Slowing Down

By Julie Hennrikus

Slow food. Locally grown. Sustainable. Creating new economies. Cultivating a new palate. Invigorating a community based appreciation for food on many levels.

The slow food movement is about creating a community based approach to food so that people will think about locally grown, and go out of their way to support it. Parallels to theater are obvious. And exciting. And inspiring. And challenging. Once you start to explore the parallels you understand the complexity of the issues. Because slow food may be more expensive. More difficult to find. Not the current taste. So the paradigm needs to shift. You can’t ignore these issues. You have to address them.

And then blow past them.

Boston Theater is changing. Morphing into something bigger, and broader. Its own slow movement. We can toss around words like locally grown and sustainable. We can count the number of theater related jobs, both direct and indirect, and graph their impact on the economy. And we can project into the future. Or can we? Because while we make the case for locally grown and sustainable, and we talk around community, but we need to stop and pause. And talk about what all that really means. What is sustainable mean for a company, or an individual? Is it measured economically, or by satisfaction? Does the satisfaction of theater artist mean as much or more than audience satisfaction? What does that mean, anyway?

There is concern about the viability of theater. Of course there has been concern about the viability of theatre for the past hundred plus years since more forms of entertainment have become part of the lexicon. And while these concerns are valid on the one hand, on the other hand isn’t that part of the challenge? Why do we need to justify our viability as an entertainment option? How about if we show, rather than tell? We shift the paradigm by helping everyone buy into the idea of a slow theater community.

Framing the Boston Theatre Conference around these ideas, and unpacking what they mean to us is a great opportunity for discussion. Motivation. And change.

About Julie Hennrikus

Julie Hennrikus is the General Manager of Emerson Stage at Emerson College, which is the producing arm of the Department of Performing Arts.  She is also the Communications Director for Performing Arts and Emerson Stage.


  1. #1 by Jeff Poulos on October 22, 2010 - 9:43 am

    This is thrilling! I am excited about the upcoming conference and the really inspiring connection between the slow food movement and locally grown theatre. The topic uses a new, refreshing lens to look at Greater Boston theatre from 30,000 feet above and yet drill down deeply. Good for you all, and I can’t wait.

    • #2 by jahennrikus on October 22, 2010 - 7:16 pm

      Thanks Jeff! So thrilled you are planning on coming to the conference!

  2. #3 by Anita Lauricella on October 28, 2010 - 4:19 pm

    I love the question “Does the satisfaction of theater artist mean as much or more than audience satisfaction?” For me this brings up the genuine challenge of creating good theatre. I don’t think you can have good theatre without audience. Theatre is a communal experience, sometimes uncomfortable but without audience its not theatre. So on some level and in some way both artist and audience need to be satisfied. And that is why it is so hard to do, but when we experience it at the end of a wonderful performance, you know it, you feel it and you want to share it.

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