EARLY IN MY TENURE AS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF PLAYWRIGHTS HORIZONS, I attended a leadership retreat in which one of the speakers shared the idea that “Community is where we come to give of ourselves.” In the last fifty years or so, the community of the American theater has prospered most when it has embodied that generosity of spirit. Having spent my entire professional career at a writer’s theater, I am convinced that no one group has given more to this broad community than our working playwrights. The American theater has grown and prospered from their collective work, work that disrupts consensus, celebrates individuality, elevates self-reflection, and spreads laughter. But many career playwrights feel excluded from the theaters they have helped to build. They continue to grow as artists and might be writing the most nuanced, mature plays of their careers, but can’t even get them read. They deserve better.
These are heady times in the American theater. We have been called to accelerate the rate at which we diversify our work. We are called to question business as usual in our producing practices. We hold up radical inclusivity as a core value. But we must also reject the otherization and marginalization of our elders. Our writers are excited to see the theater transforming in this way. It feels like a dream come true. Yet at the same time, many are also bewildered that right at this high point so many feel jettisoned. So our group suggests a different model, embodied by a different image. For us, THE TENT feels right. It feels like a metaphor for an American Theater that is generous, democratic, celebratory and can-do. Now is not the time to shut doors but to open wide the tent. We have so much to learn from each other and give to each other. Let wisdom and joy prevail!
THE TENT THEATER COMPANY nurtures, supports, and advocates for American playwrights and cross-disciplinary theater makers over the age of 60, fostering connections among them and promoting their artistry and wellness to the larger community. The Tent rests upon the three pillars of Artistic Support, Service, and Advocacy to celebrate and attend to writers in the totality of their artistic journeys.
THE TENT WILL commission a survey to quantify the age demographics of working playwrights throughout the USA to further comprehend their challenges and needs
WE WILL facilitate opportunities for financial planning seminars
WE WILL join and foster cooperation of groups investigating health care initiatives for writers and work with these partners to make sure the specific challenges of elder writers are identified and addressed
WE COMMIT to annual support for the artistic activities of our members
WE WILL present six to eight
one day readings
WE WILL produce one or two
rehearsed readings (29 hours)
WE AIM to produce one production
THE WRITERS WILL continue to share work with each other in writers groups and at Tent Gatherings.
THE TENT WILL reach out to artistic leaders throughout the country to promote its mission, raise awareness about ageism in the theater, and offer guidance regarding these issues.
WE WILL seek commitments from our colleagues to produce writers from The Tent’s roster or elder writers from their specific communities
WE WILL work to subsidize residencies for writers during the course of their rehearsal and production period