We Don't Aim to Please, Part 2

Local theater leaders bemoan their most persistent obstacles

New Times: What one aspect of theater most inspires you to keep doing the work you do?

Adler: There is no other genre where the audience is such a part of it. If you're in a movie and someone else's cell phone goes off, maybe you are annoyed, but in theater the audience really affects what's happening on stage and vice versa. I don't mean this in the sense of unwrapping a Snickers bar and distracting everyone but in a more mysterious, esoteric sense. There is an intimacy and a nonverbal communication that happens between the audience and the actors that cannot be understood through marketing theories and demographic analysis. Every performance is original and vital. You can't clone it. Two audiences can see the same performance and love it, but one is as quiet as an oil painting and the other is falling in the aisles laughing.

Television and to some extent movies are about maintaining a level of mediocrity. People are going to go to the movies; they are going to watch TV. That's a given, so they often choose the least objectionable thing to watch. This is not the case with theater. It's a much bigger commitment. The audience is a participant. They have a direct effect on the show.

Michael Hall (left) feels right at home at his Caldwell Theatre Company, while Horizon's Ed Saunders is looking for a home
Steve Satterwhite
Michael Hall (left) feels right at home at his Caldwell Theatre Company, while Horizon's Ed Saunders is looking for a home

Hall: Working with truly talented people who are also ensemble players inspires me to keep doing what I do. Designing and rehearsing a play with designers and actors who are true collaborators is exhilarating. I live for the rehearsal process when it's with people who are open, innovative, and pleasant.

Saunders: Everything about theater keeps me coming back, but I suppose the one aspect that I am the most attracted to is the "newness" of it. With each new production, there are new challenges to meet and new worlds to explore. Some people might enjoy having a set routine, but I thrive on knowing that no two productions will ever be the same experience. For that matter neither will any two performances of a given production. This feeling of undergoing a never-ending journey, with new challenges and discoveries at every turn, is what most makes the theater exciting and rewarding to me.

De Acha: Theater is about people, with people, to people. It's an immediate and present act. With movies you create something you can put in a can and show months later. Not so with theater. As you are creating up there on that stage, your act of creating is being witnessed simultaneously. This makes it a very vulnerable process with more possibility for anything to happen -- errors, transformations, even miracles.

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