ALT.NET is not my first front-row seat to an alternative movement formed around craft and passion. I participated in the RAT Conferences (Regional Alternative Theater) where artists built community and common cause for their vision of a Big Cheap Theater.
It’s not that there’s not enough good work out there; there’s not enough out there out there. Experimental theaters, geographically and financially isolated from one another, struggle separately when they could be struggling together — not in less pain, perhaps, but in a common and revivifying pain.
Strong progressive companies start from scratch again and again, only to disband in frustration on the same scratch plain. We need to share the work — the labor and the ways of laboring. We need to distribute the consciences. We want an engine, outside the marketplace, built low enough to the ground and out of such measly materials that repairs are worked in a wink… – Erik Ehn
The RAT Conferences occurred over a period of almost ten years expanding internationally. Over that period, relationships were built, work shared, and generations bridged creating lasting benefit to companies and artists.
At our theater, RAT inspired a program to invite writers from across the country to work with our company over two weeks to generate new work. Over five years, we fostered new collaborations between writers, directors and performers and produced twenty experimental works many of which went on to further lives.
All this to say, thank you to the organizers and instigators behind ALT.NET. Building community among innovative, passionate people towards action is a great contribution. Technologies bubble, processes adapt, but common cause feeds the human potential to create.