Welcome to Theater Makers Lab. Our purpose is to connect theater makers from all disciplines for honest discussions and opportunities to build new relationships and capacity in our community, with diversity at the inception – not as an afterthought.
The COVID years have decimated audiences, frustrated producers and otherwise disrupted theater making. Let’s face it though, before COVID, audiences were dwindling. Large houses and small were all struggling to build a new audience and will continue to struggle because the old model has stumbled. Theaters have relied upon a formula of catering to audiences who love to be ‘entertained’ and have built their models on providing retreads of popular shows. This is true of professional companies as well as community theaters.
We believe that there is an underserved audience for theater. Theaters everywhere are writing DEI policies to make their organizations align with the ‘right thing to do’ but many are completely missing the point of the exercise. To be diverse and equitable and inclusive, a season needs to reflect not only that your internal principles are compliant with DEI but that it is seeking a diverse audience that will not show up for the 1000th production of ‘Clue’ or ‘Oklahoma’ even if it features BIPOC performers. Audiences need to see and hear THEIR stories onstage. We believe too, that, in general audiences are eager to have theater options that provoke, inspire and surprise them as well as entertain.
There are talented playwrights all over CT who struggle to get their work onstage. Not every playwright is writing 10-minute plays for festivals, nor does participation in these festivals result in very many full length shows by these playwrights being produced. Often, a playwright will take the path of self-producing their work – which is fine for those with resources but a huge limitation for most. We want to provide the best platform for playwrights to produce their work with the support they need.
There is also a normalization of expecting performers and crew to volunteer for no pay. It is time to have a real conversation about the level of exploitation we are comfortable with.
Right now, at this moment, theater makers are driven like never before to tell stories, to create new, to reinvent, bringing in new energy, reinvigorating the human part of our selves to connect, to laugh, to cry.
These are just some of the broader topics that are being discussed along with projects we are working on, resources we are looking for, how to get a venue to produce in that is not just collecting at the door – but actively engaged in our mutual success. We hope you will bring your own thoughts and ideas and projects and stories and dreams on a regular basis and be the support we all need to flourish.