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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Vanity Theatre

Community theatre is a strange animal. The mission is usually something about inviting the community to participate in theatre, whether as an actor, tech person, or audience member. For people who were part of theatre in high school and did nothing more with it, it sounds like fun. Sometimes it is. Sometimes you find yourself embroiled in what I call "Vanity Theatre."

Sounds almost redundant, doesn't it? Don't you have to be a little bit vain to be involved in theatre anyway? Maybe, but that's not the point. What I mean when I say "vanity theatre" is a theatre company started by one or more people who are disgruntled with the theatre company they were working for and who decide to start their own company. It's pretty common, at least in my neck of the woods. I can list off about five theatre companies who have branched off of just one in my area.

Sometimes it's really not a problem. The new company quickly gets past the hurt feelings, establishes its own identity and moves on. That's healthy growth. Other times, the connection is as clear as the plagiarized bylaws handed out to new board members. Spend enough time there and you'll know the real reason why the company was started. By the end of tech week, the entire cast and crew of the last show I directed knew the reason the company president left his previous company.

Here's my advice: If you find yourself at a vanity company to work on a show and you find that the founders haven't moved on from their past hurts, finish up the show and walk calmly to the nearest exit. If you are one of those founders, move on. Let it go. Community theatre has enough drama on its own.

1 comment:

Loretta said...

Great work.