Rat Conference Sidebar Quotes

compiled by Mary DeDanan

"The name makes it impossible to hype the thing. You can't get too tony about the Rat Conference." Erik Ehn (Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco).

"All of us are here because we're looking for new ways of engagement." Howard Shalwitz (Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington, D.C.).

"The fringe is the center." Chris Jeffries (Annex Theatre, Seattle).

"Volunteer does have this perjorative, dilettante feeling in the world. But I'm completely ready to the marginal to the dominant culture. We're not doing it wrong because we're not making a lot of money." Andrea Allen, Annex).

"I want to stay motivated from the heart rather than jobbing in scenery." Mike Shapiro (Annex)

"Because the resources are so small, it's important to have a clear idea of all the different strategies that are open to us. I'm in the biz of making the impossible possible." Jim Chesnutt (Annex).

"I'm never going to be rich. My company's never to be rich, money-wise. But if I try to deal in a different currency, the currency of spirit and vision and passion and beauty and integrity, I am so rich." K. Ruby (Wise Fool Puppet Intervention, San Francisco).

"It's great that there's so many people over 25 still committed It's hard to keep things going when you want to have a life." Allison Narver (who's pushing her early 30s [Annex]).

"There's a refreshing lack of smugness in this crowd."
"That's because we're so good." Anonymous.

"I want to work on setting up some sort of mechanism so we can swap ideas, work, and know that what we're doing is not going to live and die in this black box." Matt Sweeney (Annex).

"Everything your company does is marketing. It telling people about these performances and telling lies about them." Jason Neulander, (Salvage Vanguard Theater, Austin).

"Theater has to be performed where it's banned. The audience should boo you a lot. Otherwise you're not doing your work." Nick Fracaro (Thieves Theatre, Brooklyn).

"Only the most generous schmoozing could happen. No money was going to be gained by anyone. That made it really pleasant, heightened the possibilities of what people could talk about. It made it honest. Where else could you have a discussion of failures? You couldn't do it with funders there." Steve Cosson (Smart Mouth Theater, San Francisco).

"What is niche, what feeds you--cultural payback--audience/artist releationship" worth looking for on tape. Steve Cosson (Smart Mouth Theatre, San Francisco)

"A lot of what happens starts with coffee. That's why it's important we make a point of finding each other." Anonymous (a freelance director from Seattle who showed up for a couple hours)

"Live theatre is promoted as if it's a mass medium, and it ain't a mass medium. Take some bullshit play like Chorus Line, which ran forever on Broadway, add up all the people who saw it in all the years it ran, and if all those people saw it Sunday night on Fox, it would be canceled. What we do is infinitesimally tiny, and extraordinarily potent. If we embrace that, then we have a political responsibility to survive." Gerry Stropnicky (Bloomsberg Theatre Ensemble, Pennsylvania).

"I want to remind people of words like 'pleasure.' We exist in such a pleasureable medium. While 'responsibility' is a word I deeply believe in, it's also a heavy word sometimes. It's very fun to do what we do. We bring pleasure to people. It's not a burden." Karl Gajdusek (Theater E, San Diego).

"The future of theater is the personal impact of very specific theater. It's community theater: theater that is by communities, for communities, whether it is defined socio-economically, whether it is a literal town or ethnic group, or built around an aesthetic." Mark Lutwak (Rain City Projects, Seattle).

"Our goal is not to understand each other, but to demonstrate ourselves to each other." Erik Ehn.

"We're never going to solve everything in five hours. It's the beginning. We have the rest of our lives." Allison Narver.

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