Friday, Jan. 1, 2010

New Years’ At The Alchemist

Another Conversation About The Future of Theatre In A Pleasant, Little Bar In Bay View

By Russ Bickerstaff
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My wife and I had arrived at the Alchemist Theatre’s Bay View Lounge in the first hour of the New Year. We’d come there straight from another party in Bay View. A song by Journey was playing when we’d gotten there. It was a generally hip atmosphere populated with a fair number of comic theatre people. Being relatively late in the evening, there was a fair amount of inebriation in the room.

I ended up in a couple of long conversations . . . I could’ve sworn that I talked with Matt Richardson for something like a quarter hour about the future of local theatre . . . off in the distance, people were dancing around to ‘80’s music. There was a prop sword involved. It was that kind of atmosphere. What the Alchemist's Aaron Kopec had hoped would be a casual New Year's Eve party had moved in a high energy direction. And tgere I am at the bar as Matt Richardson is trying to tell me about his theory for a non-profit theatre model that doesn’t rely on a Board of Directors . . . at least, that’s how I remember it. It was a very strange conversation to be having in the atmosphere. I wasn’t nearly coherent enough for the conversation—tired and bleary and up quite a bit later than I am normally and I was trying to hold a conversation about the hazy aspects of the future of local theatre.

And the more I talk with other people about these things, the more I’m convinced of one thing--The big non-profit model of local theatre with a handful of groups getting large sums of money is fine, but its ultimately unsustainable. Of course, I’m not as familiar with the way things work in offices behind the stage. The business of the arts is tricky, but I’m fairly confident that there’s a better way of doing things.

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