Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Give My Regards to Philly

I just read an article on The Playgoer's website about how Broadway is often touted as the measure of success for theater folk. His point is that too many people (especially those outside the business) only think a play is successful if it's on Broadway or going to Broadway.

I can't remember running across this attitude in my career, but then I've never lived in New York City. In fact, since moving to Philly, I've realized how lucky I am to be in a town so supportive of its artistic community. Not only do most Philadelphia actors live and work here (without a lot of traveling to other regional theaters--a hazard of the NY actor), many of the ones I have met make a living exclusively from theater. And several theater artists actually support families with their earnings. It's a far cry from what is described in the article and another reason to take pride in my adopted hometown.

One of the ways that the artistic community is supported is through the Theatre Alliance. This group brings together all the Philly area theaters under one website. Theaters posts job listings, class offerings, auditions, and production information. In addition, the site hosts a listserv for actors to discuss topics ranging from how to critique a show to what is racism in the theater. Many also use the listserv to announce openings, look for long-lost friends, or ask for much needed props. We even have our own version of the Tonys called the Barrymores.

When my family and I decided to move to a city with a more vibrant theater community (Albany has Capital Rep and the New York State Theater Institute, both great places but two theaters do not make a vibrant community), Philly's Theater Alliance made searching for a job a whole lot easier. Washington DC has a ton of theater but I had to visit each theater's website to look for job openings. With the Theatre Alliance it's just click away.

As for patrons, I've met several neighbors who take pride in their season subscriptions to different theaters. I've met some who are loyal to one theater only and others who bounce each season from theater to theater. And not one of them mentions Broadway.

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