The Playgoer: Hail the Philanthropist

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hail the Philanthropist

I'm as happy as anyone for Oregon Shakespeare Fest's windfall of free software courtesy of a Microsoft-connected donor. But I've been puzzled all morning by what the Times angle is in running this story today. Celebrating regional theatre? Great! Educating us about the possibilities of technical advances in lighting on how it unleashes new artistic creativity? Interesting!

But then at the end of the piece you read this:

Mr. Schroeder [the donor], meanwhile, is still making the six-hour trip from the Bay Area every year. (One advantage of driving, he said, is that he and his wife can take their large, heavy espresso machine, set it up in their hotel room and serve coffee and bagels each morning to a group of friends who make the trek with them.)

Yes, this is we need in theatre coverage now: theatre as the enclave of the conspicuous- consumption elite. Thanks again, NYT.

When there's more info about latte's than letters in an article about a theatre company... you know what's up. It is the benevolent microchip millionaire, not the Bard, who is the true hero here. (Mr. Schroeder gets a photo, too.) Almost as if Oregon's--or Microsoft's--pr reps planted this story themselves. The story is basically the reward for the gift. This is what arts coverage is becoming, I fear, an extension of the old "society" page. Google the number of "arts" stories about fundraising & donor tributes and you'll see what I mean.

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