And so I join the ranks of the theatre bloggers nationwide from right here in Central Iowa. It seems like the right thing to do at the right time.
For many years, Des Moines has seemed cut off from the rest of the world and even the rest of the State. Having lived and worked here now for the past 15 years, I've found myself falling into that seclusive mindset on occasion. Some people who've lived here all their lives are fine with this way of thinking and the island Des Moines seems to have created for itself. But in many ways, that is beginning to change. Revitalization of the Downtown has created new living space, new restaurants, and new shopping boutiques. Young professionals are moving in and a creative working class is emerging. People who aren't from here are beginning to take notice of some of these changes as evidenced by the New York Times article on Des Moines' "East Village" during the Iowa Caucuses.
But there seems to remain, at least among the vast majority of those in the performing arts community, a pervading attitude of seclusiveness when it comes to growing a professional market here. I can't say for sure exactly what this stems from, but it seems to be a combination of insecurity and low self-esteem. Outside influence is often seen as a threat. And collaboration is a foreign concept to people who participate only to feed their own self-serving egos. I imagine some of these problems exist in other markets as well. But it is especially frustrating in a market where very few professional opportunities exist for performing artists.
The overwhelming majority of people who perform in the theatre here do so because of the communal aspect of it, because it's "fun" and because they enjoy the applause. Some straddle the line, doing commercial work on occasion for the money and exposure. The rest are students who perform theatre to gain experience and do commercial work for the money until they finish their degrees and move somewhere like Chicago, New York, or LA where they can get "real" experience. Still, there remains a small fraction of folks that choose to live here who live, breath, eat, and sleep the art of the theatre and who are provided with absolutely no opportunities for professional development. That has to change.
One of the things I realized after joining the Twitter.com community is that it is possible (and in fact fairly easy) to network with those of like minds and similar professions throughout the state, the country and even the world. It's not that I didn't know this before (I've been using the Internet since 1993 for Pete's sake), it's just that the sudden accessibility that Twitter provided re-awoke the cosmopolitan in me. So now I'm tossing my two cents in the pot and joining the blogosphere... or in this case the theatrosphere.
A little about me at the present moment: I am currently unemployed thanks to downsizing and the current economy. Until May of 2008, I held a day job with a motion picture equipment facility. Now I do freelance film/video production. I have been acting and performing in the theatre now for over ten years and occasionally manage to make some money doing it. I consider myself a life-long student of the craft and have managed to "hook up" with like-minded individuals who have committed to bringing a professional repertory theater to Iowa's capitol city. This blog will exist in part to expound on some of the company's and my own personal endeavors as well as comment on the state of the arts in general both here in Central Iowa and the nation at large.
Comments are welcome and encouraged at home and abroad.