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An Observation About Directing Theatre in the Bay Area

January 14, 2010

As in many other parts of the country, being a theatre professional in the Bay Area isn't easy. But it strikes me that theatre directors have a particularly tough time of it here.

The main issue they have to contend with that's specific to the Bay Area (although may also be the case elsewhere) is a lack of medium-sized venues to scale up their craft. There are a ton of small spaces and a few big ones. But very little in between to help blossoming directors make the transition onto larger stages.

Then there are plenty of other factors from finding money to developing audiences that make doing the job of a theatre director hard just about anywhere. One thing that's struck me lately is that directors are willing to take on any project just to work, even if the project doesn't really suit them. This invariably leads to an end product that, if they're lucky, works out fine, but more often than not, doesn't reflect their talent as a director.

The most professionally satisfying route to working as a theatre director in the Bay Area (though the most slow-burning and by no means the most lucrative -- if any theatre job could even be called lucrative, that is) is probably not the business of being a hired gun, unless the director is at the point in their career when they have completely free reign to choose the work that they want to do. It's still very much a case of assembling a group of like-minded souls and creating work for a self-styled company, whether that be original plays or hand-picked work by other writers.

2 Comments:

  • Amen, and amen. *sigh*

    By Blogger Dan Wilson, At January 14, 2010 at 2:10 PM  

  • There used to be more mid-sized spaces in SF that were affordable to rent by independent theater artists and companies. When the dot.com boom happened, those large spaces became prime real estate and many theater as well as beautiful dance spaces were lost. My company considered forming a collective with other companies to save one, but no one was in a position to take on real estate and the administrative issues of running a space.

    By Blogger E. Hunter Spreen, At January 15, 2010 at 6:16 PM  

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