Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spokies experiment: a dud

Of the dozen people Bobo contacted to ask for their participation on a Spokies panel for 2010, nearly all declined. (This would have been a panel to see local productions, make nominations and then vote.)
Some, I never heard back from. Some politely declined, pleading lack of time, going to see shows in other cities this year, but think of me next time. Some object on principle to the idea of comparing local theaters and setting them in competition against one another.
So, back to Square One.
Which has only one guy in it.
I'd like to honor local theater types more -- but I could use your suggestions. The sentiment at Inlander HQ is for an awards ceremony with trophies and yours truly as emcee.
But I'm not much of a party host, ain't no Billy Crystal, and would sort of feel like judge, jury and executioner up there (given that the Spokies are, at least at present, a one-man cottage industry).
Your thoughts?
[image: hofstra.edu]


  1. Why did the Spokesman Review quit giving awards?

    Are the people choice awards cheated with multiple votes from the same person?

    What is your criteria for a nomination? Best Actor/tress, Ensemble, Director, drama, comedy, musical. How about awards for cleanest theater? Best service? Best hospitality? Passing a Health and rodent inspection? Best atmosphere and cozy seats?

    what's important here: awarding ameteur actors against "professional" actors; or knowing the cookie you ate didn't have rats tap dancing on it 10 minutes earlier? Ever act in some of these places? If you did, you know what I'm talking about.

    What's with this Interplayers "professional" theater? How about an award for the dumbest name change? Why just artists? Why not employees? Who has better costumers then the civic? Or set desginers? Builders? I think you look at the effort of what it takes to run and have a successful theater, and awards to actors and directors just sort of become meaningless. I hear Sean Penn and Marlon Brando like awards too.

  2. Why does it have to be awards? I agree that creates compatition and resentment. How about a season end wrap up artical about what you thought was best in the season, ans maybe shorter articals by local luminaries and theatre people citing what they enjoyed. And then if the Inlander wanted to throw a party to honer everyone in the arts, great. I think you'd find a lot of people willing to participate in something like that rather than setting one theatre against another and one actor/director against another.

  3. A celebration of everyone accomplishments for the year is a wonderful idea. Everyone in our very talented theatrical community works hard to provide some of the best entertainment in the region. How nice would it be to have people from all the theatre groups together on one night just to say 'Thank You'. Thank you for working so hard at your 'professional, community, summer, improv or 'at large' Theatre (Group/Ensemble).

    It's hard to compare the theatres in the area because each one is so different from the other. Different venues, different budgets and resources. Different talent pools. All strive for the same goal and all succeed at varied levels.

    So let's applaud the effort and the passion we all share rather than diminish each others Work, which we all put so much into.

    I, for one, am proud to be a part of such a richly creative artistic community and welcome the opportunity to be able to say 'thanks' to the rest of you.

    Because you ALL, damn well deserve it.

  4. What about each venue carrying it's own category? "Best Drama produced at Civic" as well as "Best Drama Produced at IPT" and so on?? Or just a fun evening of recognition for all who put in time and effort to make Spokane "The Little City That Does Theater".

    When I moved here 9 plus years ago (from Boston by way of LA) I was amazed at the amount of theater -- QUALITY theater -- that goes on in a place the size of Spokane! Let's continue to uplift and encourage one another and stop trying to finish off those of our comrades in arts who have fallen.

  5. What's wrong with awards? Some productions are better than others and some people are better than others. They should be recignized and rewarded. I'm sorry those people who aren't going to win anything think the rest of us shouldn't win anything.

  6. I like the idea of an evening bringing all the theatres together and honoring their seasons.Awards in this town don't work.For one thing you need at least three papers and reviewers being involved to make it legit.Oh, and do we truly have a professional theatre in Spokane.Who's getting equity pay across the board because that is the only way you can call yourself professional.Only in a small town can this be such an issue.Let's all try and grow shall we,and do the best work we can regardless of the theatre we participate with.Celebrate the fact we can do it at all and really support one another.No awards!

  7. I agree with Anon 5:46, we don't have a professional theatre in Spokane. We're close with CDA Summer Theatre and were very close with ARt, but come on, when the same people are in every show in every theatre then those productions are at the same level. So I think awards are valid because it's an even playng field. I say keep the Spokies coming.

