Catharsis + rebirth

By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  September 16, 2009

And of course, several veteran companies are still doing what they have been for years. These include Portland Stage Company, Mad Horse, the Theater at Monmouth, the Theater Project, Portland Players, the Ogunquit Playhouse, and the Maine State Music Theatre. Levine is encouraged not just by their continuance, but by the level of cross-pollination that has increasingly brought together actors from these and newer companies. The result, he says, is a fertile and more diverse theater community than there was 10 years ago.

What Levine hopes for the next 10 years includes more deliberate celebrations of the theater community that has recently surged, such as festivals, and possibly even a shared, co-op board-managed center for the arts. Such developments might help solve what he sees as the big mystery: how to get theater into the mainstream arts consumer's consciousness, on a level with, say, Portland's music scene.

In the thoughts of Chris Price, theater should do so without resigning itself to offering mere "entertainment." He's concerned that insufficient arts funding on both local and national levels too often makes box-office revenue the bottom line, frequently at the expense of truly challenging programming.

But perhaps from the vibrant and growing diversity of our theater scene there might arise, in the next decade, movements in the community toward coalition: to pool resources, advocate and educate, and create more opportunities for experimental, provocative, and difficult productions — in short, to help us sustain not just our theater, but our culture.

Megan Grumbling can be reached at mgrumbling@hotmail.com.

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