As a senior stage manager I have been thinking a lot about what I’m going to do after college, what’s my next step? Where do I want to go? The logical answer and the one most people seem to expect out of me is New York, that is want to go to New York. But in all honesty I don’t, not because I don’t like the theatre there, not because I don’t think it would be a good experience but simply because I really don’t want to live in New York.
I was asked this very question of “Where are you going after graduation?” last night by a stage manager who is also a graduate of BU’s program. Immediately after the question, and before I could answer, she said, “New York?” To her disappointment or confusion, I said, “No.” As a Stage Manager she seemed slightly disappointed, she went there herself when she graduated and sees a value in going there and working and figuring New York out. So do I, there is a lot to be gained and learned from going to New York and trying to make it, but as I told her, I just don’t want to live there. I’m not going to happy there and I know that; throughout my childhood I went to NYC for trips and event, and in my college search I carefully considered a few schools in New York. Throughout those visits and those times there was just the feeling that I would not like living here, I could but it wouldn’t make me happy or be fulfilling in the way I think it should be. Many people who I’ve told this to don’t seem to consider this a good enough reason not to go to what many consider the “theatre capital of the US.” And maybe it isn’t.
Since our class Tuesday before Thanksgiving, in which we had the opportunity to talk to Diane Ragsdale about her book Outrageous Fortune, I’ve been thinking a lot about New York and why I don’t want to go there. In the conversations my class had we talked a lot about New York and the theatre system, how the two are broken in need of repair and how do we do that, what is the value of NYC, and does it need more artists. For the most part I think New York theatre is great, it’s a great place to take kids to introduce them to theatre through the very block buster shows that I’m sometimes against, it’s a great place to go as an adult to see theatre as well, but at the same time I don’t like it. New York, as our class discussed, has gotten very broad, the stories that we seem to be telling there are general and overarching, many lack the impact and meaning that I want theatre to have. I like theatre that has a strong connection with its audience and speaks directly to the community it is in and preforming for. So in a way a do think New York Theatre is broken. Do I want to be involved in the fixing of this system? No. As one of my classmates pointed out, “New York needs to and will fix itself, “and I agree with that.
Throughout this conversation, the “small theatre scene” and the idea of other theatre models came-up a few times, as well as Scott Walter and the rural arts movement, and Michael Rhode and Sojourn Theatre. All of these ideas interested me. After spending some time looking up what the rural arts movement, Sojourn Theatre, and spending so much time this semester learning about Cornerstone Theatre Company and the collaboration they often do for my final project, this type of theatre is definitely the type of theatre I want to be involved in and like.
So when you get down to it these are also reasons I don’t want to go to New York when I graduate as well. I like commercial theatre and the experimental theatre you can find there, but more importantly, I like theatre that actively engages and services the community in which the theatre artists work. I like it when I feel that as theatre artists I am involved not only in my theatre community but also in the one that sees the shows and lives in the area, and that I’m having an impact on their lives. Oh and I also don’t want to live in New York City right now. Who knows maybe one day I will, but for now I’ll probably in end up in the “small theatre” world, whatever that may mean, and I’m happy with that.