Cultural Diplomacy


Sorry it’s been a while.  The TEAM just was lucky enough to host the Scottish Minister of Culture last Saturday to our glamorous rehearsal space in Brooklyn.  It was pretty awesome – we did a warm up preparing to construct the new “Overture” we’re making for Architecting and then discussed both process and company.  And one of the things that I talked about was something that I keep bringing up in company meetings, and Jess urged me to blog about it.

I cannot stop thinking about this past June’s TCG conference (which I sadly could not be in attendance for but which I read about extensively in American Theater) and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s keynote speech.  He said “Theater is foreign policy” and spoke about the necessity for artists to consider themselves cultural diplomats in the global community.  I keep turning this thought over and over in my mind, and have realized that the TEAM has ended up doing this without really meaning to.  We first went to Edinburgh in 2005 because we believed we could get reviews there in a way the New York press all but ignores companies working at the level we were at at the time.  But since that time our international touring has grown and grown, and in 2009 we will hopefully be leaving the English speaking world for the first time.

After every performance we invite our audiences to come with us to the theater’s restaurant/bar (or if we’re in America where for some reason few theaters are constructed with public gathering spots, a neighborhood joint) and talk with us about the themes of the play, ask questions or pose challenges.  And again and again we are told when abroad, “I am so relieved to know that there are Americans thinking critically about their country.”  Not in the negative sense, just asking questions.

I am not sure I have anything to add to this discussion…I think the next administration should take Kwei-Armah’s words to heart and subsidize exchange between America and countries/communities around the world.  Theater has to be a part of the process of restoring our nation’s broken image across the globe because by it’s nature it is local and personal.

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