Dallas — Worry is in my job description. I know because I wrote the job description, and God knows I’ve lived it. Honestly, I try not to let my constant, compounding worrying to show as I go about my chores as Theatre Three’s Producer-Director: I’ve been good at faking being “in command” and “under control” since my days in the Army. In the Army I was a blend of two cartoon characters: the naïve Lieutenant Fuzz of Beetle Bailey and Joe Btfsplk, the jinx of Lil’ Abner’s Dogpatch. The convincing cheerfulness I’m told I project, originates in the obligation I feel to bolster morale of all in my vicinity.
I have a kind of New Year’s resolution to stop worrying, particularly about things not really in my control. But on a long list of subjects, I’m failing that resolve dismally. Quite seriously, I am in despair about so many of our country’s politicians (and more than them, their electorate) who have abandoned the notion that government exists to move us forward together toward the common good. As a very active arts advocate, am I, too, just a special interest?
I’ve met a payroll now for—let’s do the math…52 weeks times 52 years…carry the one…oh that’s for two thousand, seven hundred and four weeks. I assure you, that means the habit of worrying about the theater’s money is too well entrenched to vanish.
I’m worried about friends’ health. It’s been a very tough couple of months on that score and Larry O’Dwyer’s death last week crystallized the foreboding. Larry had been my friend and colleague since l962, and a genuine genius (and pain in the ass sometimes) who, more than anyone I’ve known—and I’ve know a lot of special people—was brilliantly unique as an artist and as a creature. (We’ll be reading tributes to him at a memorial service March 24 at 6 p.m. at Theatre Three.)
But there’s one thing I’ve stopped worrying about. However challenged the arts ecology is in Dallas—however insufficient in crucial areas, and however poorly the linking together of effort is made—I’m not worried about the upward direction of the arts. Daily I’m in the presence of passion, industry and integrity at my shop and I see it everywhere I go to be replenished by artists of Dallas. It’s not like I don’t still see pockets of pettiness and unearned vanity: those silly intrigues abound in entertaining quantities. But it doesn’t matter. The ultimate upward direction of the arts is UNSTOPPABLE because of the waves of artists who, with talent and industry churn the tides.
Damnit, that last metaphor got me worried about flooding and global warning. Ah hell, come on with me—let’s take in a show and drown ourselves in pleasure.
◊ Jac Alder is the Executive Director-Producer of Theatre Three in Dallas. Look for his monthly musings in Bit by Bit, which run on the second Sunday of the month (except in March, when it was delayed a bit). Here is a list of previous columns: