Pictured above: Avi Roque/Photo:breezeart PHOTOGRAPHY
Every other week we ask DIY theater artists and creatives around Chicago a question about what’s going on in the DIY theater and performance community.
The world of DIY theater and performance is constantly changing, evolving, ebbing and flowing. Learn about what theater and performance artists are excited for that’s coming to the DIY community in the near future with this week’s question:
“Can a DIY theater space “sell out?” What is selling out? What does that look like?”
Jack Schultz; Collective Director at The Agency Theater Collective:
“Yes. DIY spaces sell out when they’re safely occupied. Standing is okay. Pressing people together in a space where they can’t breathe is dangerous and unnecessary. ”
Avi Roque; DIY Creative/Actor:
“As an observer at times amongst many DIY artists, selling out feels as if it would be against principles and philosophy; selling out defeats the purpose of DIY, ground-breaking, grassroots work. However, visions vary and accessibility matters and if selling out means using a large corporation/business/organization/company to get your work seen, to receive funding, then, that is up to the individual. I just think selling out has such a negative connotation. And what if using the system can be beneficial–using it to gain a platform? The key to that though, that might also be a struggle–that in doing so, how does one keep their voice and intentions, while hopefully not screwing anybody over in the process?”
Denise Yvette Serna; Creator, Director, Facilitator and Activist:
“Selling out is an interesting idea to explore. Why do we resent artists who find commercial success? Is one unable to truly create meaningful art if their work is adored and their pockets full? If a DIY theater or theater artist can uphold its values, artistic merit and symbiotic relationship to the community it serves–and financially support itself in a capitalist society–then why not? That said, if what made the space/creative unique is taken, diluted and redistributed for public consumption in a more conventionally palatable way for the sake of conventional success (money, power, influence)–I’d be more likely to feel they sold out. To abandon one’s convictions, forget one’s roots or align oneself with oppressive forces for the sake of success is not in the spirit of DIY theater.”
Kevin Sparrow; Literary Manager for Nothing Without a Company:
“The main issue here comes down to transparency. Going from a DIY way of working to an outside sponsor can happen, and that doesn’t seem as directly the problem of selling out, as not being honest about how the methods of one’s work has changed. Sell out shouldn’t really be about the production value so much as the ways that one gets funding and their process of being transparent about that funding.”
Gannon Reedy; Artistic Director of Runaways Lab Theater, Game Master of the Neoscum Podcast, Iconoclast:
“Selling out is a pretty loaded term. It’s so hard for an artist to make money doing anything that I say power to anybody who can figure out how to make a buck. Also, being a DIY artist is built out of the necessity to create when you have no money, so by making money, you’re probably not a DIY dude. Which is OK! Good god, I’d like to be making more money. I’m ready to sell out big time. BlueApron.com, hit me up, I got some fuckin’ tight ideas for some devised food performance or whatever.”
Are you a DIY theater artist who likes to answer questions about the work you’re doing in Chicago? Email email@example.com with your interest to be featured on a DIY Quotes from DIY Folx.
Danielle Levsky (she/her/hers) is the Theater Editor of Scapi Magazine. She is a feminist, Jew, poet, essayist, performance artist, and instructional designer. In addition to her work at Scapi, she has covered community news, arts reviews, lifestyle editorials, and cultural events for several publications. Between February 2018-2019, she completed a fellowship where she wrote a collection of community-engaged essays about her identity and heritage. She also writes typewriter poems on demand with Poems While You Wait. Follow her on her poetry Instagram to read some works in progress.