When Theresa Rebeck writes about the lack of solid structure she sees in young playwrights, the conversation revolves around how it's really about why her plays aren't being well-received or something. When Roland Tec(o) accuses the O'Neill of being a rigged game, it's really about jealousy and sour grapes. When the O'Neill responds, it's really about covering their ass. When I write about the representation of black playwrights, it's really just a plea for more attention. Everyone's motives are questionable and we basically believe the absolute worst of each other. I'd say it's just out here in the blogosphere, but we all know how it is when we meet in the lobby, at the bar after the show, three blocks away from the theatre. (And that's even more gossip, isn't it?) The default is to not take anyone at face value. How do we build communities like that?Hm. Interestingly enough, it was that very post that 99 is responding to that I got a lot of private pushback from people on via e-mail. One e-mailer whom I respect greatly said that the theatrosphere was, in fact, too credulous, at least w/r/t non-NYTimes theatre coverage.
But that's a conversation for another day... back to what 99 is talking about... I'm of two minds. On the one hand, I have experienced (and perpetuated) the very behaviors he's talking about here. I'll cop to it. We've all done it. We've all played our cards too close to the vest out of fear of... something. We've all approached another member of the community with suspicion and consciously avoided grappling with what they're saying (or doing) as artists as a result etc.
In my experience this comes up more the more resources are at stake. I don't feel particularly inclined to be suspicious towards, say, Gus or Jimmy Comtois or Don Hall or any of the other people sweating it out in the sub-99 world. But looking back over the past couple of months... I see in my posts an almost immediate suspicion the more $$$ or the more success someone or some institution has. I want to be open about this because I think it's important as a blogger to check in with yourself publicly as a way of maintaining some form of real-time integrity. No one's mind is truly open, we all have out own preferences and biases. Teresa Rebeck is a successful playwright, so I get more suspicious of her advocacy being self-serving than I do 99's posts advocacy for more black theatre. Similarly, the O'Neill is a large institution and Roland Tec is an individual artist, so I'm dispositionally inclined so to side with the latter over the former.
I don't, in other words, assume bad faith on the part of my peers. This is the place where I think 99 is maybe being a little over-broad. And I genuinely think that in the indie theatre world, there's a lot of open-mindedness and support to be found, a lot of people who genuinely want each other to succeed and are willing to help each other out. It may in fact be the case that we're too "supportive" and don't discuss each other's work frankly enough (in private, that is, at the mythical bar around the corner from the show... I have no desire to discuss my friends' work on my blog without express permission on their part, my friendships are important to me).