Cricket's Notebook Friday, 31 December, 2004 6:21 a p: "All I Want for Xmas Is....!"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


Friday - New Year's Eve, 31 December, 2004 6:21 a pm:
All I want for Xmas is....!

Friday, 31 December '04
K. Kringle (aka St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Xmas)
The North Pole
Planet Earth

Dear Santa
As a militant Atheist, I must admit I have outgrown any faith I may have had in the reality of any of the myths surrounding the 25th of December.
You know I know you don't exist.
But back when I thought you did, the rite of penning a Wish-List did, indeed, tip off the people who actually Were in charge of making Xmas Presents into reality --- about what I felt lacking in my life. And so I'm using this quaint hold-over from my distant youth to alert the world about my needs and wants. These are the things I want to find, metaphorically, under my tree on the morning of 25 December, 2005:

I'd like The Gaiety Theatre re-opened; but, that may turn out to be unrealistic; so I want the current home of the Institute of Contemporary Art guaranteed as a space used for Artistic Endeavors ONLY, no matter who might buy the builiding when it becomes empty.
And I want the ICA THEATRE renovated and re-opened as a theatrical rental-space open fifty-two week-ends every year.
Here's one way it could be done:
I think some bank should buy the entire complex, and then turn it over to both The Boston Conservatory and The Berklee School of Music. THEY can use the spaces inside the building for classroom spaces, for rehearsal spaces, and even for performance spaces.
If people interested most in Performing rather than Plastic arts were using the building, I think the theater-space would get used much more than it has ever been while the ICA has been its landlord.
Both schools could use this comfortably small space for performances of plays or for music events. (With a record-store literally around the corner, it could be a fine space in which performers or groups could celebrate their newest records!)
The space is a step up in size from The Devanaughn and The Actors' Workshop; and its advantage is the T-Stop half a block away. It would provide a performing space for companies moving up, at a time when most of the theatre-building going on in and around the city are adding larger, rather than smaller spaces. Since it IS, already, a theatre, I'd like some guartantee that it will STAY a theatre, instead of just another Starbucks.
I don't know who could give me this dream; presumably the Boston Redevelopment Authority, if involved, could broker this idea.
Why Not! ! ! !!!

I want StageSource to Give us something, instead of just Selling us things.
Specifically, I want them to initiate and then maintain the only COMPLETE and ACCURATE list of plays performed each week in the six New England States. Since for quite a number of years I did this myself, I know it's possible and it's not really very expensive. Here's how to do it and why it would be a great idea:
Do it on The Internet, as a cooperation between StageSource, New England Entertainment Digest, and New England Theatre 411.
Get Juree James to fabricate the web-site, because her NET411 has most of the needed machinery, but nowhere near the necessary content.
I think what we badly need is an alphabetical list of all plays (Title, Company & web-site URL, Street Address, Phone) currently performing in all theatres in all six New England States, plus a second "Coming Productions" list. Then a simplified Search-Engine could display a particular title, company, city, or performance-date.
But, as NET411 has proved, unless such a site IS both complete and accurate, no one will actually NEED it.
So, initially, the site should be filled by someone transferring all the Coming Productions listed in JulieAnne Govang's N.E.E.D. --- which arrived in my mailbox this morning. (Juree's machinery transfars a show from "Coming" to "Up & Running" on the opening date, and deletes it on closing date, automatically; thus COMING is where everything starts.)
NOTE, this isn't an intellectual exercize, it's a TYPING exercize. It would take maximum a day or two of Data Entry by a competent Temp to load all of N.E.E.D. into the site.
Juree can arrange it so anyone e-mailing an announcement can get it uploaded into the system automatically --- but that won't cut it. That same competent Temporary Typist should use N.E.E.D. every month to put up all the New coming attractions JulieAnne has found. That shouldn't be more than one day's typing every month.
In addition, every Thursday night or Friday Morning a Temp should look into The GLOBE Calendar and The PHOENIX to catch any groups that fell through the cracks, to make certain this is The Definitive Source of this information in the six New England States.

Understand, this must be FREE to anyone who needs any of that information!
Because Free is the key to making this Indispensible, and once that becomes obvious all sorts of people will, simply by using it, get to know StageSource and its other attractions.
Of course, StageSource needn't do it. BOStix/ARTSboston could do it, or even The Boston Convention Bureau or The Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs.
But StageSource should. They do a lot of things, but none of them "Define" StageSource the way this would. And too many of the things they do are "For Members Only" or things that must be paid for. I am not a member because I need nothing StageSource does --- at least not badly enough to buy them. I think this would change the way a lot of people look at theater in this area, and the way everybody looks at StageSource, too.
Why Not! ! ! !!!

