Teresa’s Weekly Update: Inheritance Edition

by Teresa Eyring

in Weekly Update

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What kind of theatre will the next generation inherit?

This was a recurring question as I continued my travels from the previous week, visiting theatres in Minneapolis, the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Fe. I saw the inspiring potential of that next generation manifested in the work of Up Next, an organization that engages teens with Bay Area theatre. I also visited with Berkeley Rep’s Teen Council—members of which attended the past two TCG National Conferences—and learned about a compelling arts advocacy day they held on February 12. While theatre’s power to touch and transform lives spans all ages, there is something uniquely persuasive about hearing teens testify why theatre matters.

The unsettling uncertainty of the world these teens will inherit was also very much on my mind as I watched Theater Grottesco’s STORM, a new collaboration with the Out of Context Orchestra. The production deals with the imminent dangers of climate change and inspired an animated community discussion. I was reminded of the recent Kansas City Star interview with the Civilians concerning their global warming play, The Great Immensity. In that interview, Steve Cosson shared his experience of working closely with climatologists, and his growing sense of urgency:

“I would say I’m seriously concerned,” he said. “I think much of what I learned was pretty bad news and I think part of the process of doing this was trying to figure out if there’s a way to be hopeful and still work for change necessary knowing the harsh reality of how severe the problems are.”

This swiftly approaching environmental reckoning is a part of larger political and economic changes sweeping across borders. To meet these challenges, this next generation will need to find means of support and connection that also transcend old divisions. To that end, we’ve extended the deadline of our World Theatre Day essay contest, Generation without Borders, to March 9. Some of these essays will be published in American Theatre magazine and shared on the TCG Circle, and I strongly encourage you to share this call to action with theatre-makers under 30 and current students.

While these challenges may be daunting, the breadth, depth and daring of the work of theatres across this country give me a clear-eyed hope. Thank you to everyone on the boards and staff of the theatres I visited or met with, including American Conservatory Theater, Aurora Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Central Works, the Children’s Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Magic Theatre, Shotgun Players, Theater Grottesco, Up Next and the Z Space Studio. I hope to return soon!

  • habitableworld

    I must say as an occasional op-ed writer, I understand the desperate need for issues discussion, and especially news, simple truth.  TV may be the best medium ever for lying, for telling the as-if-true.  Now that TV news is corporate owned, and run by entertainers, it avoids truths: weather anchors say, “What unusual weather we’ve had” without ever mention any cause beyond El Nino.  
              BUT as a lit teacher for three decades, especially Shakespeare, Moliere, and Pirandello (and Goldoni and Giordano Bruno)  I can see how rhetoric has replaced lit in both American poetry and drama, to the detriment of both.  What is any play of Moliere about?  Well, there are issues in the background–the education of women, the hypocrisy of the religious, etc–but the plays are about how small or big humans can be.  Sometimes they’re adapted from Plautus, to boot–as are a couple of Shakespeare’s. What are Chaucer’s tales about?  The Pardoner’s Tale certainly satirizes the ancestor of chemistry, but moreso, fraudsters.
             As for American poetry, we’re still stuck in the Romantic Era, poetry about the poet.  Ho-hum.  American poets literally kill themselves trying to be interesting.
    What does Chaucer say about himself?  He’s a little fat man riding a horse, who tells the worst of the Canterbury Tales.  (By the way, Horace too was a little fat man.)