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Follow Monday: 08 March 2010

03.08.10 | Comment?


CATEGORIES conversation starter, follow friday, ideas, rabble rousing, theatrical ecosystem

Better Monday than never. These are the stories, posts, trends and folks we’ve been following this last week and change. Friday slipped into Saturday, slipped into a 360 storytelling event (more on that later), then slipped into live-blogging the Oscars for Media Elites. Life goes on…

So today, a supersized selection of stories. Enjoy.

Travis Bedard & Kate Foy on “pronoun trouble.”
No, this isn’t actually about pronouns. But, like Bugs and Daffy arguing about who Elmer gets to shoot and when, the question of what is and is not “indie theatre” gets louder and louder until someone’s beak gets shot off. Travis has offered up a post from his Cambiare Productions blog. Kate has followed suit with an earlier Groundling blog post of her own. The current conversations on Twitter were sparked by the “fighting words” in this blog post. Please note that comments on that post are closed… (And this afternoon, the conversation’s fired up yet again.)

Rebecca Coleman on why she loves theatre.
Do you know about World Theatre Day? Have you visited the link yet? You do now. It’s March 27th, and you can join in the fun. Let the WTD folks know what you’re doing–if anything–whether producing a show, seeing a show, having a theatre party, what have you. And you can do like Rebecca and record a video telling the world what it is that you love about theatre. (If you didn’t already love it before her video, I’m sure you will by the end. That kind of joy is infectious…)

Howard Shapiro on sharing the load.
A story about theatre companies splitting the difference and co-producing shows to cut costs. This article highlights a couple of innovative productions, a couple of successful collaborations. Is this a wave for the near future? And could companies at different levels collaborate? Could this provide another model for major regional theatres hosting and supporting smaller local professional companies to help fill their own seasons and save some money? (There I go with a loaded word like “professional” again…)

Jim Jewell on some interesting development.
Speaking of loaded terms, here’s a post that uses “fringe” where I would probably have used “small, local professional theatre.” Either way, it’s another piece of the puzzle outlined by Jim Jewell of the Seattle Childrens’ Theatre (by way of Paul Mullin’s blog). Read this concept and–if you’ve been reading our site–see if it sounds a little familiar.

Jodi Schoenbrun Carter on baggage handling.
Labels are one kind of baggage audiences can bring to the theatre, whether “fringe” or “professional” or what have you. But how do you deal with the baggage audiences bring to the theatre from their own lives? Do you address it or ignore it? And how can you make it comfortable enough for them to let go and enjoy your show?

Dave Charest on “One” as a not-so-lonely number.
What’s the one thing people think of when they think of your theatre company? No, I said one thing. Yes, I know you don’t want to be pigeon-holed. It’s not about that. And it’s not about a generic label like “fringe” or “storefront.” It’s about finding your focus, or rather, focusing that message on your audiences, both real and potential. Once you get them in the building, in your space, they’ll discover all the things you are. Getting them through the door, that’s half the battle.

Andrew Taylor on what’s inside.
Look at the simplicity of the phrase “Art. It’s what’s inside.” What kind of art? How much art? Where? Doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that it’s art. Maybe that’s all the label we need. Maybe, without a more specific label, your audience might take a chance and see what is inside. And just maybe, they’ll come back because they’ve discovered something they might have ignored before because of some narrow label.

And as long as we’re here, you might check out his post on unbundling the arts organizations. Just where is the inside and how is it organized? How is it run? Are you duplicating the efforts of everyone else who shares your venue? Could we all work together and streamline the process?

Rick Rolfsmeyer on the side of the road.
Already today on Twitter, we’ve floated various phrases like “Unlabelled Awesome” and “Artisanal Small Batch Theatre.” Here’s an idea uniquely suited to such art, the roadside culture stand. It could be a means to an end–a clever way to advertise your theatre and draw new people via farmers’ markets and other gatherings–or an end in itself.

Chris Jones on a separate audience.
Steppenwolf is running an adaptation of the novel A Separate Peace through next week. But the intended audience has no connection to the work on stage. They’re not feeling the electricity of being in the room with the story live on stage. In reviewing the reactions of those around him at the school matinee, Chris Jones tells us everything we need to know about the show (and maybe more). If we were to give them a label, it would be unplugged, and not in the good way.

Alison Broverman on the uses of enchantment.
Which is to say Into the Woods, which was inspired by the Bettelheim book of the same name. But the enchantment Alison talks about isn’t just fairy tales and storytelling. She’s talking about the enchantment of theatre. Inspired by The Play That Changed My Life, she tells us about her own electric engagement with Sondheim and Lapine. And now? She’s a playwright. Funny how that works.

DShed on extending the experience.
Seeing the PBS recording of Into the Woods changed Alison and many others. Imagine if they had this technology. The Extended Theatre Experience was an experiment using video and audio capture devices in every aspect of a play’s production to create a new, more completely realized experience than a mere play on tape. And before I get the label people upset with me, let me stress, this does not replace live theatre. Nothing is as electric as being in the room with the play. Why do you think filmmakers and game designers keep pushing the 3-D, fully-immersive experience at us? They’re trying to match the experience we provide at a fraction of the cost for a couple hundred people at a time. Maybe plays captured in this style, with this technology, might attract, inspire and enchant the next generation of theatre artists.

Simon Ogden on something happening here.
Finally, this lovely post over at The Next Stage by Simon Ogden, who’s just recovered from the winter athletes of the world invading his city. If you’re not already reading and following his blog, you really need to fix that. Here, he takes the pulse of what’s happening in the world of theatre. (He also mixes a mean drink. Maybe surly. Eh, forget labels, we’ll just call the drinks good and call it a night…)

David J. Loehr

David J. Loehr

Writer / Producer, The Incomparable Radio Theater :: Artist-in-Residence / Producer, Riverrun Theatre Company, Madison, Indiana :: Artistic Director / Editor, 2amt :: Panelist, The Incomparable podcast :: Husband, father, cat owner, cat bed.
David J. Loehr

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