The financial woes of D.C.’s theater crowd are likely to get worse before they get better. Foundation giving is down, ticket prices are up, and avant garde productions are dropping off the calendar in favor of tested mainstream fare. At the same time, Arena Stage and a few others are investing big bucks in improving their facilities. According to Mike Daisey, the short and pudgy messiah of regional ensembles and the creator and performer of How Theater Failed America, D.C.’s companies have it all backward. Daisey calls for spending more money on creating and nurturing in-house ensembles, and he insists that developing a viable business model means making ticket sales, not donations, the central goal. His feisty monologue isn’t just a searing summation of why theater is in trouble, it’s also a handy (if untested) guide to how to make it better.
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA PLAYS to SUNDAY, JAN. 18, AT WOOLLY MAMMOTH THEATRE, 641 D ST. NW. $25. (202) 393-3939.