Sunday, June 3, 2012

CHANGE: Steady State, and The Pace of Change


So the question that comes to me is: what if this is it? A lot of us invest a lot of time in being semi-professionally upset about things. We want change! We want it now! What if, though, there won't be any significant changes? What if the new movement in theatre is here, it's now established and this is it? We've landed at Steady State: Broadway is a place for mass entertainments at a price set for tourists, Off-Broadway and the regionals will continue to cater to an aging, upper-middle class audience with the occasional feint in the direction of diversity, the indie scene will remain largely segregated by class, race, gender and sexuality with occasional cross-pollination, and theatre will, in general, continue to hover in this place, this narrow, wobbly space between being a luxury good for cultural elites and something that connects to a wider audience. What if that's what we can expect for the duration? It does seem fairly resistant to change. Oh, we have our little flare-ups, dust-ups, scandals, donnybrooks, but pretty quickly, order is restored. The natural order of things re-asserts itself and the whole system spins on. 
So. What if this is it? What do we do then?
That's the question that anyone who wants to create change will always wonder -- whether what we want to change can actually change, or whether we're running down the game clock.

I've wondered it about theater. I've wondered it about personal relationships -- addictions, personal failings. I've wondered it about politics.

In politics, we often see a lot of strongly engrained systems that seem difficult, if impossible to move. The United States political system remains largely driven by monied interests, even in the centuries that have passed since only landed white gentry could vote. And yet, from time to time, surprising things happen and things change. Unfortunately, there's a 50/50 chance you won't like that change.

The real question is, what's the pace of change? From year to year, everything seems remarkably resistant to change. But within 100 years, we can see some pretty big changes.

Personally, I'm not afraid that what we have is a Steady State. I'm more afraid that I'll have to wait a long time for change, and once we've waited for that change it won't be what we wanted.

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