theater is dead, part 3,942.

which is what it feels like. Great article in the New York Times today about how the career of stage acting will make no one no bread at all. Which is to say, duh. But I like that it was a topic of vigorous and pissed-off debate–Tim Blake Nelson said something along the lines of “we are subsidizing the theater,” which is true. Theater artists generally aren’t paid what they’re valued, and subsidize the work they love by other means and other work. Best example in the article:

Andrew Weems gave an explicit example, recalling that some two decades back he’d been in a production of “Troilus and Cressida” in Washington for which the actor playing Thersites had received about $600 a week. Recently Mr. Weems found himself playing the same role, Off Broadway, in a production directed by the esteemed Sir Peter Hall. Mr. Weems was earning significantly less. Another voice chimed in to denounce the disturbing tendency of regional theater management to mimic the latest trends in the corporate world: While the artistic directors’ salaries have steadily grown, payments to actors have not kept pace.

On a somewhat unrelated note: a couple of years ago, I had a very illuminating conversation with the husband of Ben’s judge, an economics professor, about the state of the art, specifically, of regional theater. I basically told him that the current system in no way facilitated the development of exciting new work; we hashed it out, and ultimately determined that theater has become a museum, showing the same old shit for audiences who wanted it.

“And what’s wrong with that?” he asked. I couldn’t help but agree. If that’s what the regional theater has become, that’s what it is, and fin.

Flash forward to convo with colleague yesterday–he was talking about staging a show in a gallery, how it was the most open, inviting space he’d seen. Art galleries love live performance–for fine artists, I’ve noticed (even in my couple of guest teaching stints with SFAI) that it’s sort of this exotic last frontier–both performance and theater–something that sexes up a place.

Theaters are becoming museums. Museums are becoming theaters.

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