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Played Out?

The Twin Cities’ theater scene has boomed in recent years, spawning dozens of new productions and acting companies. But even as new venues have opened, ticket sales have slowed or leveled off. Can the show go on?

Played Out?
Photo by Thomas Strand

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Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

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May 22, 2008 02:36 pm
 Posted by  1cisco1

Being a huge musical theatre buff, I read your article on Twin Cities theatre in your recent issue with great interest. Your listing of Chaska Valley Family Theatre was great; however, they are Community Theatre and not the best offering in the area. Minnetonka Community Theatre, directed by R. Kent Knutson from Minnetonka High School, is the most professional and talented group. Check it out.

May 23, 2008 08:23 am
 Posted by  Concernedartist

I find this article wholly irresponsible.
This issue (over-saturation of the theater community) rears its head every few years. Ms. DeSmith has not uncovered a new phenomenom.
Ms. DeSmith suggets that many small theater companies should take down their shingle and let the "real" artists work. Where do you suppose the real artists come from?

May 23, 2008 08:24 am
 Posted by  Black

The problem is not an overabundance of space- the problem is the rent is so ridiculously high most small theatre companies can't AFFORD to rent these fancy new theatres. Look at smaller, cheaper venues like BLB, always full. Also, there is NO shortage of excellent non-union female actors in the Cities, just male ones. There isn't ENOUGH union work to lure union actors to the cities full time.

May 23, 2008 11:08 pm
 Posted by  tctheatreartist

I am a Twin Cities theatre practitioner and avid theatre-goer and, having read Christy DeSmith's article illustrating her unfounded opinions on Minnesota theatre, I have several questions. Why would a publication that seems to take pride in delineating the beauty of our state's landscape, population, and culture choose to print a story with such cheap shots at those among us trying, against great odds, to make a career in the local theatre community? And while DeSmith makes it clear that she can turn a scathing phrase aimed at a group whose work apparently was not her cup of tea, what, exactly is her point? Her petty jabs and outrageous overstatements, backed by no discernible facts, undermine anything remotely resembling the thesis that she seems to be trying to support. And an article whose only goal seems to be to discourage potential audience members from taking a chance on local theatre seems a hideous affront to the artistic community of our state and quite out of place in a magazine such as yours.

May 24, 2008 08:43 am
 Posted by  SBD

I respectfully disagree with your comments on MN Shakespeare's Project production of King Lear. Granted, I was there on a different night, but saw nothing hollow or inept about the production. If two women were twittering at the sight of two female actors kissing, I am more likely to chalk that down to discomfort with non-hetero sexuality than a sign of a festering talent problem.

May 24, 2008 09:15 am
 Posted by  SBD

A slackening audience base is not unique to theatre. In literary publishing, there are writers galore but readers are a dying breed. I've seen bad theatre, read horrible books, but hesitate to suggest that readers quit reading (or only read Penguin classics), that new readers should think twice before diving into a diversity of literature, or that arts funding is inherently harmful to creativity.

May 28, 2008 01:29 pm
 Posted by  PointCounterPoint

I am actually kind of surprised that any artist here WOULDN'T think there was an oversaturation of theatre in the twin cities. DeSmith seems to be laying the blame at the feet of small and emerging companies, but I would contend that there is more interesting, quality work coming out of brand new groups then out of mid-size troops who are fighting to KEEP their audience w/o concern for quality.

Jun 14, 2008 08:09 am
 Posted by  everycritic

It's too bad DeSmith didn't bother contacting Anoka Community Theater or Lakeshore Players. These small companies have done well because they serve folks who don't like driving into the Metro and aren't so concerned with appearing erudite . We may see a rise in (gasp) suburban/neighborhood companies that seek to serve the immediate area. Now won't THAT offend Ms. DeSmith's elitist sensibility!

Jun 14, 2008 09:55 am
 Posted by  CRMJ

Maybe the Twin Cities gained its cultural reputation BECAUSE we live in a community that values organizations like KFAI as much as we do Minnesota Public Radio. I hope we don't turn into a society that doesn't consider it culture unless you pay $80 at the Guthrie or doesn't consider it football unless the players aren't NFL billionaires.

Amateurs aren't ruining theater. $5/gallon. gas is.

Nov 2, 2008 12:04 pm
 Posted by  Charlie Bethel

I lived in Minneapolis for thirteen years, and I must say, the problem with the theatre there isn't oversaturation. It's that there's a lot of organizationally supported mediocrity. Couple this with an under-educated power base who are easily fooled into believing bad equals good, and you have a recipe for expansion of this same mediocrity, and, in the end, a disheartened theatre-going public.

The amateurs aren't ruining anything. The lazy professionals are. If the Twin Cities' arts scene would strive for meritocracy, things might start to change.

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