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The Toxic Gentleness of the American Theater

This great article, penned by Clayton Fox, covers the cratering of the American Theater. The final nail in the proverbial coffin provided by a combination of the pandemic and people who want to "work" in the theater . . . but not really.

This essay connects to my apprenticeship into the film industry begun in 1983. Worked as a dancer in New York City from about 1979 through parts of 1984. However, after turning 26, wanted to switch to toiling behind the camera.

The next several years were a difficult and exhausting time as I learned to sweep up sound stages at midnight; stare down teamsters; and dispose of trash at 3am. Learned HOW to produce, and HOW to deal with the genuinely creative . . . and the delusionally creative.

Bringing creative product to the public is an ethereal undertaking. There is no degree, correspondence course, or night school class that teaches a how-to produce. There is nothing better than DOING production.

Mister Combs, my World History teacher sophomore year in high school is someone I generally disliked for the entire school year. Could actually say I hated him. Found his class mundane, and his enthusiasm for it lacking. But took one life lesson from it that stayed with me forever. He wrote "Learning is ___________" on the blackboard. He was looking for one word.

One word.

Quizzed the entire class of stupid 15-year-olds. No one got it.

Learning is DOING.

Clayton Fox's brilliant takedown of the theatrical art of production is disturbing. A tidal wave of woke and entitled activists started using the boards as a launching point for statement and self-satisfaction. None of them, as pointed out, learned how to set a spotlight; clean a restroom (Gasp!); or make a payroll. No. They were/are all too busy setting their sights on Whitey and slipping lines into plays that have nothing to do with entertaining an audience, some of who(m) actually paid to be entertained.

Like film production, theater is a skill/job desired by many but obtained by few. If, like Yours truly, you are fortunate enough to enjoy a multi-decade career of interesting projects, talented co-workers, and, yes, in some cases, lotsa dough, consider your life a success.

If, however, it is viewed with such narcissistic contempt as those who no longer feel "The show must go on," because they feel slighted, emotionally bereft, threatened by self-inflicted boogeymen, or wronged by deeds done more than one hundred years ago, it will pass into the annals of history as something once great, but no longer sustainable due to a lack of character, effort, and selflessness.

You want guarantees? You want to be treated like a hot-house flower? You want apologists stroking your precious ego?

Go ply your self-indulgent skill set somewhere else.

Stop ruining the theater.

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