I was still full of theatre-inspired insight when I willingly yoked myself to the regime at Cosanti and I regularly badgered Paolo about the importance of drama and theatre. Really, at every opportunity. He wasn't completely convinced, I think, but he did not respond negatively when Lloyd Kiva New and Charles Loloma came to call, when those two gifted Native artists came to Cosanti to commission Paolo to design and build for them a performing space in Santa Fe, on the site of what was then the Institute of American Indian Arts, the IAIA.
I'm still convinced of the importance of theatre and want to see the comprehensive performing arts program developed, there in Santa Fe, as Lloyd and Charles envisioned, one that will make optimal use of that wonderful structure of Paolo's. But I'd think that even if I were not a die-hard about theatre.
Having - pace-Cosanti - put aside my ambition to create a life for myself in the professional theatre did not mean I knew what I wanted to do instead. Eventually, the profession called Social Work found and claimed me, but rest assured, even that has its theatrical side. A project I worked on in the 1980s (before Social Work school), which I called TheatreWorks, allowed a team of theatre-trained, performance-minded people, all of whom lived in a small town in the interior of BC, to work with a group of theatre-interested high school kids to create an original musical. I was happy that the grant I wrote make it possible for the team to work with the kids as salaried professionals rather than unpaid volunteers; plus as co-director and co-producer, I got to help devise the improv, the creative drama, and vocal training exercises.
Theatre is a team effort - like architecture, in a way - despite Ayn Rand's contrary notion.
I have, upon occasion, been solely responsible for a production as drama coach or theatre director. Truth be known, I enjoy coaxing performance out of people and have done that in community theatre and at theatre school, during which I worked deliberately and specifically with non-theatre students, much to the frustration of the head of school, who wanted his students to use as actors only people enrolled or working in the theatre department's program. It disgruntled him that I felt and believed theatre can and should be created outside the community of professional theatre, and that I didn't entertain challenges to my conviction that creating theatre with people in the greater community was completely worthy of ambition.
There wasn't - there still isn't - any doubt in my mind that theatre is an entirely worthwhile thing to do, wherever and however possible. In point of fact, it takes all kinds of people working together to make theatre (or architecture) happen. Broad picture people. Detail-oriented people. Gofers. Gadabouts. Critics, too. And/or detractors. With Theatreworks, I schemed to involve the whole community, and friends in that community abetted my mission. I was successful with my mission because we - the whole team but particularly Judith Ann Maltz and I, to begin with - were able to coax responsiveness out of the community.
So, to go back to where this started, I didn't envision myself vocationally pursuing a life outside the professional theatre but - things happened, as things do. My last high school year in summer stock, witnessing some of the seamier sides of the lives of people in the professional theatre, also had an effect, probably served to demotivate me into valuing the skills without also necessarily wishing or needing to live out my own life within its confines.
Perhaps that was also why I was receptive to Paolo's amazingly dramatic architectural forms and forum at first encounter. I can count myself lucky that drama and performance were a given, for me, and I accept the necessity for sharing those skills, up to and including in clinical practice. (Before TheatreWorks, I helped my friend Connie Hargrave propose a drama training company for handicapped persons, which we called Theatre Terrific and which is still alive and well.) But the question I have now is: How will all this help to solve the pressing problems for which Paolo proposed arcology as a solution?
I think it simply leads to the dramatic necessity of being open to innovation, to change, to having to improvise, which applies in many areas. As one who has become transportation challenged (I am no longer licensed to drive, nor do I routinely use skates or a bicycle to get around) I can and do use public transportation (bus, subway, train, ferry, etc) as a matter of course. My visual field deficit renders me officially legally blind, makes it dangerous to drive, propel myself on wheels in traffic where I'd be quite a danger to myself or others.
When I asked Paolo a few years ago if he thought arcology is achievable without public transit. I was relieved but not surprised when he agreed that it is not. (Paolo's quite a smart guy.) How to achieve this may be high drama, though.