Friday, August 10, 2007

I didn't want to say it...but I'm going to say it

There have been a lot of individuals flipping birds at each other over the Internet and let me say I will not put such comments up (if I even get them, my readership is probably significantly less than most I do love those of you who read even if you don't agree).

I will put up comments that further the discussion.

I have been trying my best not to blog about all the stuff that has been brought up by Scott Walter's blog as of late.

I respect Scott as a fellow blogger, had some email correspondence with him on some of issues he has been attempting to address as of late.

And now that there is a lot less invective going back and forth, i find the notions being discussed over on Don's blog in response to Scott even more disturbing to me than a couple of grown men slinging rocks at each other via the internet

I hear people talking about what Theatre should do, what Theatre should be...Umbrella like statements about hope, intent, and community. I hear fears about the death of theatre (God it seems I've been hearing about the death of theatre since I first got the bug back in 1988).

I for one don't believe for a second that theatre is dying or in need of a major overhaul as some have suggested. My experience is that theatre, live performance is still as viable as it was when I first got wind of this thing called theatre back in the day.

How we distribute theatre that might need an reexamination, but when we start examining our content so that we are making shows which are more hopeful, or community building (i.e. sell more tickets because they make us feel hopeful)...despite our best intentions we have become cultural police officers.

Should theatre entertain and enlighten? Should theatre merely entertain? What are the responsibilities individual artists have to their communities? Should we consider activism towards those who do a certain kind of theatre that isn't to our taste? Or that uses stereotypes? Or that makes me fear for the future?

I put it to all of you that your first and foremost responsibility as an artist is to be truthful to your own intent whether that intent is purely narcissistic or wondrously philanthropic. I suggest that all this keening over the state of theatre has less to do with whether or not we are relevant or more to do with whether of not we are financially solvent. I say if you don't like the kind of theatre your community has, well then make the sort of shows you want to see. Don't tell me what to make. I'll make what I want to make thank you very much. I'll address the issues that are important to me. I'll use any means I deem fit (God bless the constitution) regardless of whether or not they hurt someone else's feelings.

You as the storyteller be true to yourself
You as the producer be true to your market
You as the director be honest with the playwright and the audience

Truth is what we should be aiming for...then let the audience decide if it is helpful, harmful, hopeful, healthy, strengthening, etc.

Stop apologizing for small houses and stop looking at your content as the reason. People are playing video games, watching dvds, raising kids, playing horseshoes, betting on ball games.

Truth above all else, yes even hope! And once you've spoken truth see who is listening. That is your audience. Embrace them, they are your community. Do not sacrifice your voice, your truth, your individuality so that you can build hope in a community that might not even be your own. Communities should built on truth, yes even before hope.

Consider the possibility that it isn't theatre that is dying, it is your community your country, your american dream....and that giving voice to dissent is as equally important than hope.

Aside from impinging upon another individual's civil rights...I say take your political correctness and heal thyself. Until someone can show me that southern white males are suffering lose of civil liberty due to "You might be a redneck jokes"
I say it is free country and let em write and say and perform what they want.

I want a theatre of ideas,dialogue,debate, and dissent rather than a theatre of hopeful intentions.


GreyZelda Land said...

Thank you for writing this entry, Bob ... this sort of positive, intense, committed and hopeful energy is what's needed and it helps to inspire, rather than negate, artist's efforts to share with their audiences, peers and community.

Rock and roll,

Devilvet said...

"hopeful"...but I wasn't going for hopeful!!!!uuuughhh


GreyZelda Land said...

Heh heh ... I thought I'd throw that word in there to see what you thought ... but, I will say ... the phoenix will often come from the ashes ... I'm a morbid type, yes, but ... I can often read hope into the direst, most depressing, darkest types of situations and stories.

I have no idea why Scarlet O'Hara just popped into my brain, but ... even though life really liked taking her through the ringer and everything you can think of went bad for her by the end of our time with her ... at the end of the day there's always tomorrow and there's always that little root vegetable - was it a potato? Carrot? - to make a person see the light just for a second.

Fiddle dee dee,

Devilvet said...

I think hope is an excellent RESULT of theatre, but a not so excellent an INTENT, THEME, or BENCHMARK when it comes to playmaking if it is compromising truth.

Truth first.
Hope second.

To my mind they are not synonymus (sp? god I'm bad speller)...and I've been hearing more about hope (a little too much)

Have you ever heard the one about "When here a thespian talking about community, put you rhand over your wallet cause somebodies about to hit you up for money?" was that tangential? What the hell it's my blog

Devilvet said...

wow! serious lobster claws on that last comment sorry

GreyZelda Land said...

Totally - truth should not be compromised. And I think the order of truth first, hope second is a good one.

