Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, Tim Errickson.
Some people have heard me bitch about this issue before, so I apologize in advance. Treat this like a spoiler alert…Stop reading here if you don’t want to hear the screed.
My biggest pet peeve about how OOB defines itself is not the idea of Off-Off-Broadway vs. Indie Theatre (both are acceptable to me) but rather when people say “theatre at this level”. What level are you talking about? And what are you measuring and comparing? Talent level? Entertainment factor? Level of thoughts provoked? All bullshit.
What really defines the OOB/Indie companies (see how I did that) is size. We work in 99 seat and under houses. That’s it. So let’s retire the phrase “theatre at this level”. It imparts the inferiority that Kirk Bromley was originally talking about with the Off-Off tag. We are “theatre of this size”, and a lot of that is by choice. Think about it…if you had more money, would you do your show in a larger house (off-bway 400 seater for example), OR pay everybody (including yourself), buy some advertising and more perfs and keep your show in a 99 seater? I would absolutely go for the latter, because the theatre I make is 99 seat, intimate type stuff. You wouldn’t fuck that up just so you could call yourself something else, right?
But the “level” issue again makes the work we do seem like the minor leagues or like student productions not worthy of the public and the critical community’s attention. Commercial theatre/tourist theatre is a totally different fucking animal. Are they shooting for the same demographic? No. Are they spending the same amount of money? No. Are they even using the same methods? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I’ve almost just convinced myself that Indie theatre is a better way to go, just so as to acknowledge that Commercial/Tourist Theatre is different than what we do.
And sorry if you thought I knew the meaning of life…you must be new here.