Lately, I’ve been having these bouts with theater depression. Everything I’ve seen on stage (this included equity and non-equity theaters) in the last few months has made me melancholy. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve seen everything that Chicago has to offer. But the shows I have seen have been, excuse my bluntness, disappointing.
One of my colleagues said that I have “lost your love for theater.” Because the plays that he likes, I don’t feel the same way about. I don’t think I’ve lost any love for theater. I don’t even consider myself a person that’s ultra critical of someone else’s art.
However, I find myself questioning why people are in theater. Aren’t we suppose to teach, inform, share, and create meaningful questions that the audience is left to answer, talk about and share? I don’t get a sense that the play that was chosen to perform on a stage gave any statement about the companies message.
Is it the theater’s hubris where they think that “if they build it, then people will come?” Why do theater companies regurgitate the same productions? Why are the same plays being done all over the country?
I wonder how the UK feels of our lack of expression and guts. Do you think people are just as apathetic as me and say they enjoy theater “just because” they don’t want to rock the theater boat? I wonder what types of conversations the theaters have in their meetings about the seasons they are pulling together. Is it based solely on how much money they can make? Are they really talking about a message or a visual concept?
I keep telling myself, as I move towards producing my first work in Chicago, that I have to keep these things in mind. What am I trying to say about the piece that I’ve created? Will the audience “get it?”
I’ve said that I’m a vessel and the stories that I create should reflect a meaningful connection. Am I making my theater experience too “spiritual?” I want to feel alive when I go see a performance, whether it’s a message or visual idea. Seeing theater is my university and the class isn’t teaching me anything. I’m feeling like withdrawing from this semester.
There is hope, I believe. Seeing three shows this weekend, I was challenged in a way that I hadn’t in a long time. But I need more to sustain.