WARNING: The opinions expressed below are DEFINITELY those of The CoLab Theatre Company! Learn more at www.colabtheatre.org!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An Actor's Labor, Pt. II

After my post on actor pay last month, a number of local artists approached me both online and in person to discuss their thoughts on the topic. The majority of opinions came from freelancers and producers, and in many cases individuals had background in both categories. In the end, everyone agrees that we were paid more/could pay actors more. However, there are some major obstacles standing in our way. Let's review some of the comments from last month's discussion:

...a company must be able to *afford* to pay them and still have enough budget left over for high production values. In order to afford artists/high production values, the company must attract a larger audience. In order to attract a larger audience, the company must produce *high quality work*--which, soon, may only come from paying artists.

Of my theatre-related income, more than 90% over the past year has come from teaching over performing and writing, and I generally operate under a small loss when I produce. The only way to end this cycle is if we increase the audience for theatre.

One of my New Years resolutions was to break out of the actor/slave mentality - not to hang a lampshade on a less than satisfactory experience without pay by saying, "Well, at least I'm acting."

As a producer myself, I know how ugly budgets can look. Even with high ticket prices, we find that ticket sales are not enough to cover the costs of producing our work. Non-profits supplement their budgets through donations, grants and sponsorships, and yet many younger companies aren't yet 501 (c)(3) or lack the scale of support to grow without cutting corners. I realize that this is a reality for many companies and that there is no one answer to solving these problems.

I completely agree that increasing our audiences is the best long term goal to alleviate the plight of actor pay. However, this is a long term goal that serves to strengthen theatre at large and does not specifically address actor pay.

What I would advocate is for local producers and freelancers alike to take a stand and address this problem directly. I recently met with a theatre artist with vast experience in other American cities, who was horrified that so many small theatres in Boston did not pay their actors. I've spoken with freelancers privately who have expressed private frustration at how rarely they were compensated for their labor and work.

In almost every conversation I've had, these freelancers said that if a company even offered a tiny, little stipend, they would feel much more respected as professionals and artists. I, for one, do not find this to be an unreasonable desire. However, many of these actors continue to work for free because they don't get asked how they feel.

Well, I'm asking you. How do you feel about dedicating 40-60 hours of your time over and over again without compensation?

I'm not saying that we should never work for free or go on strike. But we need to seriously evaluate when we do or do not work. I just did a show without pay because it was a brand new company with a minuscule budget. I'm also doing a show this summer for a weekly stipend. I was just offered a small gig for a director I'm friends with. I turned it down due to time concerns, but I would've done it as a pro bono favor.

Actors who are dedicated to making acting part of their full-time profession need to treat themselves as professional freelancers and decide what projects are worth doing pro bono and when they need to ask for compensation or turn down a role. Have some balls!

Producers need to factor actor pay into their budgets according to their size and scale. Have a budget of 300 dollars and need three actors? Fair enough. But have a budget of $1,000 and need three actors? Surely, one can afford to pay $25 stipends to each artist for their 40-60+ hours of labor. That's less than 10% of the total budget. Some people might say that's too low. But I wager that the act of budgeting in compensation for the most underpaid members of the theatre community would be a giant mark of respect and mutually beneficial for all parties in the medium and long run.

As one of the comments said on my blog post last month, the time is coming when small theatres will have to pay their actors in order to maintain a steady level of professional growth. There is some debate over when that time is. I respect others who disagree with me, and I've never felt that any company or producer in this community was exploiting me or other actors. However, I feel strongly that the time has come.

The CoLab will be a part of this future. We are less than two years old. We have a tiny budget. We will be paying our actors small (and I do stress, small) stipends for our first full length production. We won't be able to pay actors for all of our shows and programming this year, and probably not next, but we will be factoring actor pay into the budgets of projects with higher production value. In the long term we hope to have an actor pay budget for all projects, large or small.

Think about this way: If this individual production can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on space, costume, props, etc, why can't we afford small stipends? It would be easy to save that money and put it towards production value, such as sets or other design elements. But instead, we choose to say to our actors:

We are young, but we are professionals and we are cut from the same clothe. As we grow, you will grow with us. We are all in this together.

Be well,

Humana and New Work

When I begin to tell people about the Humana Festival of New American Plays I can't talk fast enough. Anticipation settles into my chest and stomach, and, more often than not, I begin sweating.

