The Only State That Starts With “TEN”.

(The title of this blog is a reference to something my brother said when he was about five…)

I grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa until I was about seven years old, and I returned there for a brief stint in what many will laughingly refer to as my “college years”. While I was there, I did two shows with the Iowa City Community Theater, and actually rediscovered my love of acting. Apparently, every few years I have to give up acting and then, at some point, fall in to an opportunity that send me back out with headshots and 16 bars at the ready. My two shows at ICCT did just that, at exactly the right time.

Now, I have been trudging through theater blogs for the last month. I don’t really have an opinion about where public money should go, I feel like old age has robbed me of the ability to get too worked up about my government, and I’ve never felt like any organization, public or private, has done a lot to personally help me tell better stories, so I let smarter and more passionate people worry about it.

But I have been reading the blogotheatrosphere, and I’ve felt just crappy about it. I can’t really address the problems of big city vs. small city theater, I can’t really formulate a response to the problems facing actors and playwrights of different ethnicities, I’m not sure I even have a say in what women are doing in the theater. My exhaustion has the stink of self-congratulation, I know that, but instead of being inspired by the conversations around me, my blog has run aground. I’m capable of talking about theater, but I’m not capable of talking about talking about theater.

In the middle of all of this, I check out a blog on my blogroll called Iowa Theatre and read a review of Wonderful Town that makes me dizzy. And look at the sidebar, just see what is available to you if you live in Iowa City, IA. In the surrounding counties, there are about 150k people, who are within driving distance of these shows.

Queens County has a population of 2.3 million. And if you live in my county, you very often go to *neighboring* counties to see theater…

So, if we were still in Iowa City, we could go see Wonderful Town, with full orchestra and great sets and costumes, for $17. At Riverside Theater, also in Iowa City, they’re doing “End Days”. Dreamwell Theater, ALSO IN IOWA CITY, is doing Poona The Fuckdog, for twelve bucks. Also, coming up is The Producers and a Neil Simon play.

Sure, these shows are running for one or two weekends. But they’re running, right? The plays exist, the actors are there, and audience shows up. Iowa City has about 70k people at any given time, and there are theater companies doing standards, and doing outrageous shit, and they are all selling tickets. There are A BUNCH of theater companies. And I’m not even counting all the theater at the University of Iowa, or Cornell. Or Kirkwood Community College…

I don’t know… I don’t know that there’s an answer here. I have just felt like I couldn’t write anything because it seems like there aren’t any answers, that minority communities are disrespected, that that actors and playwrights are feeling like there aren’t any opportunities, like theater is, yet again, either dying or is already dead. And then there are a lot of people who… just… keep making plays, because they forgot to check in and find out that the whole system is totally screwed.

I don’t want to live in Iowa City. I mean, that’s not true, I *DO* want to live in Iowa City. But right now, my home is in New York, my family’s here, my friends, my whole life. But I want to produce theater as if I live in Iowa City. I want to tell my stories, have them run for as long as is sustainable, and then go back and find more scripts. If a lot of people are doing it in the middle of Iowa, then I’m pretty sure I can do it here.