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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Looking Through The Kaleidoscope #13: Sometimes You Have to Go Back to Go Forward


I was looking through my Twitter today (yes, I tweet) and I was extremely pleased to see that Kaleidoscope's very own Amber Rose Johnson took first prize at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, earning both a pretty penny for herself as well as a stipend for Classical High School to purchase poetry books, which is an idea I am fully behind. On top of that she got to meet John Leguizamo and have Garrison Keillor as one of the judges. It sounded like a fantastic experience all around.

Perhaps it is just me, but it feels like a good time to be creative. Theatre is in a very interesting place this day in age, and I believe the limits that might have surrounded it at one time are slowly loosening their grips. We are living in a time (again) where we are getting down to the basics. We are going back into a place where the theatre is once again about the performer and the empty space, as Peter Brook might put it. Forget the set, don't worry about the props, just give us a place to do the show and we're good. Sure, we still have the glamor of the Broadway musical, but even they are going back to their own golden age with the amount of revivals that have come out in the last few years. The owners of the Rogers and Hammerstein estate are probably doing pretty well in the royalties department. But I think we might be coming back to a time where we are willing to ask the most important question in theatre: "What are you doing?"

The question might sound harsh to the novice theatre performer, but it isn't meant to be. It's not a "What are you doing, for goodness sake, and whatever it is STOP" kind of thing, but more like an awareness of what our actions on stage are. We need to remember that it is action that will always drive a theatrical work. The center of theatre will always be people, and the good plays are going to showcase people in effect.

Whether this be a new wave or old news, I think Kaleidoscope should jump on board. Creatively, I see the company in a good place. There is a good variety of talent, good people at the helm, and the right opportunities are presenting themselves. Consider this: one of the hottest topics in the news right now is bullying. There have been several commentaries on the subject on public radio alone, and this national crisis (yes, crisis) will continue to get attention. Here we have Kaleidoscope with not one, but two anti-bullying shows, both with a strong message, and both with recognizable accolades. I'm surprised there aren't more bookings of this show.

From what I can see, Kaleidoscope has several doors it can step through. The anti-bullying program, the creation of new works like Magic of Story Time and Alice Through the Kaleidoscope, the thirty plus year lineage that it has woven in this community. We are well in our means to do more, and we should. We have a real opportunity not only to continue what we do, but to create great theatre. The theatre is all about the big picture, and Kaleidoscope can absolutely widen its canvas.

In the words of Garrison Keillor, "be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

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