Full disclosure: I worked at Actors Theatre of Louisville for the last few years, and this will be my first year going back as an alumni. Though my excitement is amplified knowing I'm going to see friends who still work there, it is remarkable how many people I've contacted to who are not ATL Alumni to ask, "are you going back for Humana?" The sense of national community, the "Homecoming" that it represents, is incredible.

I have never been in a place where the playwright is so revered and engaged. In rehearsals leading up to the Festival you see playwrights dotting the halls. They're meeting with their dramaturg or director. They're printing new drafts. They're staring at the vending machines. Sometimes you can overhear conversations between directors and playwrights. There is a give and take that you don't get to see in other social circumstances. Opinions and impressions are freely expressed. Motives are questioned. With this amalgam of ideas the playwright may continue to mold their script until their story is told. A playwright's work is never finished. Even after opening night they may have new ideas for a revision.

You may know we're working on a new play called Dearly Beloved. We're taking steps to workshop this script because we have faith in it. We've worn opinions on our sleeves -- openly offered thoughts and thrown them away. Open discussions have informed the work we're doing, and I think you'll see the playwright's story coming through clearer than ever. We're going to be taking it to the next level in our staging a month from now, and I hope you'll join us.

Bringing a new play to life is exciting, and it is important for the world to know about it. This is why I think that the New Play Map (go find Dearly Beloved on there, I dare you) does an important job in making new work accessible. There can't be a Humana Festival for every play, but there can be a way to develop and foster the work that is going on in your area. Go see something new around New England this weekend. I can't wait to swap stories about what you saw!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Uncertainly Stable

At this time last year I was in a full life shift mode. I was uncertain about my work, my personal life was all over the place, I started rehearsals for a new show that was the longest running and highest paid work I have done to date, and I was feeling like the whole world was at my finger tips. I didn't really know what the hell to do with said world, but I felt like I had it. And that was exciting. I wasn't entirely happy, but I had choices to make and goals to reach and things to pursue.

Since then things have settled out a lot. I have a full time 9-5 that I like a lot, I have solid friends and a relationship that is fulfilling and important to me, and I haven't had a gig in about a year (with the exception of play. last August), but I've been mostly happy about where I am. I feel comfortable.

But I find it boring. It isn't that any one thing is boring, it's just that without the excitement of uncertainty, I feel that I'm missing risk or adventure. It's the actor streak wrecking havoc on my type-A-ness. And it's not just about missing acting, but missing that part of me that rebels against the sensible, solid part of me and keeps me moving. I guess it's that I feel boring as opposed to my life is boring.

So I'd been searching for something to jump start that streak. A way to step out of my comfort zone or challenge myself or get excited about something.

And then two things happened.

1.) I was told about the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Alaska, held at the beginning of every summer. It's a conference for new play development and they need 150 - 200 actors every year to participate as readers. You pay for your airfare and almost everything else is taken care of. Nothing is definite yet, but my Orbitz searches are at an all time high. The thought of 7 days in a place thousands of miles away where it never gets dark and reading plays for 12 hours a day sounded like exactly what I was looking for.

and then

2.) I had an audition. It had been a while. I'm out of practice. I'm out of material. And I almost had a panic attack. It was perhaps the most anxious I had ever been before an audition. And not in an exciting, "I want to get cast kind of way", but in a terrifying "I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm boring and awful" kind of way. And though I managed to pull the audition out and make myself presentable, it was definitely a low. It was the kind of feeling that made me wonder why I was still pursuing acting at all.

The two feelings were total opposites. And rolling around in my heart and my brain at the same time. I was excited at the prospect of a new kind of acting experience and some time away from my every day life, but I was also completely questioning how I wanted to continue my pursuit of performing.

And then I got cast.

I'm excited about the role. I like the script and the material will definitely push me outside the boundaries of my normal comfort zone. But there is still some lingering anxiety when it comes to how I'm pursuing performance and how I feel about myself as a performer.

That I can never be totally comfortable and still feel like I have interesting things to offer as an actor is a concern. Does my life have to be in flux for me to feel like I can perform? Is uncertainty what makes my life feel stable? And what kind of twisted mentality is that?

These are questions too big for me to answer right now. And maybe ever. But I know that I don't particularly like the person I was becoming searching for excitement. I also know I wasn't entirely happy living my easy day-to-day non performer life.

