Staging America: Cornerstone and Community-Based Theater

By Sonja Kuftinec | Go to book overview

6

REGIONAL RETURNS : A TALE OF TWO COLLABORATIONS

When Cornerstone is in its [community-based] environment there's nothing else like it. You see people who would never have been in the theater otherwise.

—Doug Wager, former artistic director, Arena Stage

Do I err on the side of excessive ambition when I say that if New Haven can be captured onstage, we will have created a theatrical document which may have much to say about the future of the American city?

—Doug Hughes, former artistic director, Long Wharf Theatre

ornerstone's collaborations with Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and CLong Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, attempt in part to stage each theater's urban community. But this chapter offers more than a tale of two cities. “Regional Returns” relates the saga of two seemingly at- odds theatrical practices, of two quite different collaborative processes, and, not inconsequently, of two Dougs. Though narrative often suggests a linear progress through time, this tale centers on a series of returns: Cornerstone's return to the east coast regional theaters against which its founders had initially rebelled, to a play that the company had already produced, Brecht's Good Woman of Setzuan,1 and to an often over-roasted holiday chestnut, A Christmas Carol. This chapter also revisits assumptions about the nature of and distinctions between community-based and regional theater, about the limits of inclusion, and about storytelling itself.

The stance of the critic has been indirectly examined throughout Staging America. In previous chapters, I have looked at the relationship between academic writing and community-based practice, investigated the nature of performed ethnography, and adopted the role of a participant-observer.

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