  8. Can't we all just get along? (Trivia: Who was the first to publicly ask that question?

    Awards or no awards -- who cares?

    Got to agree above though - Changing a name from Spokane Interplayers Ensemble to Interplayers Professional Theater is not only the dumbest and most insecure of moves, but perhaps one of the nastiest statements made by a Spokane theater organization to the other theaters in Spokane and Idaho. What is Interplayers weekly pay now? $50?

    Annual staff salaries alone at every theater in a 50 mile radius way outmatch the professionalism of that!

  9. FYI - The definition of "professional": Performed by persons receiving pay. No mention of scale, rates or amounts. If you got $2 for acting, you are a professional actor. Now, can we get on with bringing the ENTIRE theater community up to the next level in Spokane?

  10. When you have to call yourself professional some deep insecurity is at work.Usually if the work is excellent no proclamation is necessary.As above said pofessional means equity and not just a few ,everyone.An image change generates from good management,direction and hard work, not from a imbarassing name change."Waiting for Guffman"comes to mind.

  11. I'm sorry to say it, but I agree Interplayers' name change is a slap in the face to both every other theatre in the area and to the name of professionalism. Another nail in a nearly sealed coffin. They won't see my business or acting there again.

  12. I have it on good authority that the name change was decided upon by a majority of the Interplayers board, and not without dissenting comments being heard.
    My point? While I think the name change was ill-advised, I don't think we should jump to assume that offense was intended. The switch to "IPT" is, IMHO, not tactful and rather silly -- but also, perhaps, initiated by those whose theatrical experience is not among the most extensive. It is, after all, just a name. We should not be overeager to cast blame or find cause for further inter-theater squabbling.

  13. Actor's Equity certianly defines "Professional" as being a member of the union and/or being an Equity theatre and nothing else. Even Non-Equity actors in an Equity theatre are referred to as "Amatuer" or "Non-Professional." I don't nessassarily agree with this, but it makes some sense that a "Professional" is someone who makes their living (or A living) doing what they're doing. When the lady down the street drives her elderly friend to the doctor and that friend throws her a couple bucks, the lady does not become a professional cab driver. Are you making your living acting, or are you a member of a theatrical union? When you act are you making enough money to not work another job, but the acting gig finacailly sustains you? Then you're a professional actor, even if you have stretches of time off without work. Are you working a job you could leave tomorrow if The Seattle Rep or Portland Center Stage called? If you can't leave next week because of your current job, then you are a "Professional (Whatever you're job is)" as opposed to a "Professional Actor." That doesn't mean you're not doing profesional level work, it just means you can't call yourself a professional.

    So I guess my real question is, is Interplayers a Professional theatre? I don't know what they're paying right now, but if it isn't enough for the actor to live on while acting there, without holding another job, then that isn't a professional position and they aren't a professional theatre. There's nothing wrong with not being a professional theatre, but if you aren't one it is insulting to the other theares and to all actors, whether professional or not, to call yourself one.

  14. As a theatre lover but non-performer I have to say I find this conversation very telling. Doctors don't argue about which of them are professionals. The fact that the discussion is happening here makes it clear the definition if foggy in Spokane. I have lived in Seattle, Philly, San Diego and Houston and trust me, this argument doesn't happen there. It is clear who are the professionals. I would say that sfter reading this thread, there are few professional actors in the Inland Northwest.

  15. This discusion is driving me crazy. I'll say what most people on here believe but are to scared to say. Civic does professional level shows. 50% of the acting at Civic is as good or better than 75% of any show at any professional theatre anywhere in the country (And yes -- I'm including Broadway.) Interplayers uses many of the same people acting, but their directors, tech staff and crew aren't very good. Not their fault, they can't afford better. Forget who is professional and keep the awards, We deserve them.

  16. Bobo,

    Having known several past board members for Interplayers over the years, the ones who do not vote with invested board members don't last long for one reason or another. So... a majority board vote from a bunch of rubber stamp board members don't mean anything. I'm sure your more theatrically experienced "good authorities" at Interplayers have all the best intentions for their longevity with the theater. Now... can they say "yes" or sell out long enough to outlast the theatrical inexperience on the board? Doubtful before the theatre's long rumored demise.

