AMERICAN THEATRE

ROOM TO GROW IN ARIZONA

ARIZONA IS KNOWN FOR ITS BROAD, SWEEPING VISTAS; rocky mountains that tower above the clouds, only to give way to canyons sculpted by winds and rain; endless expanses of open desert; and vast blue skies that start shifting colors an hour before the sun sets. When monsoon clouds gather on the horizon, we are gifted with some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world. Those clouds also bring lightning, micro-bursts, and flash floods. It’s a daily reminder that drama here isn’t just about people—it’s about people struggling to survive against the backdrop of a beautiful, and often volatile, environment.

The beauty of the landscape, and the room to grow, have brought theatre artists and administrators to Arizona to make their lives and their art. While some were born here, newcomers arrive in waves, searching for something they couldn’t find elsewhere. Just as the weather shapes the landscape, the challenges that Arizona theatremakers face—a transient population, diverse cultures, and finite resources—compel us to adjust to our environment. We’re challenged to think in new ways, and to develop new approaches to our work and our communities. While other states have a more fixed identity, Arizona is still trying to figure out who it is. Those of us who live here are playing an active role in helping to shape its future. (Phoenix was to be the site of Theatre Communications Group’s annual conference in June; visit circle.tcg.org/tcg20 for information about TCG’s two-part virtual conference, May 6-8 and June 2-5.)

The youngest of the conterminous states, Arizona was added to the union on Feb. 14, 1912. Today its capital, Phoenix, is among the five largest cities in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it was the fastest-growing city in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018, tying with San Antonio, Texas, the year before. Yet Phoenix is an anomaly. While this steady flow of people would appear to offer endless opportunities for theatres to expand their audiences, as well as their donor bases, reaching them has proven challenging.

“To reach these new residents,

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