The rebel CEO: 'We’re going to shake things up'

CEO Scott Shiller applauds the DCPA students who performed at the recent 'Saturday Night Alive' gala. Amanda Tipton Photography.

CEO Scott Shiller applauds the DCPA students who performed at the recent ‘Saturday Night Alive’ gala. Amanda Tipton Photography.  

Since the start of this theatre season, I’ve been asking questions in this column: Are we welcoming enough to tech-savvy audience members? Where do you get your arts and entertainment news? What’s important to you in a cultural facility? As a recent transplant to Denver, I have my share of observations. And I definitely have opinions on the questions I’ve posed. But I want to know what you think. You are my partners and, together, we’re going to shake things up.

Scott Shiller quoteNow, you may not think of yourself as a rebel. Few rebels do. The reality, though, is that simply by expecting a modern theatregoing experience, you’re shaking things up every time you attend a live event. Live theatre is an art form that has been around for over 2,000 years.

Over that time, it has continuously evolved and reconsidered its potential. There has never been a time like this, though. Personal (and professional) technology is upending everything about the theatrical experience, from your first search for tickets on your smart phone to the last selfie you post before heading home. There’s something new seemingly every day, and the DCPA wants to lead the way.

That said, it’s not all new. We still have stages, actors, sets, props and wardrobe. We still have playwrights and directors and stage managers and crew. Mix well and you have theatre. But then again, now we have “immersive” theatre like our upcoming summer production called Sweet & Lucky that forgoes seats and stages for wandering through theatrical spaces. We have jukebox musicals, dance mash-ups, cirque and other forms traditionalists might not even recognize. Here at the DCPA, we’re even updating some of our theatres (currently The Space Theatre in the Bonfils Complex) to accommodate the new, high-tech, demands of modern theatre making. But here’s the big question — should live theatre stay the same or become something new?

As we move forward, what do you think the future of live theatre should be? What kind of programming should we embrace? Should we stay rooted in the past with traditional stagings and scripts? Should we tear up the rulebook and see what happens?

If we do either, will you attend more or less? Because whatever we do, you complete it. You are the reason we’re here and we want to hear from you. The revolution will not be televised — but it may be staged.

Let us know your thoughts by commenting at the bottom of this story.

About our Guest Columnist:
Scott Shiller, a nationally recognized Producer, Presenter and Entertainment Executive, was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in February, 2015. As President & CEO, Shiller has overall responsibility for the DCPA’s programmatic, operating, revenue, marketing, development and administrative functions. He comes to the DCPA from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, where he served as Executive Vice President from 2007 to 2015. With direct oversight of programming and marketing initiatives, Shiller’s first season at the Center resulted in a $3.3 million turnaround, more than 100 sold-out performances, and a 76 percent increase in attendance. Shiller began his career working with Tony Award-winning producer Jon B. Platt on productions including Wicked (Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Joel Grey), Man of La Mancha (Brian Stokes Mitchell), Sly Fox (Richard Dreyfuss), The Graduate (Kathleen Turner, Alicia Silverstone, Jason Biggs), Blue Man Group: Tubes, Cabaret (Teri Hatcher, Norbert Leo Butz), Master Class (Faye Dunaway), Wait Until Dark (Quentin Tarantino, Marisa Tomei), Taller than a Dwarf (Matthew Broderick, Parker Posey), Macbeth (Kelsey Grammer), The Diary of Anne Frank (Natalie Portman), and The Vagina Monologues (Eve Ensler).

Previous conversations with Scott Shiller:
Previously, DCPA CEO Scott Shiller posed these questions for NewsCenter readers:

*Where the wild thoughts are: Dream a little bigger about the future of the Denver Performing Arts Complex. To read this essay – and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

*Making Cents of Arts Funding:  “Should the federal government allocate more funding to the National Endowment for the Arts?” To read this essay – and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

*Declining arts coverage: How to respond to declining arts coverage? To read this essay – and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

*Social media in the theatre: How will we, as theatre professionals and audiences, find common ground for mobile devices in theatres? To read this essay – and reader responses, please visit our NewsCenter here

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