Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Allegory of the Elephant

So I must make a karmic apology to Greenville, SC, for any connotation I may have given that it was some kind of industrial wasteland. I was in the industrial area yesterday but this evening went downtown where they have a lovely riverside park with a beautiful pavilion where live music was playing (below is a picture that doesn't really do the area justice). The downtown center had a dozen or so nice restaurants and cool looking shops and three -- three! -- live performance venues within walking distance. Turns out that tomorrow night I could catch "Taming of the Shrew" or "Fiddler on the Roof" or a Kenny G concert. And the central city has about 60,000 people and the total population for the metropolitan area is about 400,000. It's something Richmond city planners might want to check out and take note of...

Also, many thanks to Joe Pabst for his thoughtful comments in response to my "Directions" post below. And Ms. Angie, I'm sorry we must part ways on Entertainment Weekly. I admit it's a guilty pleasure but I also don't know of a better place to go for a decent broad spectrum look at what's happening in all genres. For depth, I'll go to places like the New Yorker, but for breadth, gimme EW. They're also unrepentant fans of quality television like "Arrested Development" (alas, in vain) and "Lost" (thankfully, not in vain). I like that in a magazine.


Angelika HausFrauSki said...

Oh, it's certainly not without merit. There's a reason I keep subscribing to it.

It's just one of those zines that have some good things about them that keep me coming back, but ultimately I find myself throwing it in disgust and feeling a little empty inside when I get to the end.

Perhaps I'm just too sensitive. :)

This doesn't mean we can't be friends! :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dave, for mentioning my previous comment. Another comment by an anonymous poster agreed with most of my points. Unfortunately, I have some concerns about a couple of his/hers/theirs.

-- "To survive in that atmosphere [NY], an actor must work tirelessly to improve their skills, looks, etc."

There are a few important ingredients missing from this recipe for theatrical success.

1. NATURAL TALENT. I firmly believe that some people are born with certain abilities that cannot be learned. One can spend a fortune on classes, hairstyles, clothes, even plastic surgery. They may appear professional, they may look good, but they will never achieve that innate ability. I've seen some horrible, cardboard, processed performances from those with very impressive lists of training and credits.

2. LUCK. There's a lot to be said for simply being in the right place at the right time. You may find yourself auditioning first for a role and setting the bar for all others in the director's mind. Or you may be the last in a string of disappointing auditions and the director simply gives in. (Of course, the industry has done its best to limit the "luck factor" -- stars aren't discovered in drug stores anymore; they're now carefully plucked and groomed by an agency before they can even be seen at an audition.)

-- "This is something that the Richmond theater scene lacks. The same people work over and over at the same theaters, and there's a dearth of fresh blood to keep the heart of Richmond's theater vital."

If the same people work over and over again, it's really not the actor's fault. Companies offer them roles and they take them -- they're not stupid! Directors take many things into account when casting, and one is a prior working history. This exists in all worlds -- corporate, artistic, political, what have you. People like working with people they like. I have noticed that some tend to work a lot at one theatre or another, but I also think they're very talented and worthy performers. Now, if I thought the productions suffered because of it, I might be on board with this. But I always enjoy their performances -- so to me the point is somewhat moot.

-- "The average working New York actor will be stronger than the average Richmond actor, simply because of natural selection. They don't have the time to rest on their laurels that local talent so often has."

Do you mean Busier = Better?? I don't understand this statement, but it seems insulting to me. It implies that the only reason Richmond has local actors AT ALL is because they're second-rate talent who couldn't cut it with the big boys in NY. I know for a fact, that is not the case. I've worked (and successfully, mind you) in theatre all over the country, NY included. Richmond has some of the finest talent I've ever had the privilege to work with. I've seen and performed in some AMAZING work in this town. And what KEEPS ME HERE is the desire to continue Richmond's strong tradition of theatrical excellence. I don't mean that to sound egotistical, merely to express that I have developed an emotional bond to the theatres, fellow actors and patrons in this town. I want to see the art of theatre thrive in this community, and if I can in any way contribute to its survival, I will gladly do so.

I don't know many who have the privilege to rest on their laurels. If they're not working on a show, it's not because they don't WANT to... they just didn't get cast. Most find financial challenges necessitate the securing of a "real" job, which may limit their theatrical opportunities. Balancing the two is never restful, and often EXHAUSTING!

While I could move anywhere and continue to perform, I choose to stay here because I enjoy it immensely. As far as quality, I find I am far more comfortable with my performances when I don't HAVE to do it to make a living. I killed myself for years going from auditions for hemorrhoid commercials and cold medicines to a job passing out fliers dressed as a can of Gatorade, and then hopefully to a role I really cared about at night. But by then, I was exhausted and not able to do my best work. I think my work is much better when I can actually put some time, effort and energy into it!

Sorry -- I know this is long. I just had a lot on my mind.

By the way, ask Scott Wichmann (probably the hardest working man in show business) how those laurels are coming along! :-)

Joy W. said...

I think your comments were beautiful and spot on!!!!!!

JB said...

Very Well put Joe - thanks.