Which one will eventually win out has yet to be seen, but that $700 plane ticket to Alaska is still on my Orbitz radar and I'll be performing with the Boston Stage Company in iLove next month.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chim, Chiminey, Chim, Chim, Cher-roo.

It's been a long time since I've seen a big, no expense spared, epic show. Heck, its been a long time since I've even seen a musical. Most of the theatre I see is at a smaller venue, such as The Factory or Boston Playwrights and its usually straight plays. However, two Sundays ago I saw Broadway Across America's Mary Poppins at The Boston Opera House. (Side note: The Opera House is an insanely gorgeous building. INSANELY GORGEOUS. If you have the chance to go inside, I highly recommend it. But moving on.)

I forgot what it was like to see a show on that scale. I have not seen a production like that since 2009. (Ragtime at The Kennedy Center definitely put me in a different emotional spot, but I digress.) While walking to the theatre from the train, I was enthralled by all of the hair bows, tiny purses, and patent leather shoes on little girls, all dolled up and dragging their parents toward The Opera House. There were questions and giggles, and "hurry ups!" When I met up with my own pint-sized companions, they were just as fancy and just as giddy and their excitement made me smile even more. As we watched the show, however, one thing became apparent to me. I was enjoying the show, but I was enjoying watching the reactions of the children I was sitting next to and the ones around me even more. When they gasped as Mary Poppins pulled a floor lamp out of her bag, so did I. (Okay, maybe I was the one gasping, but it was pretty freaking cool.) When their eyes widened when the statues danced around the park, so did mine. When they "oohed" and "ahhed" at Mary Poppins as she flew over our heads, that was when I turned and looked at the little ones next to me and grinned.

I'm not one for musicals. I'm not even one for super-sized productions. I like to see intimate, real theatre. I like to see connection. I think this is because THAT'S the type of theatre that I'm interested in making. I don't think I could direct a musical. I definitely couldn't be in a musical. (Sometimes I'm jealous of you coordinated, in-tune folk.) HOWEVER, I enjoyed myself for the evening. I enjoyed being in a packed house of the next generation of theatre goers. I enjoyed seeing the show with my friend and her daughters. I know we here in the fringe life don't like to admit it, but big, sparkly productions are necessary to our survival as a medium. Just think, we were in a sold out house, if even 20% of those children remember enjoying Mary Poppins and audition for their community production this summer, and 10% percent of those go on to do theatre in college, and 5% go on to do it professionally, we're still engaging and educating our youth and propelling our craft forward. The next show I see definitely won't be at the Boston Opera House, but I'm looking forward to the next time I head to the theatre. And I'm looking forward to the future.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Modern Dance

I've come to love modern dance, however I used to have an awful aversion to it. There were very few pieces that I liked. I didn't connect as an audience member and I didn't know why. Therein, I dismissed modern dance for a great while. I wasn't going to fake it and say, "that was amazing!" when I had no idea what I had just seen. I could certainly recognize the timing, strength, and skill of the dancers, but I couldn't find what compelled the choreographer to design the piece.

Last night I was exposed to a text for a performance piece. The playwright read the piece and I assume that it was at the tempo and rhythm she desired to perform at. Her four, double-spaced pages took nearly eighteen minutes to read, and mired in amongst those pages were vivid, dreamlike imagery as well as detached, intellectual phrases. And finally, after years of thinking, I discovered what made "good" modern dance (but not an absolute as the arts are subjective. (Yes, I just created a clause to my thought)).

It's the story. I will say that modern does not always necessitate a story or journey, but it was my biggest hang up.

Now, I've called it out before that I didn't get the story. However, for a long while I beat myself up for thinking I wasn't smart enough to get it. That it was too intellectual (A-HA!). That this performance style didn't have to have a story. That dance was an exploration of the body and an exposing of the mind, however tangential. That there must be some other value or component that I missed, right? I did the same thing with theatre. When something avant guard is on stage as a performance piece I at least want to see a story, or a theme, or a lens to look through at culture or society. I want to see something that is going to connect me as an audience member or at least take me on a brief journey. Heartless, soulless, selfish theatre is something that I do not want to see (or make).

That is also to say that in any performance I need to see the connection between body and emotion, and from that comes the intellectual. Read any of Chuck Mee's works and you will find a lens, a theme, and a story. While you will discover how disconnected his pieces may appear on the surface, I think you will find that there is a story to be had throughout (not to mention a theme and context). I will say that I have not read all of his works so perhaps there is an exception to my rant here.

