I am a theater worker from New York City with close to 50 years of experience in theater and dance and, while I cannot speak to Oregon, I do understand theater.
Theater works have always been subject to labels such as serious, commercial, comedy, musical, but if we really examine the origins of theater it stems from the idea of a need for catharsis, the purification and purgation of emotions through dramatic art, or it may be any extreme emotional state that results in renewal and restoration.
Looks like Ms. Garrett has succeeded. The questions raised in the op ed are the fears and sometimes true economic realities that accompany change. As a breast cancer survivor, there is an odd parallel between individuals addressing their own process to getting rid of a disease and society having to resolve its problems.
First is the disruption and fear of the unknown — the self questioning — then, indeed, the economic obstacles, but then comes recovery, where suddenly you are you but you are perhaps improved from the self-reflection.
Shakespeare, because it is a part of the national curriculum, can be a lovely entry point for theater and can create a lovely foundation for theater companies to introduce something new. To a certain extent, if the goal is to have returning audiences, you do need to shake up the roster, because how many Hamlets can a person see per year?
In terms of catharsis, America’s distinctive feature of being multicultural benefits from open discussion so that fears and misconceptions can be addressed and, as the op ed and the death threats indicate, the community is ripe for catharsis.
Regarding the town’s economy and question whether these new audiences will book hotel rooms — a valid point and a nice opportunity for the community to work together. Trust me, if events like Coachella or many of the similar festivals are an indicator, there are people ready to travel for artists they admire.
New York City