Thursday, November 18, 2010

Theatrical Quote of the Day

As I was flying 40,000 feet in the air reading my "American Theatre" magazine (November issue) I came across an interesting quote from an article on Michael John Garces, Artistic Director of Cornerstone Theatre Company, where he says:

"Any theatre that has a result in mind is not having a conversation. The future of the form in these changing times is really about plunging into the unknown and new contexts. We're at a point where those risks are going to have to be taken. The future doesn't lie in the status quo"

Interesting, huh?! It immediately made me stop and want to talk about it; however, on my flight from Toronto to New York City there was no one in the seat next to me, not that they would want to discuss the topic anyway, so I pose it to you, my friends. What do you think (particularly about the results vs converstion aspect)?

Let's chat.

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Read the full article here


  1. What if the result my company has in mind is the conversation, or greater conversation? Or greater connection, more of a bond with my community?

    I think it all depends on what he meant by "result." What is this "result," and why is it automatically a bad thing?

    Having gone all semantic there, I will say this. When my company puts on a show, the goal is to tell a good story well, and the result we have in mind is engaging the audience, encouraging them to interact and sharing stories back and forth with one another.

  2. That was sort-of my initial reaction as well. I immediately thought: why does it have to be an either or situation? can't you seek results and conversation?

    But then as I was sitting there having this conversation with myself I started to play devil's advocate (with myself) and I thought maybe the fact that because theatre for a long time has been, generally speaking, a results oriented medium (we present a "finshed" product to an audience) that ultimately conversation is sacrificed without us even really being aware of if.

    Maybe that's just a bunch of "what if's" and myself being bored and philosophical on a mundance flight but there it is.

    Just before the quote, the article also says that "he says they're obsessing on final results at the cost of investigation".

    And by "they" I'm guessing he means "theatre's".


  3. I really love this quote and I think it's quite fitting that you found it in that issue of American Theatre. If you look at pgs 44-45, you'll find our production of "The Glass Menagerie" featured. And Glass was certainly a risk, we are located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Tennessee Williams is taken seriously here! Most of our audience came in expecting to see a "traditional" set complete with a fire escape, but instead they were greeted with acrylic and glass. However, we've made it our mission since the beginning to have the right to take risks and our audiences loved the production. I think the main point Garces is trying to make is theatres often make the mistake of catering to what they think the audiences will like, rather than creating a product they are proud to present.

    --Megan Mabry
    Publicity and Marketing
    Triad Stage, Greensboro NC

  4. Seems like the use of the phrase 'result in mind' means you're closing yourself off to what actually happens. And if you're not responding to what happens you're not actually having a conversation. So in that respect it makes sense.

    But taking a risk, having a result in mind and having a conversation seem to be three completely different things to me. In fact the more I look at it, I'm not even sure what he's trying to say exactly.

    Theaters shouldn't think about results?
    Theaters should be having conversations?
    Theaters should embrace the unknown?
    Theaters should take more risks?
    Theater shouldn't worry about the status quo?

    Perhaps he's saying all that.

    As for "they're obsessing on final results at the cost of investigation."

    Wouldn't looking at results be part OF investigation?

    And what results is he talking about? Strictly artistic? Monetary?

    I suppose I'd have to read the whole thing for more context.

    Perhaps I'm a bit to simple minded for all that in one paragraph. =)


  5. For my money, the concern with results seems to be code for something like "manipulation." You can't MAKE your audience have a given reaction. People aren't that predictable; we aren't machinery, or if we are, the machinery's too complicated to control.

  6. the quote is nuts. Either your attempting to create abstract art and your sphere of influence tells you your amazing! or the act of creating art is the ability to tell- and re-tell the standard 36 plots lines and get total strangers pay a ticket to take the risk that what they are about to see can create the theater experience they have grown up with and entertain them. (I prefer the later)

  7. The main idea I get from "results" in context to the article is that he is saying that many theatres/theatre companies are more focused on the statistical results of a production rather than in seeking a conversation with its community. ie. how many tickets will this production show? will this be popular? will our subscriber base like it, etc?

    For example, a theatre company programs a particular show because they are fairly certain that this particular show will have audiences pouring into the theatre in droves, does this mean they have sacrificed investigation or conversation?

    Or, does this mean they are listening and engaging with their community?

    (ps...I will post the full article in a link in the body of the initial post)