THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF TOOTCo, JOEL ROSTER. THE STATEMENTS, OPINIONS, AND WORDS CONTAINED HEREIN DO NOT REFLECT THE OPINIONS OF ACTORS, PRODUCTION STAFF, OR ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS ASSOCIATED--PAST OR PRESENT---WITH THIS ORGANIZATION.
Things have changed. Everywhere. Forever.
Now, that may seem obvious to some, but in the world of live theatre, it seems to be the stone that everyone trips over... even if it's the size of a boulder in an otherwise empty f--king lawn.
In the wake of a pandemic whose ramifications have not yet been truly known, I have seen the worst theatre I have ever seen in my life.
That's not hyperbole--it's bad out there, and the reason, as I see it, is twofold:
1. Most theatre companies and their producers believe that it should automatically go back to "business as usual".
2. Most theatre companies and their producers cannot answer the question of "why".
It is not enough to want to produce a "good story"; a company must, must, must have reasons for wanting to tell that story beyond "it's a good play". In fact, I feel that anyone producing a piece of theatre needs to be able to answer three questions without blinking:
THE THREE WHYS
1. Why are we telling this story?
2. Why is it important that we are telling this story right now?
3. Why are we telling this story with this group of actors and this production team?
In a time when our needs for a fulfilling evening of entertainment have shifted dramatically, if a theatre company cannot answer these three questions in a substantial and satisfactory manner, the answer to "why should I see this show" has indeed been answered for me.
I'm not saying that every play produced needs to have a [insert year here] socio-political bent or we should be gasping in our seats by the relevance, my god, the relevance, but we should all be able to certainly say where every f--king show fits not only in the mosaic of a "season", but how deeply our mission statement is implemented in the produced piece, and what this production displays about where we are going as an organization and as an art form.
If TOOTCo cannot answer these questions in a satisfactory manner, we will not produce a play.
"Business as usual" is a conceptual folly, and as a great author once wrote, the world only spins forward.
So, where does that leave us?
After serious thought and consideration of the questions raised above, and sitting in the comfortable position of putting on a play precisely when we deem it necessary, we have decided on our next project, tentatively slated for the summer of 2024. Once production rights have been secured, we will announce our piece...or, rather, pieces.
I've held all this sh-t in for two years, and my friends have been bored to death of hearing me blather on and on regarding this issue. As it came time to update the site (and update all of you), I realized that, for better or worse, I have a platform to say something, even if that platform is 100% made of Legos.
Keep holding theatre accountable. Keep holding it relevant. Otherwise...
...we all know the otherwise.
See you soon.