Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Never Interview After a Road Trip

By Russ Bickerstaff
Google+ Pinterest Print

As appealing as the life of a traveling artist seems to me, I’d never really be able to pull it off. Coming from a childhood of virtual poverty, I have very little experience traveling. I’ve never really been able to communicate all that coherently during or within 24 hours after returning from a road trip. And yet, when Michael Cotey said he wanted to talk about his new theatre company at Alterra On the Lake during the opening week of Summerfest right after I had returned from a four-day, three night excursion to Spring Green to cover the APT, I agreed. Much to my surprise, I felt vaguely coherent for the conversation. I may not have had any tangible concept of time, but there’s enough recorded audio from the conversation to suggest that I had relatively little difficulty completing sentences.  

My conversation with the Youngblood Theatre co-founder lasted much longer than the usual half hour interview, As a result of a conversation that touched on a little bit of everything involved in the subject of theatre in Milwaukee, I feel the need to explain a few things to no one in particular for no specific reason:

--It may seem as though I’m particularly harsh on talent from out of town. Honestly, whether an actor is from Milwaukee, Chicago New York or wherever doesn’t matter to me.

--As much as I’d like to, I can’t cover every show by every company equally. There just isn’t time.

--The office end of the business seems particularly bewildering to me when the numbers get big. Black is red. Red is black and the whole world is turvy-topsy. So stop asking about money. I stopped trying to figure out local arts groups when I was working in the sales office of the Milwaukee Symphony...the world of non-profit arts groups is a very strange one indeed . . . shadowy numbers lurk around every corner shrugging in casual confusion from the edge of every ledger . . .

--It’s a bit frustrating when out of town actors are hired for jobs that local actors could do just as well . . . and there needs to be a bigger support system for local actors developing the kind of stage experience that will develop talent unique to Milwaukee.

--There are an increasing number of theatre companies establishing themselves (a number of them starting-up this summer) with the interest of providing opportunities to emerging talent. This is very reassuring.

A full preview of Youngblood’s season appears in the July 9th issue of the Shepherd-Express. Excerpted transcripts appear here next week. .  

Log in to use your Facebook account with
Express Milwaukee

Login With Facebook Account