I want a person paid to promote Boston, nationwide and worldwide and, yes, Citywide too, as "Theater City USA!"
As I see it her* duties should be three.
[* I know three people who could do this job, all experienced ladies.]
1. See to it that all major theatrical events here are publicized, not only to the people outside Boston who might become tourists, but to the people Inside Boston who don't know the riches available to them.
2. Call one local theater company every working day and ask "How can I help you with promotion or advertising?"
3. Expedite, and if possible Broker, print, radio, and/or television advertising --- with an emphasis on Group Ads for cheaper rates.

Every company here is busy with their own works, and all of them hoping for bigger audiences with funding shrinkage rampant --- but the real story is the wide variety and vigor of theater Generally here. While Broadway-in-Boston still gets all the ink, new local companies are popping up all the time, and the work has never been better. What Boston theater needs is an advocate who can tell that story --- and can convince audiences here that there's always more good things yet to see.
But of course The Mayor's Office and the Convention Bureau work under the theory that one-committee-fits-all-Cultural-Affairs, so that any parade on an Ethnic Awareness Day will get as much attention as the Boston Marathon --- More, actually. Can you say the phrase "voting block"?
ARTSboston might manage to do this, since they are the only group actually involved in expanding audiences here, and their statistics might even be a useful measure of interest Across The Board in theater here in the city.
I doubt if they have the money. Nevertheless...
Why Not! ! ! !!!

I want another person paid to call a different company each working day to ask "How can I help you with any Funding Grants?"
Many small companies haven't the time, money, awareness or manpower to investigate even the Possibility of finding funding, and they would welcome advice on the subject from an informed, committed, helpful expert.

Now, I must admit that every time I see dollar-signs, I tune out. I have never understood money, and for a long time I've avoided knowing even how much my free tickets might cost anyone who read my review and wanted to see the show. But theater Does Cost Money, despite the donated, "amateur" or otherwise unpaid work real theater-lovers contribute to the whole. Smaller and smaller companies have been advertising their "Sponsors" but too few of them can afford to buy themselves useful Grantsmanship, or even know where to look for it.
Now, there is an organization called The Arts & Business Council of Boston that seems to me capable of doing this --- but they don't. Instead, so far as I can see from their mail and e-mails to me, what they really do is sell entry to seminars intending to make theatres act more like businesses, instead of getting business people to share their expertise with theater people.
And we've been over the orientation of the government here, right? Still...
Why Not! ! ! !!!

Come early April, I want Mayor Thomas Menino to open The Boston THEATER Marathon with a short appreciative speech. (I'd like him to open the IRNE Awards Ceremony in March as well, but I think that may be too political a hot-potato to be realized.)
Last year, I did a little minimal work to re-elect Councilman Felix D. Arroyo, then asked him as a quid-pro-quo favor, to invite Our Mayor to this April festival of Greater Boston Theater --- which he did.
The Mayor turned him down cold, and I've never heard an explanation of why. But, this year?
Why Not! ! ! !!!

I want a producing entity, preferrably Publically Funded, that would try --- by single productions, nights of one-acts, and new-play festivals (not necessarily in the same space or mounted by the same company) --- to showcase theater works by the many Playwrights who live and write here in Boston.
But that, of course, would be more than a one-year project!

This may actually be happening, though not with any public push behind it. I've heard several people interested in the idea, and I'm eager to see what they come up with.
My idea, though, is more like a Boston Playwrights' Producing Organization that could lobby existing companies to produce the work of local scriveners, to be publicized as " a continuing series of BOSTON Playwright Showcases" and to promote this sort of peripatetic festival by listing and advertising the local talents As A Group.
People like Playwrights' Platform or Shadow Boxing or The Theater Cooperative, again, are too busy doing one production at a time to have resources for advertising The Bigger Picture. Meanwhile, there are playwrights living all their lives here who get their work noticed internationally --- but not locally! That should change!
Why Not! ! ! !!!

Okay, Mr. Kringle, sir --- see what you can do with this list.
I know it's early for me to send this letter, but consider:
Now you have Fifty-One Weeks to fill my stocking with the toys I have requested.

Why Not! ! ! !!!

Oh, I almost forgot: I want a radio-station, too.
It should be an A.M. station, one that makes money but hasn't become the gold-mine or cash-cow the owner expected. I'll bet we could turn it into a twentyfour-hour Radio Theatre space on the dial with very little effort --- and leave all the commercials right where they are!
Failing that, I'd accept an hour slot each week on one of the high-end F.F. stations to do a show I'd call "The Ten-Minute Play". What with SUMMER SHORTS and THE MARATHON and PLAYWRIGHTS' PLATFORM, the ten-minute play is becoming a Boston specialty.
I'd run three of them --- recorded at the actors' convenience --- with talk with the playwright before or after each, and maybe five minutes a week in which I could answer the question "What Happened in Boston, Larry?"
This one is so easy I can Taste it!

Okay, fat man, do your little trick!

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide