great work that reverberates for the audience -- would you rather do a lead in a show that lacks depth, or do a smaller part in a show that is devastatingly good?)

Anonymous said...

One of the things I love most about Portland is the fact that we get to see second and third tier actors BECOME first tier actors by virtue of the fact that they are given the CHANCE.
PCA of course, as has been discussed at length, does not get this concept --- they do not BELIEVE.
And yet they still produce an endless parade of shitty theatre.
And the ringers they fly in are no great shakes -- I saw a lead go up on her lyrics in Guys and Dolls
HELL, WE CAN DO THAT.
As I say, when given the CHANCE, locals rise to the challenge and become BETTER right before our eyes.
And THAT my friends is what makes a LOCAL ARTIST.

Anonymous said...

I think it is possible to put a little different spin on what Anonymous 4/17/2009 11:16:00 AM attributes to mere ego. I won't try to guess at the truth of the matter because I'm not sure that I know, but may suggest that not a few actors audition for several shows at the same time because you never know director will offer you a role, and when you do get offered more than one at a time, you choose the one that will be more challenging and/or more enjoyable. You may even turn down a "small" role because you don't believe it will present enough of a challenge and therefore growth potential . . . or perhaps you don't have a feeling that this particular production or director will be a good fit for your talents or sensibility. That's a little more understandable, even laudable, rationale than "mere ego."

Anonymous said...

here is something to ponder.
bad acting is like bad breath.
the source of it is the last to know.
and like bad breath, bad acting is usually easily remedied.
one is fixed with moutwash and one is fixed with a good director.
i believe the reason PCS does not hire actors who need a strong director is that they do not believe in their own directorial skills enuf to pull it off.
they have to have the "comfort cushion" of a "seasoned" actor to set them at ease.
but of course it does not work.
nonetheless, this is the reason they eschew locals --- no confidence in their own ability to direct.
and rightly so.
rightly so.

Anonymous said...

dear 2:30
you have very cleverly, tho inadvertantly, buttrussed the very argument you tried to dismantle.

Anonymous said...

"New to Town" = resident, just moved to town.

"Rising Newcomer" = resident, 2 to 3 years.

"Local Artist" = resident, 3 to 5 plus years.

"Veteran Portland Artist" = resident, 10 plus years.

Anonymous said...

"on the verge of decrepitude" =
20+ yrs

Anonymous said...

egos, bad acting, bad directing,bad bad bad.

there are no small parts only small stipends.

in the big markets no one knows if you're local. depth is assumed. why not assume PDX to be deep and act accordingly. give each other the benefit of the doubt instead of the insecurity two step.

paying peeps a living wage would be at start.

Anonymous said...

amen to that.
what is a living wage tho?
there is one AEA contract that pays $35 a show!
some of the indie theatres pay $50!
is that a living wage?
dinner theatre pays $75-$100.
but i guess it comes down to how many shows a week eh?

Anonymous said...

Why would Portland Center Stage hire 2nd or 3rd tier if they could hire 1st tier? Why would any director who could afford to hire their first choice do otherwise?

Do directors have a responsibility to "train" actors? Do theater companies have a moral obligation to hire "old guard?" Or do they have a responsibility to hire the actor who best informs their vision of the role (assuming, as one of you pointed out, that the actor will accept the part).

Also, Alison Tigard is fairly new to town (but fairly local) and I think she does a wonderful job with a fairly tricky non-part in Frost/Nixon at PCS. Do we hate her because she's not local enough? Or do we like her because she's one of the "locals" who gets cast in a PCS show (alongside the other "locals" in the show Michael F-W, Laura F-S, and Darius Pierce)?

Or do we like her when she's in Inviting Desire but not when she's in something at PCS?

Does Darius Pierce count as a strong local actor when he's working at Vertigo but not when he's working at PCS (which he's done three shows this season)?

And what are we saying about Storm here? That she's not local enough because she was on a reality show? Does that somehow mean she doesn't really want to be here? Even though she moved back here as soon as the show was over? And owns a house here? And talks constantly about not wanting to live anywhere else?

