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As an actor, I would surely love to get paid more for the roughly 175 or so hours of rehearsal and performance I give to a show. As a managing director, I would love to pay my colleagues more for their work - including my colleagues who take time out from their own artistic pursuits to create a platform for others to pursue theirs. But as a theatre historian and unabashed lover of Chicago theatre past, present and future, I think the key is to find a sustainable model for artists - one which probably means artists need to connect more with their neighborhoods and communities outside the theatre community - rather than a wholesale importation of the existing, somewhat broken model. If we find that - if we find a way to support intimate, innovative theatrical risk-taking without getting locked into the Regional Theatre "fundraise-bigger building-fundraise" cycle - I think Chicago becomes the center of a Neighborhood Theatre revolution that is the natural heir to the Regional Theatre revolution of the 60s, a model which can help small enterprises spring up all around the country. It probably means we won't make our money in the "traditional way" (TV, films, commercials) - but my close friends in LA aren't doing that, either. It probably means its not enough to "just" be an actor anymore - which probably hasn't been true for a while, and is a myth that deserves busting. And it probably means we, as artists, need to be willing to take the administrative reigns as creatively and passionately as we do the artistic reigns. But the upshot is: we get to determine our own fates, rather than waiting for someone to come down and pave the way for us. And isn't that why we came here, instead of NY or LA? See you out there!
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Jun 25, 2010