Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is the world going to end in 2012?

I woke up this morning knowing exactly what I wanted to blog about this month. Was I motivated by last night’s zombie dreams? Or was it the apocalyptic play I watched a couple of days ago? Maybe the looming fears that the Mayans were right? Or was it yesterday’s rehearsal for the show about the hopeless and inevitable collapse of civilization that motivated me? Well, it is probably all of those things a little bit, and then some more…

Is the world going to end in 2012?

I don’t know, and frankly I don’t really think so. The world will change, definitely. But end? And honestly I guess I am less curious about that question and more curious about how that looming thought, idea, and nightmare changes the ways we interact with one another.

Where am I going with this? Okay so I woke up this morning thinking about the goodness of mankind, and the kindness, and these almost revolutionary actions that are springing up from our current political and social climate on a national and international scale. There are grand and obvious actions like the Occupy Movement, but there are also these small ways, in our theater communities, that we are becoming less competitive and more harmonious. Across the country I see individuals and organizations making movements towards a more amicable and sustainable theater environment. The Scenic Co-op is obviously one example of this sort of movement. We share set pieces with companies who can’t afford to purchase everything new. We recycle set pieces so we can make some small difference on the growing landfills. But we are certainly not the only ones taking these revolutionary steps.

Just a couple of examples include: Polly Carl’s HOWLROUND. The HOWLROUND is all about conversation across the nation across budgets, across race, across aesthetic. Because of HOWLROUND our community is talking to each other more than they ever have before. Another example is Vjay Matthews and Jamie Gahlon’s New Play Map, which is a map of the country and all the new work happening across the fifty states. It’s another attempt at keeping us connected and talking to each other, supporting each other. There is also Austin New Works community, a collective of Austin theater makers researching sustainability and community. Instead of fighting for a piece of the pie, lets share the pie. There are really enough slices for everyone. The list of theater makers and artists taking these actions goes on and on with TCG Exchange, The Center for Sustainability in the Arts in LA, Materials for the Arts in New York City, MECCA in Oregon to name a few… I am thrilled by these actions being taken to do away with the idea of “haves and have not’s”. People are questioning hierarchy and actively trying to support each other.

This makes me wonder, if our imminent doom weren’t right around the corner would we be playing nice? I don’t know. I don’t even know if the why matters. My suspicion is, that hard times do drive people to the next best thing. I think these difficult circumstances do motivate beautiful transitions and transformations. It’s thrilling. We are actively researching and instituting these revolutionary ideas that all focus on a “coming together.” It is beautiful, and inspiring, and it gives me hope.

Jenny Larson, Salvage Vanguard Theater/ Austin Scenic Co-op

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