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What We Talk About When We Talk About: #NeverBeDark

02.03.11 | 1 Comment


CATEGORIES about 2am, advocacy, ideas, non-profit theatre, social media, storefront theatre, theatrical ecosystem

Some days the internet seems like nothing more than a jargon factory. It pops out new words, phrases and memes that we are somehow supposed to instinctively know moments after coinage and knowledge of the day’s watchword becomes a hard demarcation of inclusion or exclusion.

It is imperative for those pockets of the internet that intend on being community to erase those lines whenever possible, to create shared vocabulary and eliminate shibboleths. During periods of heavy influx into the #2amt community we see a lot of repeated information as folks try to stake out territory for themselves, and we see a lot of confusion as concepts that the community has bashed around for a long time come across as jargon to new eyes. As I believe that unpacked jargon becomes vocabulary let’s unpack one of my frequent battle cries: Never be dark.

Never be dark (hashtagged #Neverbedark) is a two pronged concept depending on the space you’re running. Both are predicated on the idea that the hardest commodity to come by is space and that once you have it it shouldn’t be wasted.

The first prong is something that some companies are already doing, I call it “deputize and fill”. If you are running a space, curate your second stage (or heck your mainstage) and lend your credibility and space to a group whose art you want to support. Not as a rental. Be their producer and use your pulpit to to give others a voice. It deepens the field of artists that your patrons trust and creates relationship, both company to company and person to person, that our field could desperately use. There are also good business reasons to do it, but honestly you don’t need them.

The second prong is something that we started batting around in response to Eric Ziegenhagen’s drum beat for a theatrical counterpart to evenings out at a fine dining restaurant and to 2amtheatre.com’s own 360 Storytelling: Using the space in your theatre to host readings, and storytellings and other sorts of community nights, formal and in. Not as Mr. Walters cautions against “sit down and shut up” events but events that take advantage of our current participatory culture. If instead of focusing on the monolithic cultural center we create neighborhood playhouses that include spaces for both the specialized and the community artist. It would foster ownership in the communities’ arts and in the community hub as Shishur Kurup referred to it at the most recent #Newplay convening.

“But Travis, none of this is new,
none of this is anything like a fresh idea,
why should we care?”

Because it isn’t a new idea, because it isn’t fresh and it isn’t happening. Artists keep trying to build temples to their craft and people keep staying away.

#Neverbedark isn’t a call to think about community inclusion it’s a call to act on community inclusion.  You can start with whichever community you choose, the field or the neighborhood, but closed doors and dark nights are blown opportunities for both.

What are you doing to include your community?
What would you like to be doing to include your community?
How can the #2amt community help you do that?

Travis Bedard

A long time theatre blogger and proud advocate for new work in general and Austin theatre specifically in the social media realm.Travis is the Artistic Director of Cambiare Productions in Austin and a contributing writer to 2amTheatre.com. Travis holds a degree in Theatre (Secondary Education) from the University of New Hampshire.

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