I wish to digress to the discussion about theater spaces for a moment.
Two comments will not leave my head and they must be addressed:
The first is from Andrew Hamm who wrote:
"The idea that theatre is only legitimate or significant if thousands of dollars are spent on tech drives me nuts".
Good for you Andrew, it should drive us all nuts. That idea certainly drives me nuts. Nowhere in my statements did I say that one needs to spend lots of money on anything to produce good, interesting, and/or thought provoking theatre. But I cannot stand by and have it implied that actors are the center of the theatrical universe. Theatre is a collaborative effort. Everyone does their part regardless of how many or few elements are part of the show. When each person does their job well then a good production comes forth. I have seen bad actors rise up to good under wonderful direction. I have seen great actors put in awful performances due to bad direction or a script that just won't work no matter what you do with it. I have witnessed poor tech quality that gummed up otherwise great shows to the point of no redemption.
Certainly you are correct that there is lots of big budget schlock out there - anything by Andrew Loyd Webber for example from "Cats" on. One of the WORST shows I ever had to sit through was the touring show of "Phantom" at the Kennedy Center Opera House. If I had had to pay for the tickets I would have demanded my money back. It, like most of Webber's stuff, is all about the wonderful effects. I can appreciate a good set as much as anyone since good set building put food on our table and paid our bills for five years but I would have preferred to have a twenty minute demonstration of the set and lights and a costume parade rather than have to endure that repetitive music and totally lame script. Sorry for the tangent there...
The point is that good or bad theater can happen on any stage or venue but it is about the harmony of the collaboration.
The second comment I can't get out of my head:
Rick said "I saw more bad theatre at the Shakespeare Theatre than just about any other theatre in the country."
Really? I am curious as to your definition of "bad theatre".
I have seen some of the best productions ever at the Shakespeare Theatre. "Cyrano" was amazing with the entire audience in tears. It made the wonderful Barksdale production look like a comedy in comparison - even though Bridgewater and everyone else put in fine performances it just couldn't touch the superior quality of the Shakespeare Theatre version. "Julius Ceaser" was phenomenal with its modern social commentary thrown in with the Rodney King staged references and mix of modern and traditional costumes. In your favor, Rick, I did see a horrible "Othello" in which I left at intermission but for the most part everything I have seen there was top notch. I will admit that I have not been in the last three years but it is difficult to imagine that Michael Kahn has allowed any major dip in quality. I will make a point to see some shows there this season to compare.
Rick also said "Studio is highly overrated". Hmmm. I had a season subscription at Studio last year and thought everything I saw to be at least as good as the best shows I see here in Richmond. Not the top shows I've seen in Richmond (Syringa Tree, I Am My Own Wife, Urinetown, The Full Monty) but definitely the upper level. Perhaps part of my love of DC theatre is the lack of anger I feel when I see a pretty full house with a seemingly socially and racially mixed audience in attendance. Who knows but I am interested in more details in regards to these comments.