Monday, July 14, 2008

2 Questions

In a tangible measurable way divorced of rhetoric... what can theatre do that other mediums cant?

Is there a way to get more people into the theater? Any sort of people...any sort of theater?

10 comments:

isaac butler said...

those are both excellent questions. I'm actually in the research process to see if I want to write a book about the first one. I think both need very in depth answers. If I can figure out a way to articulate my thinking about both, I'll do a blog post and drop ya a line!

I will say i'm not sure what "divorced of rhetoric" or "tangible measurable way" is supposed to mean. Some answers to those questions are by nature going to be ethereal.

Devilvet said...

"divorced of rhetoric" is basically my way of saying that over the past few years...there are some boiler plate responses to these questions especially the first one that IMO break down to the spiritually uplifting feeling of sharing a space while sharing a story. The weight one puts behind this sort of answer is usually extremely literary and verbose...which communicates the depth of passion that the responder feels, but ultimately doesnt do much more to convince anyone "un-intiated".

It seems alot of folks are really trying to convince each other of things in relation to HoTFA and NYLACHI and Decentralization and tribes....and the cycle of rhetoric is about to come full circle.

I dont want to hear about how "holy" or "special" or "wonderful" theatre feels in relation to other medium... I want some more concrete...some verifible. Perhaps even clinical...
I expect most will think this is without benefit, but I think it could open up a new view on value that would enable the various members of our theatrosphere in their various goals.

Perhaps I should have just said...

More Verbs...less adverbs and adjectives.

isaac butler said...

hah! love it. Have you read "LIVENESS" by Philip Auslander? It's interesting because he is trying to do the same thing, but simply w/r/t something being "live" to talk about it as concretely as possible. It's an interesting book, although written in that kind of academic gobbledibook language that drives me nuts. (Do you need to use the word "ontology" twice in a sentence? REALLY??!!)

It's very difficult to do. Part of this difficulty, tho, is not about the woolly-headedness of theater advocates, but rather that the medium itself is experiential and effemeral and that makes talking about its effects in non-experiential and effemeral terms harder.

Devilvet said...

Granted...but it is a hard task that must be undertaken if things are going to change.

I think that if we talk more about narrative systems of delivery...and who and when one goes to the theatre for the distribtion of narrative...we have more to gain than the current predominate bear pit fight over whether or not we are deserve/earn the toil we are currently a part of.

Scott Walters said...

But dv, what other difference than liveness can there possibly be between theatre and film/TV/video? Film/TV/video all use narrative, all use actors pretending to be other people, all use environments in which to set the narratives, all use words and emotions. But the single thing that makes theatre different: the artists share the same room and the same time as the spectators. This has nothing to do with spirituality, it has to do with whether you choose to exploit that difference, or instead try to outdo film/TV/video on its home court while keeping your best player on the bench. If Philip Auslander is right, and liveness is illusory as way to differentiate theatre (and I must confess his ideas required the tortured logic of deconstruction to really be persuasive), then I don't know how we can argue that theatre is anything except a low-budget, high priced version of film/TV/video with an inconvenient delivery system that depends on synchronism between artist and audience. In other words, second-rate, over-priced, inconvenient film/TV/video.

Tony Adams said...

"I don't know how we can argue that theatre is anything except a low-budget, high priced version of film/TV/video with an inconvenient delivery system that depends on synchronism between artist and audience. In other words, second-rate, over-priced, inconvenient film/TV/video."

That's the way many people think of theatre, until they see something that changes their mind.

Devilvet said...

tony,

thank you. That is exactly what I would have said if I weren't away at lunch.

Scott,

at the risk of sounding a little silly...can you tell more about this "liveness" of which you speak and why a non-initiated should care?

And if you really dont see the comparisons between liveness metaphors and religion... well then I dont know how to tell you the sky is blue...

Devilvet said...

So Until more audience partake of the "live event in a shared space"...I believe that any change in the economic situation of actors and theater artists will be without fruit, unless you are merely attempting to commiserate with other folks in similar straits. If that is you're kind of fruit...then I suppose success is happening. But, not decentralization or the easiment of the artistic production process.

Scott Walters said...

Tony -- Yes, that is the way that many people see the theatre, and to some extent that is our fault because since the 1870s the dominant form of theatre has not exploited the liveness, but instead attempted to hide it behind the fourth wall. Many people -- and to some extent, I am one -- feel that if they wanted to be ignored by actors, they could do that at home watching TV -- and they do. So the uninitiated have made a rational evaluation: theatre IS just second-rate, high-priced TV.

But I would argue that there is evidence for the power of liveness already. What is the healthiest part of live theatre as far as popularity is concerned: the musical, probably the most presentational, audience-acknowledging genre in theatre. Do we really think that people go simply because they like to hear people sing and act? Or is there something else happening that lets them be more active through the actors singing toward them, through their applauding after songs, etc. It is fairly low-level liveness, but it is more than a fourth wall play has, and the popularity is a measurable assessment of some sort of success.

I would also argue that theatre such as live mystery plays in B & B's and hotels and even on trains also attracts an enthusiastic audience, despite low spectacle. Again, the audience gets to play, too.

I think liveness can be sold to the uninitiated, but that most often comes through expanding circles of people. An initiated theatregoer sees a participatory show and thinks, "I'll bet my non-theatregoing friend would like this," and he invites him, saying "this is different -- it is fun!" Once in the door, if the new theatregoer enjoys himself, he tell shis friends, most of whom are uninitiated -- "Hey, this was different! Not like theatre usually is -- boring! You oughta try it!" And so on.

You don't sell the uninitiated directly, but by creating Evangelists, as "Forces for Good" calls them -- people who promote your organization because they believe in you.

Scott Walters said...

And in response to you second post, dv, I offer my latest post "Marching Orders."