Cricket's Notebook by Larry Stark


entire contents copyright 1997/1998 by Larry Stark

Will Another One Bite The Dust"?
--- Monday, 30 June, '98

I hope it's not true, but last week I may have reviewed the last performance of the last play mounted by The Bridge Theatre Company. My review hardly does justice to the experience. Perhaps my mind was divided between the originality and sincerity of the performance, and the worrisome implications of notes in the program. This is what I read:

The Bridge at the Crossroads

For the past four years The Bridge Theatre Company has been offering audiences and the communities of Greater Boston a vision of drama that is relevant and unique. We have generated a repertoire of plays classical and contemporary which have for the most part either been neglected or obscured by commercial stages. We have provided a venue for new work and experimentation among local artists. We have sought to realize imaginative expression of works of art under at times severe constraints and limitations. Our purpose has been not to rival the commercial theatres, but to offer a cultural counter-voice, and to achieve ends which are for numerous reasons either unattainable or undesired by big theatre business. That we continue to attract diverse audiences, that our efforts have been recognized by artistic, community, and critical circles, indeed that we are here again tonight --- all this speaks to the ongoing success of our endeavors.

The Bridge stands, however, at a critical point in its existence. Lacking certain personnel, lacking elements necessary to the growth of a theatre company, lacking funds to pay our actors and designers, we cannot continue to realize our potential. Our circumstances are by nature unstable, and not simply because we are an itinerant troupe.

As all who are involved in the art world know, we share the struggling, at times straggling state of a cultural endeavor in a commercially-driven metropolis. More people pass through our ranks than we can keep, and this is understandable: Humankind shall not live by art alone. Ideally, The Bridge would serve as a point of connection between a variety of artistic vocations and enterprises --- poetry and drama, dance and the visual arts --- between the literary and educational, even between other small theatre companies. But there exists a gap between what we can do and what we would do. For this reason we make a three-way appeal:

We appeal to the artists of Boston --- designers, trainers, actors, writers, visual and performance artists --- who wish to pool their talents and visions for a common artistic purpose.

We appeal for a business manager who will manage funds and procure grant money and donations, for a publicity director who will make us better known.

We appeal for a patron or patrons, for a person or persons who believe in what we are trying to do, and feel that sufficiently strongly, to make it, by their personal help, possible for us to do it, and make a permanent theatre.

[And then I read this statement of purpose:]

The Bridge Manifesto

A Theatre of the Imagination

A Theatre of the Imagination describes, in its literal sense, the embodiment of the creative intelligence at its highest pitch into dramatic form. Practically speaking, The Bridge seeks to embody that type of drama which is most imaginative: a drama that, while remaining rooted in life, is at once bold and inventive, reckless and fantastical. In drawing on plays classical and contemporary, The Bridge seeks to advance such a theatre.

The Theatre of the Imagination must claim as its base powerful words and evocative images. It utilizes, among other techniques, symbol and poetry, ritual and myth, dance and song, in its effort to manifest human acts and utterances at their most intense. Through such concentrated communication, The bridge seeks to offer its audiences durable patterns of the human condition in a binding and blinding dramatic moment on the stage.

Furthermore, by fostering such forms of communication, we hope to point to the possibility of community among us all, a community deeper than circumstance and the forces that threaten to divide us. As blood bridges flesh, regardless of race; as the imagination bridges minds, irrespective of culture, we seek the bridge that binds us each to each: to illuminate, without judgement, the sorrow and joy, the hilarity and tragedy, the complexity and mystery of life.

[And this appeal followed, asking name, address, phone and e-mail:]

Yes, I want to see The Bridge's vision realized in Boston. I am willing to contribute in the following way(s):

[And it ended with this address for replies:]

The Bridge Theatre Company
14 Glenside Avenue #3
Jamaica Plain MA 02130

It takes commitment and dedication to make theater here in Boston. But it also takes money. Theater people cannot go on working for money all day, rehearsing all night, and performing all week-end before burning out. It is frustrating to want to give people things you know they need but apparently refuse to pay for --- with consistent enthusiastic support as well as with money. Eventually a lack of secure income ends in a lack of human dignity and artists, being people, are forced to seek security in nonartistic endeavors.

The Bridge Theatre Company needed and richly deserved publicity. I would have seen their work sooner had I known about their shows earlier. They need and richly deserve public funding. Giving artists the opportunity to work full-time at their professions and still pay their bills isn't giving them a sinecure so much as it is freeing their creativity.

Whatever you can do, for The bridge Theatre Company or for any committed, dedicated theatrical artists, will make your city a better place. It might even mean that city will not lose yet another frustrated group trying to give their community something worth preserving.


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