It seems like every year, there is less and less room for new things. Less room for new people and ideas. LA is sewn up. I know this. Companies, studios and ensembles, all perfectly content with the members they have, fortified against infiltration by unions, security personnel, and alarm systems.
Breaking in is hard to do.
In the early days of film and theatre, millions flocked to the wells of stardom. Armed with a plucky smile and a two-step, people simply walked on set, walked into the theatre and informed their adjudicators that they were it. The idea was that if someone was good and insistent enough to stalk the casting director or haunt the stage door, eventually they would get a break. I happen to think highly of this practice because it relies solely on persistence and talent, leaving politics and other influence at the door.
But it doesn’t work like that anymore.
The very infrastructure of entertainment is against us. One must now have the necessary paperwork, representation and “look.” One must climb the long-worn ranks of exposure to achieve something that is ultimately less about art than ego. Many people do this. In Hollywood, most people do this. But, for however many talentless hacks there are (hacks, I might add, who are oft rewarded by the wonders of reality television) there are also talented people doing interesting things. Or, trying to.
You could of course argue that, with the self-marketing made possible by new technology, it has never been easier to be creative, to make something independent and to share it with the world. This is as true for film as it is dastardly for theatre. And because most contemporary theatre is trying to be as close to film as possible (just when we should be heading in the opposite direction) the infrastructure dilemma applies to both.
It is hard to create. It is hard to create something worth creating. It is harder still to do it, and share it, in a time of extreme apathy, desensitization, and technology-enabled snobbery. And it’s hard to get started when no one wants to help you or cares what you’re doing or knows who you are.
But I happen to think that it’s the peons, not the movie stars who create the things worth seeing.
We may be broke and unknown, but we’ve still got a mean two-step, so here’s hoping.
About the Author: Jen Davis is a stranger in a strange land. Following a life of wandering and re-location(where am i? WHO AM I?) she made a decisive (drunken) decision to forsake all things holy and move to Southern California. She recently received her BA in Theatre while narrowly avoiding a minor in philosophy. Jen has staged plays, mimes, sword fights, and cakewalks throughout the Pacific Northwest, most recently as Associate Artistic Director of Toy Boat Theatre Company. She seeks to revitalize and re-establish the theatre as a necessary part of American life through producing, writing, and generally crying out to anyone who will listen. Her marketable skills include learning to juggle, baking, and persistence.