15 February 2007

Dispirited

Something I've been thinking about lately, about theatre, off-Broadway and larger: Why are we trying to sell people something they don't want? Selling men tampons, as one astute marketing director put it. I know this is terribly pessimistic, but when you've got a product that you believe is good, and no one wants it - where does that leave you? We're not even up to selling our product as the best - we're still back at convincing people they want any of this kind of product at all. If no one wants to see plays... why do I think that's something I can change, and why do I think I should? Would I be better off in some tiny downtown theatre making whatever art I want for the 30 people who'll come see it? (And what art am I myself actually making? Though that's a whole nother pile of dread.) Do folks in other industries come up against this problem? If I worked in publishing would this be better? Should I go back to school for some sciency thing? Surgeons don't worry about this. Do astronomers? I'm sure this spell of pessimism will pass, but these are probably questions I ought to deal with at some point. Growing up to be the next Joe Papp isn't as easy as I'd like it to be.

1 comment:

Malachy Walsh said...

Great questions.

Strangely, I'm in the category of people who don't want to see plays. I never have.

I want to be engaged by them.

Sometimes I'm unengaged by off-B'way and off-off B'way work even before the show starts - especially if I feel that I'm not quite cool enough for the show. Or if I get the impression as the show progresses that the group believes they are doing something that makes them cool.

I hate cool almost as much as I hate its cousin irony.

Which is why, of all the downtown theatre groups, I have always loved Clubbed Thumb. I always felt like an important guest at their shows, whether or not I liked any particular. They did this with cues that radiated humble intelligence. And more importantly a spirit of, we liked this and so we put it on and hope you like it too.

Your post also makes me think of that Sam Shepard quote about the guy who goes to the theatre and finds everything kinda strange and weird and then the show starts and the characters on stage do stuff that aren't anything like anything in his life but still somehow connect with it.

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