Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Check Out "Theatre Is Territory" Guest Post

Over at "Theatre Is Territory," Ian complimented me by asking for another guest post. Since there was much discussion about...well, about discussion, and whether we should use our real names, and whether we should be fearful for our careers when reacting to productions and ideas, I decided to talk about the recent exchange of ideas here and on Don Hall's Angry White Guy in Chicago blog. I called the post "The Importance of Being Burnished." I know -- almost clever. Almost.

Anyway, there are a lot of you who have been following the discussion here -- nearly 600 of you yesterday. That is the largest number of hits I have on this site ever. Ever. Now, perhaps it is the "playground fight" effect, where everybody gathers around when a couple kids start slugging each other. But I don't think so. I think the visits soar when people are expressing their passions together.

Don, dv, and I tend to express our ideas noisily, and some people get freaked out about that. They think we're really bashing each other. We're not -- it is like a couple of dogs growling and nipping and fighting together. The dogs are just practicing, and honing their skills. Same with the discussions. As dv noted yesterday, as a result of the battles, we all usually come up with some new idea or new way of expressing it that is better.

Sure, sometimes the battle goes on a little longer than it ought to, and then people get impatient. Sort of like the playground fights where the two battlers shove each other on the shoulder and yell "Come on! You want some of this?!" over and over again, and eventually the crowd gets bored and moves on.

But the value is in caring. There are many ways to share a passion -- it doesn't have to be all noisy and chest-thumping. You can express your ideas with a quiet passion as well, and as effectively. Laura Axelrod as Gasp! does that beautifully, for instance. But ultimately, you've got to put it out there, you've got to share. That's community, that's friendship, that's sharing an art form.

Here's my concern, though. Well, concern -- my wish, perhaps would be a better word. We are all so good at commenting with "No," or "Yes," or "Yes, but" (which seems to be a special favorite), but I rarely see "Yes and." As I post my ideas about theatre tribes, I get many comments that seek to knock down some idea, or seek to applaud it. But what I wish for is someone who wants to extend it. Someone who wants to build on an idea, strengthen it by adding a support beam, illsutrate it by providing a personal story or some other example. Those are the comments that I appreciate most.

But I don't mind the others. Would I prefer that everybody bowed low to my ideas and hailed me as the New Messiah of Theatre? Well, I wouldn't mind trying that out for a day or two... But actually, without the friction, without the burnishing, my ideas would be weaker and more flaccid.

I've mentioned I am writing a book about the theatre tribe idea, and I know that book is stronger because of the demand that I regularly defend my ideas.

So, Don, dv, and any of the rest of you: "Come on! You wanna a piece a this? Bring it!"

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