Are the other members of Storm's band in her show not local because they are musicians? Do they not count?

Or is it specifically that she didn't start out as an actor?

But wait. She did. She got her training at a conservatory in New York. So.

What, specifically, is the problem here?

Anonymous said...

i think specifically the problem here is that you don't understand the previous posts and therefore your post is indecipherable.

Anonymous said...

yes. absolutely. every theater in town has an implicit duty to hire actors for roles that will expand their ability to realize their potential as performing artists.
absolutely yes.
we are not NYC. we are portland.
if not here, then where?
a hungry actor will give you more every time out of the gate, than an actor who has little to learn or gain by playing the same type of role over and over again.
absolutely yes.
clearly.
definitively.
and as for pcs specifically, they could hardly do worse that they already do, with some of their casting choices.
this is not meant to be glib.
it is simply the case.
as we have witnessed for years and years now.
with no learning curve in sight.
a local actor will nearly always be the better choice.
it means more to them.
it means everything to them.
why not harness that desire?

Anonymous said...

Oh for god's SAKE.

Art is universal, you pompous freaks.

"Local" is an outdated concept -- in fact, it never WAS truly a concept, not to anyone recognizing the universality of "story."

Do we discuss what makes "local" theatre -- that is, do we pass on Shakespeare because he didn't go to Grant High, for gods sake???

Do we overlook the director with the temerity to direct in Dallas?

Is a designer less or more desirable because she only works north of Ashland and south of the Columbia? Jesus Christ -- REALLY?

Same with acting. It's all damn local, it's all damn global.

Just look for work, get to work and get OVER IT.

Anonymous said...

did someone have a bad day?
take an aspirin and get some sleep.
all will be well.
shhhhh.
sleep now.
let the demons rest.
shhhhh.

splattworks said...

I'll take that valium martini, now. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Here is a example of a case that perfectly captures what one poster was getting at:
I recently saw a performer in a show. she was a knockout. world class. really.
no exaggeration. just great!
then some months later, i saw her in another show.
awful.
no sign of talent at all.
really forgettable and not hire-able.
did she lose all her talent overnight?
no.
she simply needs a strong director.
a director can take a B actor and get an A actor preformance out of them.
that is what is so exciting about live theater.
given the chance, most actors come through.
key word here:
chance.
as in: opportunity.
if you as a director are not doing that with your talent, then you are not doing much.
you are not doing the right thing.
you are being paranoid and selfish.
have some cajones.
take a journey into the uncharted.
those are the most gratifying of all.
and one would think that falling short with a stacked deck would be most disheartening.
haven't you had enough of those already?

Anonymous said...

I love this OLD discussion! But let's kick it up a notch and take BOLD action. All you "Anonymous" posters who profess to not care about PCS - let's tell Chris and Rose how to do their job and cast the season's for them! Let's put together a coalition of "experts" and cast the season and then send our recommendations. Though we'll have to play fair and let them tell us how to do our jobs as well. Because clearly only Portland Theatre People Know How To Do It and those "no-talent, Drones" at PCS clearly are interlopers and have no business here in precious, precious (clueless) Portland.

So I'll start - Let's see... mmmm I forget the rules - everyone must be local is that right? Even if they SUCK? or are 2nd Tier or 3rd Tier? Oh! and can we please name all the 2nd & 3rd Tier actors by name? That would be good to get out in the open.

Okay - let's start with this season just to warm up:

any takers? or just the usual CRICKET

Anonymous said...

"clearly (those who run) are interlopers and have no business here"

i could not agree more!!!!!!!!!!!!


play ball!!

Anonymous said...

hey they aren't "no talent drones at all."
they are much, much worse than that.
they are pretentious, over confident, under qualified, over paid, insensitive and just plain awful.
mostly, one gets the sense that they are very unhappy here.
to wish they would get hired away is very likely exactly what they themselves wish for daily.

Anonymous said...

Could not agree more! I have been an actor in this town for over 25 years and they had the audacity to ask me to come in an audition! I am way past auditioning for anybody.

