PXP asks a BIG question of a playwright.
WHAT IS THEATRE'S RESPONSIBILITY?
Producers, playwrights, directors, actors must listen to the culture around them and reflect that in their work. Theater is work of the NOW. To succeed it must be in the moment. To do the stories that we reflect must ask us to question the choices of today in creative inventive ways. Theatrical ways. Theatrical can be all live, can have video components, can be full of dreaming. This is already happening. It's reflected on the stages of theaters doing daring work, site-specifically, in warehouses, in swimming pools, on rooftops (and that is the direction we are going in this new way of working where we are NOT tied down to spaces).
To be now is to dream.
Not to be "ripped from the headlines" but to re-imagine how to tell the stories that will affect our audience and put THEM on stage. The audience should feel they see themselves, like it or not sometimes :), on stage. That means DIVERSITY. No one walks down a street and only sees one kind of person or character -
be clear and mindful of the worlds you create.
As a playwright is it my responsibility to create new roles for actors to be able to dive into, for directors to challenge themselves to direct but I choose my ideas - every single one - by listening to those around me. What are the concerns in the world that feel personal to me? That I can can build upon that conversation and take an audience on a journey. Listening also means all theaters of all sizes MUST WORK TOGETHER. In Chicago they do that so well. If larger theaters had smaller companies they were working with think how much more they could do! On either side. The days of the division between Broadway, Off Broadway and indie are no longer truly relevant for the stories that audiences are looking for. Listen to those challenging the way things have worked before. Every work a theatre artist does should pave way for new opportunities for those behind us - must pave trails. We are all racing - let's, as my race car pop would say :) "draft" each other in. My career has been been made by those standing up and saying I believe in Crystal's play and her work.
We must do this for one another.
Theater must be a forum of the now, to question what is going on now in our world globally - do do so through a story taking place in a certain space and time - is to reach someone. Those audiences must be respected and given work that risks with great purpose, determination, and passion. Tickets must become affordable as well. To sit in a house of all theater artists watching my work is not the goal. The goal is to reach others who need - for one moment of their lives - to be in a place where they can escape the world and engage with their ideas of their lives. Question where they are going and find hope in the possibilities. Listen to who your audience is … they are walking by you right now - all ages - all different - how can you reach out and create a piece that is meaningful for them?
- Crystal Skillman Playwright