“People are meant to go through life two by two. ’Tain’t natural to be lonesome.” – Thornton Wilder, Our Town
What may have been true when Wilder was writing his classic look at the American community may no longer be true, if you believe Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. In his recent opinion piece for the New York Times Sunday Review, “One’s A Crowd,” Klinenberg highlights several counter-intuitive notions about the more than 32 million Americans living alone today, a rising trend already having an impact on theatre audiences.
To begin with, those who live alone “are more likely to spend time with friends and neighbors, go to restaurants and attend art classes and lectures,” writes Klinenberg. He adds that the stigma of living alone equaling loneliness has been transformed by new communications technologies, writing, “The person alone at home can digitally navigate through a world of people, information and ideas.”
In fact, far from isolating singles, these technologies “can lead to more social life, rather than to less,” as outlined by the Pew Internet & American Life Project study, Social Isolation and New Technology. The Soccer Mom and NASCAR Dad may soon be joined by the Social Media Single as a political and cultural force. After all, now even Thornton Wilder has a Facebook and Twitter account.
TCG has long been using technology to foster real world connections, and that tradition continues with our re-launched TCG Brain Bank: Where Knowledge Earns Interest. TCG Member Theatres should have recently received an invitation to register as a Knowledge Donor and/or as a Peer, a process that should take less than five minutes. Sign up to lend your expertise to others in the field or to seek guidance from one of the many knowledgeable theatre professionals in our database.
I’d also like to remind TCG Member Theatres that we’ve extended the deadline for our online Fiscal Survey 2011 to Friday, March 9. As always, the greater the response by our membership, the more fully we are able to serve you by producing an accurate, representative picture of our field. And the online reporting tools for participating theatres can provide amazing benchmarking reports for your organization!
Finally, I’d like to note with sadness the passing of Don Schoenbaum at the age of 86 in Sarasota, Florida. Don’s long career stretched from helping found Trinity Repertory Company in 1963 to serving as managing director of the Guthrie Theater for 21 years, during which time he also served as the fourth president of LORT. Don was a tireless advocate for the resident theatre movement, remarking in his 2007 address to LORT in Sarasota, when he served on the board of directors of the Asolo Repertory Theatre, “We believed we were our country’s National Theatre…We didn’t choose this profession because we thought we would get rich. We chose it because we wanted to be part of what happens on the stage.”
As Thornton Wilder wrote, “The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.” Therefore, we give our deepest gratitude for the extraordinary life of Don Schoenbaum.