All this musing is to say that I've been thinking a great deal about Beckett and Muller in juxtaposition to musicals and melodrama. How do we find connections in a disconnected script? And how do we ask the audience to come along? How far can we take them? This is what makes modern dance so human.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Please look for a StageSource posting and blog post about our rescheduled auditions for Dearly Beloved.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What to say?

Holy cats.

So here I am in the CoLab portion of the blogosphere thanks to Kenny, Mary-Liz, and Erika. But what to write about?

I guess, what inspires me and what do I want to explore is a good place to start.

Being new to Boston it might be interesting to make comparisons to Minneapolis -- my old stomping grounds. The Fringe Festival, the lack of theatre space, the plethora of small theatres, the relationship of a major theatre to equity and non-equity actors...

Or I've been busting at the seems to talk with someone about process these days. About transitions and cheap magic, and how every time a director makes an assumption a props master loses her wings. About how understanding and utilizing the space will only enhance the story.

Or the business and the life of the new American play. How are we writing it; what is the zeitgeist we're writing in or the muse we're writing for; where is it taking place; how is it being funded?

Or maybe I should just say "thanks." Because, being a part of a theatre such as CoLab, which is dedicated to ensuring that the process of creating theatre is done the right way, is important to me. Like I said, I'm new here, and I appreciate being invited along for the ride. I look forward to making future observations and discoveries alongside CoLab.

So for now, I'll say just that. Thanks. Thanks Boston for being so inviting. Thanks KMLE for considering my brain for consideration. And thanks to you for reading. I'm looking forward to writing!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mary-Liz vs. The Monologue

Gosh do I hate finding new monologues.

Well I hate trying to find them.

When they magically happen upon me, because I hear them in a play or steal them from another actor (don't pretend you haven't done it) it's serendipity and usually works out pretty well. I find a printed version of said monologue, learn it, and put it in to action.

But as anyone proficient in auditioning knows, monologues get worn out after a while. You need to be refreshing your repertoire somewhat regularly to keep in audition material. Sometimes you outgrow a piece, or you've used it for every company in town and need to show them something different, or you just fall out of love with it. It happens.

But what happens when you find yourself in a monologue-less pit?

How do you recover?

Going on the search is a difficult thing. It requires you to think carefully about what type you are, what genre(s) you're looking for, how long it is, if you like it, if you see enough in the material to simultaneously be able to take risks and be super comfortable performing it. It's a difficult balancing act. And a lot of digging.

The thing that makes new monologues really hard for me though, is my innate tendency towards procrastination. Until I HAVE to have something new, I'm not working on anything new. It's a terrible terrible habit. In college we had to have new material fairly frequently so I was constantly updating my folder-o'-monologues. But at this point, most of those don't work for me, and it's time for some upgrading.

I'm not really sure where or how to begin. I have a stack of plays next to my bed. But I'm not really sure that any of them are there because they have monologue potential. They were more on my 'to read' list than anything. I haven't pinpointed what kinds of pieces I want to be working on. And honestly, it's been so long since I've been cast, I'm a little fuzzy on my type. Where I fit in. What I need to be working with. What I want to working with. From where I am now, I probably can't go wrong with much of anything, simply because it's new, and fresh, and different. Something to play with. But it can be hard to devote the time to all the reading and memorizing that goes in to a new audition piece.

But, I have an audition March 22. So I guess I'd better get on it...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Eyes on the Prize, Words in the Air: Erika on The BTC '11

Once upon a time, I was asked to blog for the Boston Theatre Conference 2011. I started writing the following statements:

“Why NOT Boston?”

“Boston theatre scene. Slow arts movement. Slow food movement. Progress. The next step.”

“I have this conversation at least one a month:
‘What do you do?’
‘I'm an actress.’
‘What are you doing here? Why aren't you in New York?’”

As you can see, I didn’t get very far. I didn’t have a really clear vision of what I wanted to write about because I didn’t have a clear vision of what the point of the conference was. Obviously, I knew that we were there to discuss the state of Boston Theatre and its future, but I didn’t know what I personally wanted to get out of the conference. As Kenny put it, “past [conferences] focused on our identity as a theatrical center, and this year I've noticed that we are at a turning point in that journey. We are a theatrical center.” After attending last Monday, however, I’m energized and stirred up about this “theatrical center” but I’m nervous. In her closing remarks, Julie Hennrikus reminded us that the conference is important, but continuing the conversation is more important.

