Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fandom? What if the show never closes?

Yesterday I was attempting to start a conversation about fans. My hope was to discuss the ways in which fandom or fanaticism is created...also if/how that can be utilized by live narrative events. This was brought on while thinking about the recent San Diego Comic Con and the enthusiasm of its participants.

Scott wrote - "being a fan means having access to lots of information, insider or otherwise. You can master all kinds of arcana, which makes you see the things in the comic book, for instance, that others can't. I'm a football fan, and I follow all the training camp reports with great passion, so that I know the story beneath the story when the first game is played. Is there a way to do the same with theatre?"

I think theatre could do this, but it requires some changes in the way we think about the event and the pre and post production events. In a conversation I had this weekend with Nathan Robbel, a founder of Right Brain Theatre in Chicago, he was complimentary about the Clay Continent webcomic in that I have kept up some sort of diligence continuing to get some material online even if the show was closed. I told him that as soon as the show was closed I was thinking about its next incarnation (the comic plus a new stage version possibly next year).

This made me think what if the show never closes. When it comes to Clay Continent, what if even if the "run" ends on a certain date...the author and audience know that the show goes on (cough!). How does the show go on? One way is to move the narrative between mediums...the stage show becomes a comic book which becomes a short independent film which becomes a new version of the original show which becomes a series of short stories which becomes a puppet show...etc.etc. you get the picture.

Now some might say, but that is alot of work or that is not what we do...But, if an artist like Sarah Ruhl gets hot and a certain script hits every other LORT and then gets a small independent film treatment which goes to DVD then a sprinkling of live productions at community theaters...

See the connection? The change would to have to be how the initial artist conceived of their relationship with the narrative once created.

How does this tie into fandom? Well, if Fandom can be encouraged by access to lots of information inside or otherwise...well that is the sort of thing that could start to exist if we expanded the scope of medium we use.

The show/story never closes. If the show never closes... even when the run is done, does that provide more opportunity over a longer period of time and greater developed resource of material related to the story...more opportunity for fandom?

Too much work...too much time? Maybe...but Tolkien's fandom didn't happen over night...he had to build that world story by story one hobbit at a time...

Yeah, but theatre doesn't work that way?

Why cant it though?


Scott Walters said...

Cool idea! Let me build on it: what if the story was advanced live in short snippets in places around town, and the only people who knew about it were people who were following the comic book. So that somewhere in the comic book was information (that had to be decoded?) about some short (like, 5 minutes or less) thing that would advance the plot was going to happen in an alley off Halsted at 11:00 pm on such and such a night. If people showed up, you did it; if they didn't, you did it anyway and took pics which then appeared in the next comic book edition... and so on.

Laura said...

How about an interactive online game, a la The Lost Experience? Sure, it would take some work, but it could be fun as hell. Get some computer-geeky volunteers who want to help out with the theatre but don't know what skills they can offer and set them to work.

Tony Adams said...

This is one thing Disney does a marvelous job of.

Devilvet said...

@Tony - fewer theatre artists...more imagineers?


Really I agree with you. Being a Floridian by birth, I've had ample opportunities to see how the corporate mouse does it... And, i think there are methods and approaches to story telling, live narrative events, etc...that we in the small store front theate community...especially those of us who are working with new original material...could utilize.

Devilvet said...

@Scott - I hadnt thought about that. About how technology can better enable guerilla theater? Especially in public spaces. Ohhh I've got some thinking to do about this...

@Laura - I would have no idea how to start this sort of thing but...why not. It seems like every huge narrative outthere has some sort of gaming counterpart. Even if you dont have access to computer game graphic artists why not use applications like Twitter or Blogs to embellish a narrative world you've created? Scan in maps of the surrounding area where your protagnoist does all their living?

RVCbard's work seems like it could be great for something like this.

Using twitter or blogs to announce daily data events downtown during lunch hour or right after work in a public space just outside a watering hole?

Why not?

Tony Adams said...

I know in France streetbooming is becoming more prevalent. (there was even a story in Le Monde about it this week.)

Kind of like a 60's happening mixed with a flashmob to make a moving human fresco. It's interesting how it is mixing online communications with real world communal actions.

I wonder if a logical next step would be to add in narrative?

I'll try to find a non-francais link to post if I can.

RLewis said...

Bob, this sounds terrific. I think that you're really on to something. But you're also smart enough to know what a ton of work it would be. Reminds me of the woman behind Mama Mia... not that i'm a fan of MM... but she has done that show and only that show for... what... 8 years now. Her force of nature has made some silly songs into a worldwide brand.

I think there are other great models that prove what can be built, if you're willing to stick with one story for long enough, hard enough. I tried something along these lines in the 90's. It was the love of my life, but I just could not sustain the work necessary to finish its unfinishable scope. If you should be interested in checking it out, it's still dormantly out there

You certainly could build a following whether fandom or not... maybe more like layers of fellowship with the project. What's not to like? Good luck with it.

ps. I'm a fan of Bill Irwin (cuz of my long clown/circus background); I'm a fan of Anne Hamburger (cuz she was such a producing wiz); I'm a fan of Ann Bogart (cuz of her approach to the work); and I'm sure there are more artist that blow my skirt up.

RVCBard said...

I haven't been on the ball about my play as much as I should have, but I think a new direction wouldn't be remiss.

After all, people need to know what orixa, bitabohs, and other things actually are.