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Program Director Note: What If?

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2016

By Dale Albright

 TBA program director Dale Albright.

Warriors fever! Even people who are not necessarily basketball fans (or even sports fans) can find themselves swept up in rooting for and following the Golden State Warriors’ record-setting season and push for the NBA title. This enthusiasm permeates conversations everywhere. While I am certainly not a sports fan (I’m just happy I knew that the Warriors play basketball), it was the one thing that my barber and I could talk about last week during my haircut. It’s the lead story of almost every newscast or newspaper. You would quickly lose count if you tried to count items of Warriors merchandise that you pass on the street. Folks from both ends of the political spectrum can agree that the home sports team is worth rooting for—not only because it brings people together, but also because it encourages hometown pride, functions as an economic engine in and of itself and just plain is a source of excitement and fun. And who can argue against that huge parade, should they win the championship?

I can’t help but think how great it would be to have just a fraction of that for theatre in the Bay Area. In an age of decreasing arts coverage in print and virtually no mention of the arts in other media (save a lot of dedicated bloggers), theatre checks every box mentioned above and then some. Why does it always feel like we are begging for scraps of attention in the media and from the public at large?

This month, I had the pleasure of hearing Todd London present a moving keynote address at the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO) convening in Seattle. (Check out his frequent and glowing shout-outs to Theatre Bay Area!) The very first item on London’s list of favorite lessons learned from the artists in his life is, “Begin with ‘what if?’” He goes so far as to say that that question “may be the best question around.” But earlier in his address, he asks probably the largest “what if” of all: “What if we in the arts are the people standing between the fall and survival of a civil society?” Talk about blowing sports out of the water on the relevance spectrum.

I’m fascinated by that question: “what if?” I hope that you are too. It’s the beginning of the creation of every piece of art, isn’t it? It’s imbedded in the heart of Theatre Bay Area’s strategic plan (which itself was fueled by a listening tour throughout the field, asking the question “What if you were starting a theatre service organization today?”).  It’s a vital and powerful beginning to question what we assume to be true.

What if our local theatre scene carried the same weight in the general population as the Warriors?

What if?



Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, as well as an actor and freelance director. 


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