And I couldn’t agree more. But how? We’re all so busy – many of us little guys (the fringier theatres, the smaller companies) work many jobs: 40 hours a week at a paying gig, 15+ hours at rehearsals, PLUS any additional hours we spend in meetings planning and producing our individual shows. That’s a lot of time and effort. And we want to make sure we’ll sustain for an extended period of time and not burn out. So how do we continue to share these ideas and have conversations? What do we do? Apparently, it’s as easy as One. Two. Three… 4.5.6. and 7.

I've got a clearer vision of what I want to say than when I was originally asked to blog. Thanks to my mother, a first grade teacher with a propensity for exploring new ideas when its comes to literacy, I've discovered a technique called Six Traits Plus One. She may be using it get her first graders to become better writers, but this lost actress is using it to organize her thoughts on The BTC 2011. Here we go.

1. IDEAS: We've obviously got 'em. And they were flying everywhere at the conference. But we've got to start small as a way to dream big. The ideas that stuck out to me as the most immediate are: selling local/Boston as way of keeping/expanding local audiences, cross-promotion (we already do it between the smaller companies, why can't different sized companies help promote each other?), conversations between larger, established organizations and fringe organizations, demystifying the rehearsal process by letting the audience in, and rebranding

2. ORGANIZATION: We're all busy. We've already established this. It's hard to promote your show sometimes when 55 hours of your week are already taken up by other things. So let's use each other. In my lunch breakout, we spoke about creating a pass that could be used at multiple shows in a season so that patrons can purchase a pass and see both a show at The Huntington and at The Factory. How? Email me at colabtheatre@gmail.com. I've got some ideas.

3. VOICE: We have a BOSTONIAN voice. Let's keep singing it out. We talked about how people support The Red Sox as their home town team. Why can't we rebrand theatre in much the same way? In Vaquero Playground's Bear Patrol the Boston references kept me rolling last weekend. Mill 6's T-Plays connected us through one universal annoyance - public transportation. 11:11's Her Red Umbrella told us a story about Harvard Students. Later this season, The Great Heathersby Heist gets its inspiration from the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. Some companies are already selling Boston, it's definitely a good thing to keep working on.

4. WORD CHOICE: The idea that "going to theatre" scares people off as elitist, expensive, and boring kept coming up. Someone put it like this, "Shakespeare is hard and Our Town is boring." So let's change the language we use to market. One idea from the conference, non-theatre folk don't know what a staged/workshop reading is -- why not call it a tasting?

5. SENTENCE FLUENCY: Seriously, though, let's continue the conversation. I don't want to be talking about the same exact issues at the 2013 conference. You may have noticed that conversations between larger, established organizations and fringe organizations was in bold before. I believe so strongly that this is a MAJOR missing link. We have two different types of audiences. Let's talk about melding them.

6. CONVENTIONS: We all have ideas on traditional theatrical conventions, but if audience size is decreasing, we might have to shake it up a bit. Workshops, family involvement, open rehearsals, found spaces. These are all great ideas. Let's keep brainstorming.

PLUS 1. PRESENTATION: We all know about presentation. Putting on a show. From the sounds of things, we all want to keep doing this. I'm looking forward to seeing some changes, however small, in the next few months in Boston. I believe in this place as a cultural hub, and so do you. Let's keep cultivating.

These are my thoughts. Hopefully something here caught your eye. Let's talk. Email me at colabtheatre@gmail.com. We'll converse. And collaborate.

- Erika

Sunday, March 6, 2011

...the kindness of strangers

Fund-raising is every theatre company's biggest dilemma. From a small fringe company to a multi-million dollar organization, soliciting donations and raising money is always a challenge. There are lots of reasons for this, to name just a few: a.) it can be uncomfortable to ask people for money, it takes a lot of time for the average person to warm up to simply asking for money from others b.) every fund-raiser has been done to death and c.) an unpredictable economy leads to unpredictable donors.

These are the things we've been coming up against in the last few months as we start our production plan for Dearly Beloved. But not only because we have a production budget that is currently 300% more than the small operating capital we currently have, but because our goal is to not only produce the show but also boost our capital. It's definitely a tough road.

But we're not in it alone!

