Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All work and no play(s)...

---note to self---

I have perception/expectation integration issues.

I know right?

I expect that:

  1. If you say that your product/event of presentation is going to change my life, that it will. Or it won't be for lack of trying.
  2. If you are pimping someone else's product for #1, that #1 will hold true.
  3. If you tell me something is "Best of" "Classic" "Revolutionary" or try to teach it in a course, #1 is in full effect.
  4. You will fail. That standard is impossible.

And I know it's impossible. I'm not sure how I grew up to be a good little Gen X'er thinking that everyone was telling the literal truth about such things. I have no idea how such a thing came into my head, but it's there.

It is a big problem for me in the arts because I am perpetually disappointed. I live in a world in which the curve doesn't go to %100. There is no such thing as %100 in live performance - there are friction losses in the creative pipes and there are heat losses in transmission, I mean it's simply not possible.

But the more important problem is that if I have been told that this thing is "Best of" "Classic" "Revolutionary" then it's going to be work. Because everything else that has been deemed "Best of" "Classic" "Revolutionary" is work. The transitive power of criticism. It becomes a bar to seeing things. Because if I'm tired I don't want to work at my entertainment.

But it's all an illusion. There is an upper limit see? No matter how important (or heavy or dense or other physics) a film is, or a book, or a play, it is bounded by the fact that it is a film is or a book or a play. It cannot be more than that.

I always get kind of surprised when something Important is Just a Movie. The precipitating event for this is my first time (and subsequent 8 times) viewing of Annie Hall. Which is on every list that can be listed. Including mysteries (why in the world would Alvy want to be with her?)

It was just a movie.

See? I got set up. Just like we have set up audiences for a century.

Used to be all entertainment was live.
Used to be that people would see things on the stage all the time and had a routine.
Used to be people chose what sort of live entertainment the were going to see, not whether it was going to be live or Memorex.

They um, they don't do that anymore.

People use words like quaint about the theatre. People who know what words like quaint mean. And they mean it. Even I am surprised sometimes when people say they go to theatre.

But too often we're selling theatre as though they have any idea what we're talking about. If someone is interested in a movie, they see a trailer (or vice versa) if they're curious about a book they read a page or two, or a chapter.

Going to the theatre is as binary as pregnancy. You is or you ain't.

And by and large we're pitching them concepts.
I am so guilty of this I'm already in line at the International Crimes Against Theatre Tribunal in the Hague.

[Generally] People who are not doing this aren't dropping $10-25 to have someone they [Generally] don't know, [Generally] with no reputation, in a [Generally] disreputable part of town play with some concept. They want to be entertained. For whatever value of "entertained" works for them.

So we need to be telling people why they will be entertained, not how brilliant we are to have come up with it. They don't want to have to work any more than my poor deluded brain does.

So let's not make them think that they will.


More trailers. I know it's more work, and work that is slightly to the left of our field, but it's necessary.
We need to have a sampler platter for our shows.
We need to be able to show people what it's like.

Make our theatres safe places for audiences again.

---End note to self---

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