Is this the problem with contemporary theatre? That we longer offer service but instead try to sell our wares in the marketplace? I love the notion of theatre as service. Sometimes, when it’s going well and an audience is moved and it means something to them and they’re so grateful you turned up to share what you made, it does feel like a service. The best kind of service. But most of the time, plays seem to be of service to themselves, to the egos of the people in them and people who made them and the people who presented them. Which, you know, fair enough, sometimes we have to do things for ourselves but I love the idea of turning up somewhere, laying out the parameters of my theatrical wares and asking, “How may we be of service?”
But of course that would depend on us being a part of a culture of service. Because implied in this offer of services is a return in patronage. We turn up, offer you a play, we put it on for you, you reward us with some funds to help get us to the next location, provide some service for the next royal benefactor.
The worlds we run in now are so cash strapped, if we turned up at the YMCA on 14th St and said, “How might we be of service?” They might put us to work mopping the floors.