  17. Are you kidding me? You people think you're as good as Broadway and "most" regional theatres. Give me a friggin' break. Wow!

  18. OK, enough already. I'm calling a halt to all the charges and countercharges about who's professional and who ain't. There is more cross-pollination among Spokane-area theaters now than at any time in recent memory, with actors, directors and techies (from time to time, occasionally) working with two or more local groups. Theater's situation in our society is not so rock-solid that we can afford to tear one another down. Let's go out, see shows, support one another, praise what's good and be generous about what's less compelling.
    No more comments will be posted on this thread.

  19. Bobo, I know this won't be posted, but I have to ask, isn't this the kind of discussion this blog was created for? Look at your own tag line at the top of the page. It says "Facts, opinions, rumors and innuendoes about the theater scene in Spokane, Washington." You wrote that. So now you're upset you're getting what you asked for?

  20. I agree with Anonymous 2:21 above, Bobo. This blog was set up so local theatre people could take swips at each other and to do it anonymously. If you didn't like it, you wouldn't allow it. I've heard you say you were changing the blog so people had to post with some kind of name or handle attached to them, but I heard you say that a year ago and it hasn't happened. And if you didn't like it, you just wouldnt approve anonymous posts. But you do. Now you've found a topic you find distasteful, so you want to cut it off. What about all those other posts in the past that we have found distasteful but you revelled in?

  21. I'd like to reply to the post above from July 28,11:19am which reads:

    "Are you kidding me? You people think you're as good as Broadway and "most" regional theatres. Give me a friggin' break. Wow!"

    I totally agree with you...or at least with what I think you are saying. I have seen Broadway shows as well as National tours in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and Sacramento. We have some amazingly talented people
    here in Spokane - some of whom have made or could, no doubt, make the leap to the "big time" (which would mean that they would be FROM Spokane and no longer IN Spokane). On the whole, however, there is no comparison.Most...note I said most and not all...of the actors appearing on the Broadway stage are gifted performers who are, if not more talented, then at least more trained and capable of meeting the demands of performing on Broadway. Many of them are triple threats...they sing, dance and act well. They possess the stamina of racehorses. And they
    must have the fortitude to deal with the competition, rejection and failure which are a big part of the professional actor's life.

    However, to paraphrase the Wizard of Oz, "we have something that they don't have." Most...note I said most and not all...of us are doing the theatre we do for love and not for money. It is not a job to us...it is a passion; and I have seen work on Spokane stages that was all the more truly moving and glorious to behold because of that passion, that heart that we can, on occasion, bring to a piece of theatre - and which is, on occasion, missing from the Broadway stage.

    We should not forget, as well, that it is our privilege as part of the world of community theatre to be the starting point - the first training ground - for just about every one of those gifted Broadway performers.

    So while it is a bit silly to compare ourselves favorably with Broadway actors, it's also okay to be justly proud of who we are and what we do - and to strive, always to do it better and better.

  22. Bobo, there are about four conversations happening on this one thread. Awards, professionalism, Interplayers' name change, Broadway vs community theatre, and probably a couple more subtextual ones I'm missing. Why not start seperate posts for each of these topics. Thay are very interesting discussions. The blog is working.

  23. I think Jean wrote beautifully if politically. But Civic is better than she's making it out to be. We are as good as any other theatre anywhere. I'm not saying we don't have a dog once in a while, but overall our shows are wonderful, I would say as good as it gets. As someone who appears 2 or 3 times a season I need to say anonymous for obvious reasons, but I'm stating what most people at Civic think.

  24. Anonymous, "This discusion is driving me crazy. I'll say what most people on here believe but are to scared to say. "; and your July 30, 1:45 comment of "...but I'm stating what most people at Civic think:

    It's interesting that you are clairvoyant enough to know what "most people" believe! How can I learn to do that? I've always wanted to know what most people think.

    By the way, there are spell check tools available to you, should you choose to use them.

  25. I know what I've heard poeple saying, and that's what they've stated.