I have been attending, avoiding, appreciating, despising, embracing, and coming to terms with the Theater Scene in Seattle for the past 20 years. While much has changed in that time, much has remained the same. The scene still struggles to provide an adequate economy to employ a healthy number of artists who proudly call this their home and don’t need to look elsewhere for work. It struggles to be a fertile breeding ground for new work and talent that would make it a destination for theater lovers and practitioners from around the world rather than a way-station. It struggles to grow its audience and have the theater that is done here enter the mainstream cultural dialogue of the city.
Obviously, some of these issues are an inherent challenge of producing live theater in the world today and Seattle shouldn’t be singled out as somehow failing in these areas more than any other city. Yet, I don’t want to have to continue to travel to see some of the best theater there is. With the venues this city has and the artistic talent available, there is no reason why Seattle can’t be the place where others come to see the best there is.
One of the things any healthy arts community needs is active dialogue. Seattle theater coverage has always been spotty at best. Even when the Weekly, the PI the Stranger and the Times were all running regular reviews in their print editions, the restrictions of space rarely allowed for the critique of work to enter a level that could engage further discussion about the quality of the work in the city in general. Now that most of the coverage is more online than in print, the general readership of the city is not even noticing that theater is happening here, let alone whether it is good or bad. While reviews are important, the aim of most coverage that happens seems to be too limited in scope. Limiting the discussion of a play to recounting the event and suggesting whether its worth going to see the show or not, is only part of the job of criticism. Any decent show that is put on is an opportunity to discuss why we go to theater, what we want from it, what is succeeding, what is missing and what we would like to see in the future.
My hope is to create a forum where a vibrant dialogue about our theater scene can begin. Here is what you can expect from this blog and how you can participate :
- Seattle Theater Scene will provide an ongoing series of essays about the current state of the art of live theater in Seattle.
- Seattle Theater Scene will reach out to its readers and ask for comments and feedback so the site is a dialogue and not a monologue.
- Seattle Theater Scene will provide lengthy in-depth reviews of plays produced in Seattle that will aim to discuss the work in a way that can in turn inspire and inform future work in the city.
- Seattle Theater Scene will engage other theater writers and critics in the city by writing about and commenting on their reviews, articles, blogs, etc.
- Seattle Theater Scene will happily link to and promote any reviews, articles, blogs that contribute to the a greater discussion about theater and its relevance to the residents of our city.
- Seattle Theater Scene will accept guest articles and blogs that share the aims of this site.
To get things started, let me know what you think. What would you like from this site? What topics about our theater scene should be discussed more broadly that are not currently part of the larger dialogue?
I look forward to engaging with all of you.
PS - Keep posted, I will have a review of Collektor’s production of Sam Shepard’s A LIE OF THE MIND very soon.