We should have a say in what happens at PCS. It's in our community and if everyone that works there is from somewhere else what the hell is the point.

I agree - let's cast the shows for them and then tell them who to hire in the administration. It's our tax dollars that supports them.

Anonymous said...

well personally i don't mind auditioning.
it would be nice to get cast every so often though.
being AEA and having to LEAVE town to get work is kinda counter to why i moved here.
it sucks a little that the companies who have the AEA contracts don't do more to hire locally.
there is nothing i can do but think good thoughts.
good thoughts don't pay the rent however.

Anonymous said...

I have to weigh in - good lord you guys sound a little crazy. I have had the good fortune to work at PCS a few times. And enjoyed it every time. Very professional and fun people. Far from being pretentious or unhappy - Having moved from a city that had a regional theatre about the same size who did NOT hire locally at all I was excited by the fact that PCS does hire so much locally. It is not the rule with regional theatres.

Most regional theatres are considered national theatres bound by union contracts. They are NOT I repeat NOT "community" theatres - which you all seem like you think they are.

Anonymous said...

It does suck a little... but doesn't it also suck for the local actors in whatever town you left Portland to go work at? I'm not knocking that! In my experience, we all support each other when we get work out of town... I'm just not sure we can have it both ways. :)

It totally sucks a little, but aren't regional theaters at the scale of PCS - of which there are not that many around the country - aren't theaters at that level a national business at least to some degree? Would we really be better off if we never worked with artists from outside of Portland? If we didn't have artists from around the country experiencing our city?

A lot of actors in this country are able to make their livings as theater actors only because they can work all over the country.

Also, this conversation is only ever about actors. How come we never hear outrage when they bring in out-of-town designers? Perhaps just a different temperament... :)

Anonymous said...

to anon 7:32
DUDE have you ever wanted to have an INTELLIGENT conversation about portland theatre?
if so, then now is your chance to prove it.
you're little hissy fit is didactically valueless.

Anonymous said...

LOL - inherently valueless. I think if you read that post closely it was making fun of all the other posts.

There is not intelligent discussion on Followspot. It's all bitter actors howling at the moon that they don't get cast. But we never ever challenge the notion that maybe they just aren't talented enough...

Never a word about the many many theatre artists who aren't actors that are employed at PCS.

Anonymous said...

my view is that PCS is professional facility that is run by un-distinguished hacks and, therefore, people confuse it with a community theatre justifiably. many small budget community companies in PDX are far more competent and produce much more compelling work. this discrepency is the crux of my bitterness. i do not want CC to hire more locals. i want him fired. the next AD should be aware of the successes these companies are having and bring these productions into the PCS program somehow. PCS should lead by inclusion not by exclusion.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that 3:53.

and as for:
"Never a word about the many many theatre artists who aren't actors that are employed at PCS."

used to be 100 employees.
that number is shrinking dramatically it seems.
and WHY?

as 3:53 says:
it is run by HACKS.

for all you PCS lovers out there,
you are expousing the virtues of a doomed entity.
you can't see the forest for the trees.... or in this case: the certain failure for the current paycheck.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the comment about people confusing it for a community theater.... The crux of your bitterness is that other companies do more compelling work.

Firstly, many other companies do more compelling work to you. And, it seems, to many other followspot posters. And sometimes to me, too. But PCS subscribers aren't going to find a defunkt season or a Fever season or an Imago season more compelling. So, for every "Apollo" or "How to Disappear" or "Crazy Enough", there's also a "Guys and Dolls" or "Earnest".

Secondly, no single theater company should be the most compelling work to everyone. That's why there is room for so many companies in Portland. Though I understand the desire to have greater respect for their work. I think I'd probably like the small theater (where they can afford to take more risks) better than the local big, commercial theater in any city.

And I'm honestly curious what you mean about PCS bringing other Portland shows into the PCS program. Are you suggesting that they should actually set aside part of their season to import runs of shows by other Portland companies? That doesn't seem practical on many levels. And The Armory itself hosts tons of community events.

