There’s already been a huge amount said about Michael Kaiser’s “Millennials Project” article (shortened version: Old Man Yells at Cloud), much of it spot on. It was really baffling to me to see someone as generally savvy as Kaiser come across as such an ageist, elitist cliche, but now that he’s been thoroughly dismantled elsewhere, us Millennials need to remember that the only truly satisfying rebuttal will be to prove him completely wrong by continuing to make theatre that excites and engages our peers. To that end, Max Sparber has a great post detailing just what an opportunity we’re going to have to do so in the next few years:
Many of the artistic directors of these theaters are now nearing retirement age. Other theaters swap out their artistic directors every decade or so, just as a matter of course. And you could take one of those jobs. Yes, you. Because the people who are most likely to get plugged into those positions are the people who can figure out how to rebuild the audience for American theater. If you can sell seats to a younger audience, you’re going to control the future.
It’s easy to forget that “establishment” theatre in this country has really only existed for one, maybe one-and-a-half generations. The whole non-profit, regional system seems so monolithic and all-encompassing that we treat it like it’s always been there, and take its continuing value for granted. Michael Kaiser falls prey to it, and so do I a lot of days, but the time is coming for the guard to change over, and those of us who protest being written off by guys like Kaiser to really step into the forefront. There’s lots of fantastic theatre being done by our generation, for our generation, and as Sparber says, pretty soon everybody making that brand theatre is going to get a chance to really run the show. With any luck we’ll be able to make the transition from spitballing to steering the ship, and when we’re all old and crotchety in fifty years we won’t be sitting alone in our offices, embarrassing ourselves by writing articles about how nobody loves what we love any more.