Transience and Time: Loss in our theatre community

Infinity-Time1The problem with life is that it is so daily. The daily needs of making a living, feeding our relationships,  participating in our communities, and (one hopes) attempting to create a little theater here and there, can become so REQUIRED that we forget to take stock of how things are changing and developing around us.

And then, after all of that mesmerizing day-to-day-ness of our lives, we shake our heads, open up our eyes, and realize that the world has changed. Even if just a little bit.

I’ve lost track of time and also of the many things that have gone on since I last posted here. I could go on about the shift in my creative life, but we’ll save that for another post. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the ways in which our creative communities are actually very transient and change over time.

In our collective creative world, seasons really are exactly that. One season can come and go without a blip.  The creative offerings are fine, even of high quality, but nothing much gets shaken up.  Some seasons can be terribly boring or downright depressing. Then a season can come along and jolt us awake, stimulating our potential and our expectations.


Recently, some of the veterans of our theater communities have talked about how their theater communities have changed over the years. They’ve talked about how tight-knit their communities were (like families) and how they squabbled but they kept going to do the work. In so many ways, our current communities aren’t like that anymore. We’ve had to give some of that up in order to accommodate the wider variety of theater offerings in Fresno and Visalia. A broader scene with more options also means a scene that is less cohesive in general. Time changes that.

Transience also has an effect.  It is pretty clear with the recent removals (or planned removals) of several local talents that none of us have any right to expect things to stay the same interminably.  Even evolving personal relationships can change that. How many talents have relocated because of a committed relationship or a career opportunity outside of the theater? The transience of young people leaving for opportunities in LA, The Bay Area or New York happens frequently, and yet we always seem surprised when it comes.

We feel these losses keenly in our creative lives. To those of us staying, it can seem excruciatingly frustrating to have to relearn the community, to develop a new shorthand, and to watch less polished performers struggle to learn their trade. We also just miss those connections with our friends.

And at this point, we have to have faith that Time and Transience– the things that robbed us of our precious talent and community — will make us whole again. Because with Time and Transience, new artists will arrive, up and comers will gain skill and insight, audiences will find new favorites, and we will become awake again with something new. New relationships and new views on the world.

And isn’t that artistic in its own right? Anne Bogart (Artistic Director of SITI Company) wrote in her book, And Then You Act: Making Art in an Unpredictable World: “And so I began to recognize an even deeper truth: the experience of art is ephemeral. The experience cannot and does not endure in the same intensity. We go back to sleep. The alertness slackens, and we return to habit and somnambulism. The transience of the art experience is unavoidable because we are human. This is not a sad thing, but rather a truth thing. . . I needed to learn to embrace the paradox of the permanent versus the impermanent, to enjoy it, to practice it, to savor the moment, to celebrate the ephemeral and not to be afraid of it. Transience and Time must be an ally rather than an enemy.”

Beautifully put, Anne! Indeed.  (Read Anne’s Blog, if you like). 

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One comment

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