Update: I'm going to try to get Chris to write his thoughts on this, as well, because I'm not the only mouthpiece for GreyZelda - he's got his own ideas and some differ greatly with mine. I'll see if I can encourage him. He's the writer in the family after all. RZ
The Chicago theatre scene is alive with hundreds of theatres lifting their voices in inspiration, but are we really be heard? Or are the voices getting lost in the noise?
So many start-up companies ... our theatre company started up in the same way ... Chris and I had a vision we shared. He got me, I got him, so we thought, "Hey! Let's start a theatre company because we feel we can do what we do better ourselves then with another group of people who will argue with our vision, therefore our ideas would be sacrificed to another's lesser idea. We work hard and we know we push ourselves hard. " We've had people join us as members who work with us show by show and we're slowly growing, but we share a lot of our collaborators with other theatre companies our size who do similar work as us. Chris and I double our work load because we can't seem to find collaborators who are as passionate as we are at making GreyZelda a successful creation and who only want to focus on our theatre company. I think a lot of our peers have the same problem.
I believe that there are other theatre companies around our size that share the same vision, but we refuse to start a dialogue. I feel the fear just sitting here typing. I want to do it my way. I don't know if I'll like your way. Creativity is such a fragile egg. By starting a dialogue, I'm going to have to speak with someone who might disagree with me. That's scary to an artist. We want to create our warm caves of creative growth. But there are so many caves out there right now and in each of those caves are a handful of collaborators thinking that they know how to do it better than me and maybe they do, maybe they don't. As the Desiderata states there are always those lesser and greater than me. Why do I gag myself from opening myself up to a new possibility? To something bigger and greater than me and mine.
What I'd really like is to be able to have our company absorb with other companies and we could become a SUPER COMPANY. I'm currently working for a company who did just that. I'm talking about my day-job here. They wanted to become bigger so they purchased smaller staffing companies. The company I initially started working for in January has now become something new and all of a sudden, we have new employees and more business opportunities. The company I'm working for now is looking to purchase more small staffing companies in the Chicago market to become bigger and better. Being on the non-profit circuit and dealing with creative egos makes that idea a little tricky. I've started tentative conversations with other theatre companies about this very thing, but it always comes back to the egos and how we can't quite give our initial vision up nor are we willing to compromise. There's a fear. Everyone wants to be in charge. So, we just keep trudging along, competing with each other, and mourning the fact that our audiences aren't bigger, the critics aren't coming, the money's too tight, blah blah blah. We want to build a tribe but have a hard time inviting others or approaching others to see if they'd like us to offer our talents up. Everyone wants to be in the driver's seat.
If we morphed together, like The Blob, say .... who knows what we could accomplish?
But, like weeds, new, teeny-tiny theatre companies keep cropping up in Chicago's fertile creative grounds ... I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but I speak to a lot of peers in the storefront theatre world of Chicago and I think .... we all want the same thing .... why don't we just try working together and pooling our resources like most normal businesses? Why do we all continue to isolate ourselves from each other?
I'd welcome any thoughts on this, blogging friends.