On Localism

I had a suscpision that my quoted conversation with my friend Lindsay Jones might cause a bit of a ruckus among this strange online theater community that we have — Lindsay thought so too.

While Scott Walters and friends quibble about (the idea of the) generalist versus (the idea of the) specialist*, I’d like to make sure that the gist of my original post comes through loud and clear: maintaining the current paradigm of the nationally (or internationally) itinerate theater artist is NOT sustainable. And although I used one at the end of the sentence, I’ll spell it out too: Period.

I certainly don’t want to discount Scott’s point. It is, as I’ve noted before, a solid one that I think my own life in the theater bears out. But at the same time, I think it is fruitless to try to dissuade an artist of any kind from focusing on what they have found to be their core talent — for that matter, the thing, the act, that they believe sustains them as a creative person. Can we even attempt to rationalize an artist’s impulses? I don’t think so, but perhaps we can convince some of them — most? — to ply their trades locally, within the region that they want to live, rather than prolonging the notion that they must travel across the country (and the world) to make ends meet.

The thing is, I still believe that keeping things local is more important than dictating how a theater, or a gathering of artists, divides labor. Let them do so as they do now, with one crucial exception: use local talent.

* Original post on Theatre Ideas