No sooner had I posted my diatribe than I checked George Hunka's blog "Superfluities" and, to my amazement, found a two-year-old essay about why George had begun writing for theatre again. It is a wonderful post, and I draw particular attention to the following sentence:
"Like in good sex, a good live performance provides release and pleasure and the partners develop a sensual partnered grace; like in bad sex, a bad live performance results in discomfort, boredom and a good deal of squirming."
Now that's a good metaphor. How many playwrights, actors, directors, and designers regard the audience as a partner, someone to collaborate with, someone that we are trying to satisfy in some way? All too many "serious" playwrights and theatre artists have an artistic rape mentality: we're going to get our rocks off humiliating and debasing you, and it's OK because you deserve it for being a dumb, shallow, materialistic asshole wearing a short spiritual skirt. Oh, and you ought to pay for this opportunity, and also the NEA ought to give me a grant so I can do it on a full-time basis.
I highly recommend George's essay as a reminder of the magic, the beauty, and the inspiration of theatre. And then I invite you to examine your latest work of art to see whether your attitude toward the audience has anything to do with what George describes.