Thursday, April 16, 2009


I click around a lot. I'm not ashamed of that. Recently I've been starting at the "Theatre in Chicago" entry at Wikipedia and clicking through the websites of companies I like, or about which I'm interested in learning, or the ones with the neatest names, or the ones with the most obnoxious names.

I've found that theatre company Mission Statements are better than celebrity upskirts to entertain and make one feel self-righteous at the same time.

As far as I can tell (and to protect the guilty I'm not going to parade examples in front of you--you'll just have to go exploring) there are a global total of five different mission statements in the theatre:

1. Our mission is to get you to attend our plays using the most popular artistic keywords possible.

2. Our mission is to get you to click off this page without reading it, daunted to embarrassment by the 1500-word block of text in front of you.

3. Our mission is to meet 501 (c)(3) requisites by having a Mission Statement and a Board.

4. Our mission is to fix what's wrong with the world through make-believe,

and (the deadliest one of all, but far too common among the newer companies and some of the older ones)

5. Our mission is to fix what's wrong with theatre. We know you hate it and we're here to rescue you.

Tell me, is there anyone out there who has mastered the Mission Statement? Are some of the Mission Statements I've seen really good, and I just missed something? What does a good one look like? Are there a million other blogs out there that have already put this issue to bed? (If there are, please send me and about 300 Chicago Theatre Companies the link.) I know, I know, I missed all the pertinent workshops at the Expo the other weekend. Right now, though, I wonder if the Mission Statement should be left entirely to the grant applications and the board meetings and far far away from the ticket-purchasing public. I wonder if the only public statement a company should make is "Come see three of our plays and then tell us what we're doing."* I wonder if anything other than that is limiting and artificial and dangerous. I'm not saying any more...more than any post heretofore, I really want you to sound off on this. Go!

*I think that our own Halcyon (which IMHO has a pretty stomachable Mission if it's a little nebulous) has almost been doing that in an implicit way for a while. I wonder if we could just formalize that, T.


  1. One thing that amuses me greatly is the fact that most company members can't even recite their own mission statement -- and some freely admit they don't even know what it means.

    I think the best mission statement can be boiled down to this: Have fun. We'll have fun, you'll have fun, everyone has fun.

    How can you go wrong with that?

  2. Mighty Mighty MelodyApril 16, 2009 at 8:30 PM

    Many theater companies say they only accept plays that "match their mission statement." Ponder *that* conundrum for a moment. Feel like shooting heroine into your eyeballs?! Welcome to the wonderful world of the Fledgling Playwright.

  3. Most Companies dont want missions, they want grants and tax deductable donations.

  4. "WNEP Theater generates original work casting a critical eye on American values, culture, and perspectives by presenting the grotesque as beautiful, the mundane as unexpected, and asking its audience to change its role from spectator to participant."

    I kind of like that one.