CIRCLE EXPAN D I N G BY CASEY STANGL
MAY 21, 2020
Look at the back of a program at any theatre in this country, and you’ll see the number of artists listed is minuscule compared to the number of administrators. And, often the artists listed are “affiliated,” which means they’re not staff and probably not making much money. I ran a small theatre in Minneapolis, so I completely understand the pressure to run ourselves like a business. But that kind of thinking has led us to justify our existence by measuring our economic impact rather than the intangible contributions made by our ephemeral art form. Artists are not at the forefront of our theatres. And directors, aside from those leading institutions, are not a central force in planning or creative problem solving. The pandemic is forcing us to pause, contract, and deal with smaller budgets and smaller
infrastructures. I’m hoping that’s going to bring artists closer to the center of what we do as we move forward. I would love to see more directors at the front lines of strategy, of imagining new models for us. I hope this is an opportunity to rethink ourselves and for directors, with all that we can bring to the table, to be more of a go-to resource.
EXISTING STRUCTURES MUST BE UPSET AND REIMAGINED SO WE CAN HAVE BETTER ACCESS FOR ALL. Theatre is about reflecting the lives that we’re living, right now. Looking through the lens of the virus is urgently affecting how we approach our work aesthetically. I think we are going to see directors
and choreographers incorporating more sophisticated ways of doing video and video capture into our processes and contracts. The various scenarios we are all contemplating— socially distanced audiences, hybrids combining live and streaming audiences, and even no live audience at all—provide us with the opportunity to increase access and reach a wider and more diverse audience. One positive thing I’ve found with the pandemic is that the upheaval has shone a spotlight on the inequities in our society and shown that there must be and can be more access. Zoom has been a great leveler; it has also revealed that those without access to technology are being left behind. This unprecedented moment is revealing how many voices are not being heard. Existing structures must be upset and reimagined so we can have better access for all. Casey Stangl is a director and an Associate Artistic Director of Ojai Playwrights Conference.
Casey Stangl rehearses Silent Sky with Victoria Grace at Arizona Theater Company
22 SDC JOURNAL | FALL 2020