After reading the article by Peter Maradudin [“No Place for an Artist,” May 2004], I was moved to write a response to him personally. Here is my letter and his response.

Dear Peter,

I just wanted to let you know that after reading your articles in Entertainment Design, you are my f — -ing hero.

I wanted to let you know that you had the cajones to say in print what everyone says on dinner breaks in quiet corners of restaurants. As a new member of the theatre community, I have felt the exact sentiment that you have expressed so succinctly, and I believe, truly, that all the regional theatres in this country should be destroyed in hopes of discovering a new form of theatre that is resonant to the community. Having come into the industry at the end of the regional movement (late 80s) and slowly watching it decline, I feel a deep sense of disappointment in its demise but know in my heart that the soul of theatre is as large and powerful as its history. It is a vibrant entity which will not be extinguished from our culture as long as our culture survives, but it is in sad shape at the moment and severely needs a rejuvenation.

Now that the glove has been thrown on the ground and your article written, there will be (hopefully) responses to it: critics will write and take opposite opinion; counter editorials will fly; discussions will emerge; tempers will flair; feelings will be hurt; egos will be bashed; difficulties will be faced; artists young and old will be forced to have thoughtful and meaningful discussions regarding this issue: and, God willing, the theatre community will shake itself out of its safe, easy, stale, business oriented mindset and challenge itself to not only make itself something we as artists can be proud of, but something that our communities can look at and say, “we are proud of you.” This is not an easy task, but, as artists, we must understand that theatre is not easy; it is not clean; it is not safe. It is dangerous, it is dirty, and it is difficult, and isn't it true that the most personally rewarding pieces of work are the ones that we work the hardest at and are the most difficult? Whatever the outcome, you have my support.
Aaron Black, Aaron Black Design Studio
New York, NY

Aaron,

I am delighted that your response to the article is exactly what I hoped for: rather than hang one's head in despair, recognize that the article is a challenge — “the glove thrown to the ground.”

I have gotten a ton of responses to the article but few as cogent as yours. Just so you know, out of all the emails I have received, only two have been challenges — both from managing directors who felt that I had painted them as “bad guys.” Otherwise, the response has been overwhelmingly in favor of what I had to say.

So, don't let it get you down. Instead, work with those of us who give a damn, and get American theatre back on track.
Peter Maradudin, Principal, Visual Terrain, Inc.