Skip to main content


Death & The Theater

I was listening to a recent episode of the Tim Ferris podcast and the guest, happiness scholar Arthur C. Brooks, was discussing death meditations. And the little lightbulb in my brain turned on with the thought, "We need to talk more about death in theaters." I know, I know, that seems like an illogical statement because it feels like we're always talking about the death of theater. This whole summer has been filled with articles and op-eds from across the country about how large regional theaters are dying in major cities. But that's not the kind of death Brooks was talking about, and in reality, it isn't death these articles are complaining about, either: they are trying to stay alive in a “E’s just resting” fashion, to find some kind of life-support for the theaters, to keep them going, receive new money from new audiences or donors, new shows, new gimmicks to draw more or different people in the door. Anything to keep from dying. We don't talk about death
Recent posts

What constitutes a pro?

Director and cast of "Othello," Deep Dish Theater, 2011, Chapel Hill One of the questions that comes up over and over in my work--supporting both theater and other arts genres--is the idea of the "professional." What is professional theater, or a professional writer, or painter, or poet, or dancer, or improviser?  Much like the term "success," we've conflated "professional" with "earning money." If you have earned a lot of money from your art, you are a "professional" "success."  Odd, in that we also equate the term "selling out" with "earning money" and that has a bad connotation.  I think, though, Steven Pressfield's idea of "Professional" is closer to the truth, and why so much of the Triangle theater scene is so damn good, is actually professional quality.  Pressfield talks about the Professional Mindset being one of doing the best work you're capable of at all times

Pass the Collection Plate, Please.

Various sizes of buildings, with some sort of seating arranged in rows, facing a slightly raised platform. may have curtains around the platform. people --primarily men-- take the platform to orate to the audience seated before them. A plea for donations is made at some point, either before or after the show, which may have music and will definitely have directives masked as stories on how to be a human in this day-and-age. children will be seen, maybe, but definitely not heard. the men in charge will believe they have been given a special gift for leading this particular group of people. and the people, for whatever reason, will also believe this. and this group of people will believe that their building and person and each other are completely different and somehow better than all the other exact same groups around their town/city/county/state/nation. If theater wants to be treated as church and church as theater, then both are getting exactly what they have been setting up for the p

Is your theater building a community? Or is it just putting on shows?

I asked in a Facebook post in 2011: "Theater is about connections. How do administrators facilitate this connecting? How do theaters (as an entity) ensure this connection continues happening, time and time again?" Strengthening these connections is what makes a theater resilient, what makes the theater ecosystem resilient.  Even before Covid forced theater closures, our local ecosystem lost several long-standing organizations due to life happening (people moved, people aged and retired, etc.). Add the normal ebb and flow of creatives coming together for some number of shows and then going on to reassemble in different configurations. New groups crop up, some grow, some provide fodder for a completely different way of making art.  Nonprofit theater cannot build itself in the same way as for-profit theater. The very heart of the nonprofit mission is community-mindedness. For-profit theater by its very nature will follow a path of least resistance to earning as much profit as

Cultural Cycles: 4 Questions for our Current Moment in Triangle Theater

How utterly ironic. Also, I wrote a book about DPAC. The Triangle theater ecosystem has a long and vibrant history. But as with all ecosystems there are good times and bad, birth and death, growth and loss. Theodore Reik pronounced "There are recurring cycles, ups and downs, but the course of events is essentially the same, with small variations. It has been said that history repeats itself. This is perhaps not quite correct; it merely rhymes." It feels that way now: these questions are ones that have been asked before, which is what led these artists to do the damn thing in the first place. Much of the downswing for our ecosystem started before 2020, but was, of course, exacerbated by loss of physically being able to gather. We've long said that was crucial to live theater and the pandemic only served as proof of concept. Can theater happen online? Kind of. Is it the same? Not even remotely (pun fully intended).   So here we are, asking these questions again. Where are t

An Existential Crisis Wrapped in a Wardrobe Problem

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Clothes make the human. How do you dress a body {that has birthed two humans}{that carried you through an ongoing global pandemic and more stress}{that doesn’t look/measure/feel the way you think it should feel} when you don’t have a clear picture of who you want to be? Before Instagram influencers, before Stacy and Clinton on “What Not To Wear” (and the many different iterations), and sometime after a Vogue subscription, there was the J Peterman catalog and its numerous historical and fictitious women carrying on around the world. I’ve been toying around with the idea of writing a long-form series about “Who is a J Peterman Woman.” If clothes or fashion is an expression of who you aspire to be, then “an unconventional woman of very good taste”--to quote but one of their many copy lines--has long been my guiding star.   The one thing she’s not, though, is a mother to children-at-home. They may be grown-and-gone, but they are mentioned t

My Top 4 Books in 2020 (plus all the rest)

Amazingly, I managed to hit half of my reading goal for the year! Between a new baby and a global pandemic, I am firmly in camp "making it through each day is a success." I somehow wound up with MORE books on my TBR shelf than I started with, thanks in no small part to discovering BookOutlet, plus the library's super-convenient website ordering and curbside pickup. I still adore browsing through the stacks, but between email list and Bookstagram recs, and having the entire NC Cardinal system at my fingertips, it's too easy to get the exact book I'm looking for. I can't wait to be able to be pleasantly surprised again, though. My Four Favorite Books:  1. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson . "Beyond race, class, or other factors, a powerful caste system influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie cast