Magazine article American Theatre

Why Can't We All Just Get along? We Can

Magazine article American Theatre

Why Can't We All Just Get along? We Can

Article excerpt

You might think of it as the longest intermission in history.

The first time the entire national theatre community decided to get together, it was 1974. Nonprofit theatres were gaining momentum, but they had money problems; Broadway was in decline, and it had even worse money problems. Some 220 professionals from both sectors, along with foundation executives, educators and a few individual artists, met at Princeton University at the invitation of Broadway producer Alexander Cohen. The meeting was called FACT (the First Annual Congress of Theatre). It didn't go very well. FACT was, in fact, "doomed from the beginning," in the words of Rocco Landesman, who wrote about it for the New York Times, in no small part because these disparate theatre people "may all have come from the same country, but they certainly didn't speak the same language.

Intermission.

Twenty-six years later, almost to the day, the national theatre community tried again. A similar number of theatre folk, selected from the same ranks, met at Harvard University. This time the invitation went out jointly from Theatre Communications Group, speaking for the nonprofit sector, and the League of American Theatres and Producers, representing the commercial world. The participants in ACT II discovered in short order that times had greatly changed and that finding a common language was no problem. The financial and artistic "stakes" seemed as large and as critical as they had been a generation earlier--but the business of formulating cooperative solutions to problems afflicting both sectors seemed to come naturally. …

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