For 15 years I’ve been driving to campus and turning into the parking lot behind my building, but it was only a few days ago when I noticed the street sign that stands on the corner of the entrance: Theatre Ln – No Outlet. I must admit, upon seeing it, my first inclination was to laugh wryly and make a mental note that “No Outlet” was the 21st century’s polite way of saying “Dead End.” There are days when that seems all too accurate, and apparently this was one of them. Indeed, as I walked to my office on this grey October day, I found myself thinking how the miserable employment figures from Actor’s Equity provided grim evidence for the sign’s message, reflecting the vanishing outlets for theatre artists to share their gifts with the public.
But ultimately, I couldn’t stay mired in that cynical frame of mind, because I was about to start my day in the company of young artists whose buoyant goodwill, dedication, humor and sense of hope regularly prevent me from losing faith in the theatre’s possibilities, even when it feels as if the American theatre eats its young, as I wrote a few weeks ago in “Saturn and the Arts.”
Twice monthly, ArtsNash is delighted to feature articles from our partner The Clyde Fitch Report. The contributors to CFR cast their journalistic eyes on the worlds of arts and politics: Follow The Clyde Fitch Report on Facebook and Twitter. Scott Walters is the author of this article from his Interrobang?! series of columns.
Scott Walters is a Professor of Drama at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, as well as the founder of the Center for Rural Arts Development and Leadership Education (CRADLE). He is the long-time author of several blogs including Theatre Ideas and Creative Insubordination. He also writes for The Huffington Post, American Theatre magazine, and is the co-author of Introduction to Play Analysis. He lives in Bakersville, NC.
*Photo courtesy The Clyde Fitch Report.