Not all companies losing employees in this economic climate are hacks. I think there are some legitimate beefs being discussed here, but that seems a little unreasonable to me.

And by "me", I mean someone who doesn't make their living through PCS. If not all the criticizers are bitter, frustrated actors, then not all of the people who are actually engaging in conversation with you are PCS employees or sycophants. It's comments like that shut down conversations.

Anonymous said...

"it's comments like that that shut down conversations"

---and yet you chose to continue the dialogue.
hmmm.

as for
"Are you suggesting that they should actually set aside part of their season to import runs of shows by other Portland companies?"

yes, i think that is precisely what the poster meant and it's a great idea!

as for PCS hosting other stuff---
horse pucky --- i know for a fact they do not even return calls from those seeking to rent it out.

(i am not claiming you are 100% off, it's just not all blue sky as you imply)

not all companies going thru layoffs are run by hacks, but in this case the hack factor is high and the layoffs, i daresay, might have been avoided if they hadn't made so many boneheaded moves.
look, hindsight is 20/20 --- but PCS has been making bad choices for years.
they would have failed in the best of times as far as i can tell.

Anonymous said...

how interesting. the defenders of PCS (at least it's hiring, staffing and production policies) have a decidedly elitist waft to their posts and the detractors definite hurt feelings. it's a bit of the old abuser/victim duet. how typical. how provincial. two other local troupes are managing to avoid this syndrome. look at Third Rail. even though their programming is not generally to my taste they do work entirely with local artists and at a professional level. they have earned a solid reputation in only a few years. ART has thrown the monkey off it's back with the formation of their acting company and is beginning to regain the same. so it is possible to rise above this pettiness. the PCS board must fire CC and RR - then hire someone committed to the work - not their rice bowl and/or reputation.

Anonymous said...

"---and yet you chose to continue the dialogue.
hmmm."

There's really no winning here, is there? Yeah, I continued because I was hoping to raise the level of the dialogue, not end it. But perhaps you are right... I should remember to only have conversations in person.

Anonymous said...

i wonder if we can recall CC?
get a petition going.
i am kidding of course.
but i sure wish a reporter from the O would read this thread.
that might help put the spotlight on it all.
seems to me that's how the opera finally dumped their old AD.
as for ART and its acting troupe, one quickly grows weary of the same 6 or 8 bodies filling the same cast, show after show after show.
but maybe that's just me.

Anonymous said...

A reporter would not take any of this very seriously since nobody has the courage to post under anything but anonymous. And as for their board replacing them did you stop to consider how many people go to see shows at PCS? They have over 10,000 subscribers (I have telemarketed for them and their subscribers love PCS so what the hell are you talking about) - if you want to be heard or be taken seriously then sign your name idiot. If they are such hacks why would people bother? seriously. sign your name or shut up.

Anonymous said...

A little anger management problem there fella?
see above: "please do not attack other commenters."
(this is printed under LEAAVE YOUR COMMENT)
if you knew anything about reporting (or anything about anything other than telemarketing and how much subscribers LOVE the place they invest their money)
you would know that reporters can find people to quote in their articles. it is what they DO for a living.
these posts are a perfect barometer for what is going on in the theatre community.
before you throw around words like "idiot" and "shut up"
sit back, relax and try to understand that one's opinion is valid.
but one's anger --- that is best left unshared.

Anonymous said...

that is absolutely HYSTERICAL.
mr/ms telemarketer slams all of the above for posting without a name and then does the SAME THING his or herself.
PRICELESS!!!
talk about an "idiot."
take a look in the mirror buddy.
i don't know what is female for buddy, but take a look in the mirror, toots.

Anonymous said...

i think that "hack" is probably not the right word.
i think that a more dispassionate
view would be to say that many people do not like their work or their personalities.
while we think of hack as a bad word meaning incompetent, it really means "commonplace"
i suggest that PCS's failures are NOT commonplace, but rather extraordinarily and unusually large.
so they are not hacks in that sense.
and sadly, their successes do not counterbalance and offset their shortcomings.

