by Guillermo Verdecchia
ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A MEMBER OF ACTR/ARTC?
WHAT'S A NICE THEATRE-MAKER LIKE ME DOING IN AN ASSOCIATION LIKE THIS?
I found ACTR/ARTC by accident, pottering about the Internet --I don't surf-- some years ago. Denis Salter asked me to serve as a board member and I agreed to put my name forward as a candidate because I was flattered by the invitation. And because I was curious about and intrigued by this organization.
From my (probably jaundiced) perspective, hardly anyone in English Canada was interested in theatre, especially the domestic variety. That "hardly anyone" included newspaper reviewers, most artistic directors of theatres, actors, writers, directors, film-makers, and others, such as teachers and students of drama and literature, who one might reasonably expect to evince some interest in the form. From my (most likely cynical) perspective, those listed above were interested in: careers, promotions, their own cleverness, television, and any number of things other than that marginal activity, theatre.
But at ACTR/ARTC I seemed to have encountered a group of people who
not only knew Canadian theatre, but who also appeared to be genuinely interested
in it, even -- dare I say -- passionate about it. It occurred to me that
I had stumbled across a group of potential allies. And in an era of economic,
spiritual, intellectual, and civic downsizing, allies were needed.
I think there can be much more of a conversation between academics and artists (if you'll allow the crude binary distinction). I think that there can be a much more fluid, open, and on-going relationship between the universities and the professional artist. Too often it seems to me, encounters between academics and artists (if you will excuse the crude binary distinction) are characterised, if not by hostility, then at least by wariness and suspicion.
Having now met many of You in person, I can I can safely report to my colleagues that You are -- generally speaking -- and I know it's not safe to generalise -- and perhaps my perspective is naive [naïveté and cynicism live side by each in my fractured person] -- You are, well ... a lot like Us ... reasonable, interesting, knowledgeable, and not over-paid, parasitic, superannuated, po-mo meanies.
But beyond feeling good about having met each other, what are we going to do? What do we want from each other? How will we become allies? Can ACTR/ARTC facilitate an exchange between artist/practitioners, academics, and students?
Here are some very preliminary possibilities: Courses could be designed around the work of a local theatre company or artist, or a specific production. Many playwrights would like to write for large casts and larger stages such as are sometimes available in universities, but they don't know where to go, who to speak to, where to begin. Perhaps ACTR/ARTC could act as a contact, an information centre. Perhaps we might probe some of the (thorny?) questions regarding theory and practice by putting theoreticians and practitioners in the same room -- and seeing who comes out alive.
Obviously, I have only the foggiest idea what I'm doing in ACTR/ARTC. I'm still very curious and intrigued by the possibilities. You tell me. What do academics (really) want (from artists)?
Return to the Home page / Retour à la page d'accueil