Yesterday we began production on a new (and as of yet, super top secret...) fund-raising campaign and needed a little help. We enlisted a friend but were definitely in need of another person for support. So our friend enlisted his friend...who had no idea who we were, what we did, or what he was getting in to, but was just ready to help. And help he did. Honestly, the first phase of the project would have been impossible without him. How awesome is that?!

But wait, it gets better.

He's not the only one. Most people who bought our cupcakes or sodas didn't know who we were, people we met at the Boston Theatre Conference and offered help and ideas, and even members of our social network community, helping to spread the word about us are strangers or near strangers. People we don't know on a personal level. And they are willing to pitch in, and give us a little bit of their time, or their ideas, and in some cases their cold hard cash, just to help us succeed.

So yeah, fund-raising is hard. It can feel like a pressure cooker, trying to make money for your company. But most people like the idea that they've helped or contributed to something they find interesting or valuable. So for us, the best thing to do is stay true to our mission, pitch our passion to anyone willing to listen, and rely on the kindness of strangers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cupcakes and snacks and drinks, OH MY!

The CoLab is having a Bake-Sale!

Come Support the CoLab by buying concessions and home baked goods at this Friday's performances of Vaquero Playground' s Bear Patrol!

Support two companies at one performance. Come see Bear Patrol at the Boston Playwrights Theatre at 7:30pm & 10:00pm and support the CoLab by buying drinks, snacks, and home baked-goods before and after the show!

About the show!

Bear Patrol
By: John J. King
Directed by: Barlow Adamson

Huggy Bear wants to be the first post-apocalyptic rock star. Can she make it Somewhere Over the Rainbow, thru the Purple Rain, Purple Rain, to defeat theWretched Rex of the Rox and set Crimson City free? Watch and dance on down the road with her as Monkey Bear supplies the beats,Emphysema Bear bleats, and Huggy Bear Tweets her way to rock legend status in BEAR PATROL, a Boston-set, pop-culture mash-up adaptation of the Wizard of Oz. A fairy tale about a truly Nuclear family.

Forget Lions and Tigers...You're on Bear Patrol!


March 3 - 20, 2011

March 4, 2011 7:30pm & 10:00pm CoLab Bake-Sale!

$8 or Less
General Admission

Boston Playwright's Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Boston Theatre Conference From Kenny's Perspective

The CoLab was out in force this past weekend at The Boston Theatre Conference. There was much on the table, and the report will spell out the summary for all of us to read in the coming months. But I wanted to check in and talk about my expectations and what I got out of this event.

I've read the previous BTC reports in detail and must admit that I wasn't entirely sure what this particular conference would address. Past events focused on our identity as a theatrical center, and this year I've noticed that we are at a turning point in that journey. We are a theatrical center. There is no longer any doubt about that. The question is, how will we define ourselves? These are critical years that we won't get back. The time to act is now.

I said I would discuss the topic of actor pay this week, but I'm going to have to put that topic on the burner until my next post. Instead, let's talk about the economics of growth and sustainability. I met many different artists and producers, and one of the common themes was that of cooperation. Some might think it strange that in a time when people are hurting economically, that we'd try work with each other instead of against each other. But let's take an economists look at this.

Remember Mercantilism? It's okay, I graduated with a history degree and even I had to look it up. Mercantilism is the term used to describe the economic theories that dominated the western world before the rise of classical liberalism and modern economics. It was believed that the acquisition and spending of capital was a zero sum game. IE, when you spend, you lose. When you sell, you win. Therefore, you have to export more than you import. If someone else is better at something than you, you're screwed.

Classical Liberalism determined economics is not a zero sum game and that the gains by another do not necessarily turn into one's loss. Without getting into complicated terminology, exchange and cooperation can generate capital that would otherwise never exist. We can increase the size of the pie, rather than eat the whole thing.

I spoil the ending for you, but technology and culture sped the hell up as liberalism and liberty spread throughout the world. To this day, we still celebrate these ideals, whether liberal, moderate or conservative (or Libertarian Socialist...)

So why the history lesson? Because while I'm no cheerleader, I do believe that artists must be economists. We must be historians. We must be entrepreneurs. We have to stop being perpetual freelancers, and work in tandem with each other and create networks and INVEST capital of all kinds into our own future. Especially at a time when our opportunities for funding (government and private charities are in trouble these days) are shrinking, it's about damned time we start thinking about creating new business ventures and partnerships.

The Boston Theatre Conference gave me a great deal of hope that we're not the only ones who think this way.