Anonymous said...

i agree that slamming someone about anonymous posting anonymously is absurd. i also agree that portraying the AD of PCS as a hack doesn't go far enough.

it's inevitable that CC will be swept aside.

Ben Waterhouse said...

Regardless of whether we get people to go on the record saying so, "a few dozen actors don't like Chris Coleman" isn't much of a nut graf. The day I find any evidence that PCS is really on the skids, I'll write about it; so far I haven't. If you have any documentary (or even anecdotal!) evidence that Coleman's had an adverse effect on the company (beyond some lackluster musical productions—no company in town isn't guilty of the same), send it my way, and I'll look into it.

Anonymous said...

well there is a rule of thumb, is there not ben, that when letters come in to a paper, it represents the tip of the iceberg--pro or con --because so few people take the time to write.
this is actually a statistical science i am talking about -- not hearsay.
and the only anecdotal evidence i know of that CC does not know what he is doing is that he insulted a huge donor publicy -- who then withdrew her $ all her family and friends' $ forever; and the one wherein he apparently gave a curtain speech with an impaired ability to speak and errh mmm, stand in the actual spotlight.
gossip is a bad thing, but these i believe are actual facts.
whether true or not, these are not proof that he cannot direct.
i leave that proof to the viewing of his shows.

Ben Waterhouse said...

The letters we get at the paper tend to be either the opinions of the very involved citizenry or the rantings of madmen. I only ever get the latter.

Anonymous said...

are you a licensed shrink?
by what skill do you pronounce them madmen?
no mad women?
they are ranting because you don't agree?
because they don't use puncutation?

Anonymous said...

Misspellings are a depandable clue.

Anonymous said...

now THATS funy

Anonymous said...

ya, thats so treu
mispelins and tppyos ar so indickatyve of onez EYE CUE.
yew kin tel al the crayzee pepple
frum thaat.
ah jest sayen

Anonymous said...

Having just paid $65.50 to see Taylor hicks in GREASE at the Keller, I can tell you that I wished I was seeing the recent version at the IFCC again instead.
(The one with Marie Boule)
Without exception, the Portland cast of that show was better.
Particularly the Teen Angel.
Taylor Hicks walked thru it.
The set was pretty good and the band was OK, but boy oh boy, the acting and singing were not OK.
And the comedy direction was terrible--- embarrassing.
And, I kid you not, half of the choreography for "We Go Together" (I think that's the title) was done SITTING DOWN.
The show had no heart, no soul and no real enthusiasm.
It really made me appreciate our local stuff a lot more!
And we only have to pay about $30 or so at most venues around town.
So here's my definition of a "Local Artist"
One who is NOT is a road show at the Keller.

Anonymous said...

i think it is clear that pdx artists would gain experience, confidence and chops by being cast with better pdx artists and that that opportunity is lost when theatres choose to go outside the local talent pool.
again, i think it speaks to a lack of confidence on the part of the local directors.

Anonymous said...

i agree.
the result is a kind of "super-breed" of local actors who get hired until they are over-exposed.
the "remainders" languish.
it is as if there is no "farm-league" in town.
just "the show" and the bush league.
nothing in between.
no chance to nuture those in most need of it.
the result as i see it is that
having failed to develop any depth in the ranks, the "Bigs" feel they have to hire out of towners, and as been discussed already, the added costs of travel, lodging, and union contracts precipitate the need for highter ticket prices.
then the money that you, the ticket buyer spends, leaves town with said hired artist. so in effect you are not investing in local theatre at all.
you are giving your money to a hired gun who has no ties to portland.
all the while, the locals sit by and watch for an opening.
it is the opposite of the correct way to do it.
and let me say this to the heads that run PCS.
from day one, your reputation for "abusing" auditioners was so brutal that it is no wonder that even today when someone works up the nerve to present themselves before you, they are crippled with apprehension.
hence they do not represent themselves well and it is a self fulling prophecy that = "locals suck"
you are the ones to blame and you are now cooking in your own sauce.
you've had to lay off empoyees and who knows what is next.
sad sad sad.
for all concerned.