I guess I get on that Bohemian/Moulin Rouge train of believing in freedom, truth, beauty and love. All of those words, regardless of intent, inspire a little bit of hope in my soul. Truth can be amazingly cleansing and break down all the walls ... it can be painful to take, but, in the end, it's the best medicine and you can begin moving forward and up from the levelling.

Freedom to create, to say what I please, to perform what I please, to produce what I please, to do what I please ... and to know that others are given that same freedom ... um ... pleases me.

Beauty - I find beauty in many places including decay and death ... death can be looked at as a final chapter, a final door closing, but, through death, comes inevitable change for someone or something, giving me the feeling of ... what's next?

And, of course ... love can be hopeful but it can be many other things, as well ... but taking away love of something goes against everything else we mentioned ... goes against freedom, truth and beauty.

I'm going on and on ... but, do know, I'm with you on not being afraid of and having as much room for the dark, the despairing, the disastrous, the devious and the daring as you do for the light, the laughter, the lauded, the living and the larks.

Which is why we live in the little grey world, I s'pose ... we like that place that bridges the gap knowing that both sides have their merits.

I like those lobster claws of yours, that's fer sure. In fact, thinking of you as a lobster is very fun ... lobsters are wise, old, walkers of the cold, deep, murky waters and can pinch off your fingers if they have a good mind to.

Tony said...

Nice. (I did me best to avoid robster craws)

I think there is a difference (and I probably don't say it enough) between what theatre can do, and with people should do.

I agree, I don't think hopeful intentions should be a goal. I don't think there's any measurable way to talk about something that is so wide and personal. One person can find hope where another finds despair. It's like asking an actor to be play "being hopeful" or "being smart"

I truly believe theatre can help to bridge gaps, and build communities. I believe in the power of communal storytelling. But that's me. I think in a lot of ways sharing a story is much the same as sharing a meal.

Though, I would disagree with, "Stop apologizing for small houses and stop looking at your content as the reason." I think there is a link between the stories that we tell (and how well we tell them) and audiences. But that's probably not a huge surprise.

"I want a theatre of ideas, dialogue, debate, and dissent rather than a theatre of hopeful intentions." I concur. Though the debater in me would say ideas, dialogue, debate and dissent are also marks of a strong community. . .two sides of a similar coin.

Devilvet said...

Cool Tony That's cool

Let me rephrase my mantra without rejecting the first incarnation.

Truth first
community second

"Stop apologizing for small houses and stop looking at your content as the reason."

I stand by this, but understand that many wont agree...let me attempt to clarify my position

If you are speaking truth then Stop apologizing for small houses. If you are speaking truth then investigate the form of your expression before you consider apologizing for and then altering your content of your expression...make sure you want to be a part of the community before you bend your artistic endeavors to its will. Other wise you seriously risk throwing truth to one side...and so far as this blog is concerned

truth first and foremost even if one must sacrifice incorporation into a potential commmunity.

"I did me best to avoid robster craws"

are you trying to offend my asian readers? (uhhhh do I have any asian reader?)

(another wink and saucy gesture)


Paul Rekk said...

Fantastic post! We just got through my whole spiel, so's you know I'm with you on being true to my truth. (You see what I did there? Clever, eh?)

I also think this is important for theatre artists in particular to remember when we play the role of the audience. I think we feel an obligation to link arms and defend Theatre from the unruly mob that is Society. Sure, be supportive of your fellow artists, but there's no requirement to be universally embracing. Just as we as artists have a responsibility to our truth, we as an audience should be embracing (and thereby strengthening) the artists whose truth touches our soul. And to be willing to raise that voice of dissent to counter truths that oppose ours (and, more importantly, be ready to hear that voice of dissent from others, even if we don't necessarily listen).

Which isn't to say that the infighting and backbiting that happens from time to time is terribly helpful, but on the flip side, the dysfunctional family is where all of the interesting things happen.

Tony said...

I getcha.

Often when I talk about examining content, I mean more why are you telling this story (doing this show)? And being truthful about that.

One ex. Are people doing Labute because they find truth to convey in it or because "it's so shocking and in-your-face and edgy, and F! that pc crap man. . . I AM AN ACTOR." That for me is as bad as doing a show just because you think it'll get butts in the seats.

I think we may be talking about the same thing in two different ways.

Devilvet said...

Lets see

If you think to yourself "I love this Labute play, sure it's what most people think of as reprehensible but god save me I love it, it speaks to me..."...truth

If you think to yourself "People really seem to be taking to the Neil Labute..maybe we should be do"...not so truthful

The content of Labute may be dispictable to many, but if it is what LaBute sees as truth then he and producer, directors, and actors who agree with him should do it.

Any other reason is suspicious in my book.