Wednesday, September 10, 2008


That seems to be the overall tone of the theatropsherians of late, at least when it comes to theatre. "Whatever." But then, much of the theatrosphere isn't writing about anything as boring as theatre anymore, it's all about the presidential campaign. Why actually think up ideas when you can bash McCain and fret about whether Obama is being mean enough?

Even when someone like Teresa Rebeck raises the issue of the dearth of female playwrights, the best we can come up with is a stifled yawn, a shrug, and a relativist mumble? Tony Adams: "If audiences don't seem to care how does one expect a commercial/institutional producer to care? Not saying that's right, but that's how it is." Yawn. Whatever. Matt Freeman: " There may be an unconscious male bias in the decision making...but from where does that bias spring? Any thoughts on this? I'd love to hear them." Ho-hum. I can't actually be bothered to come up with any ideas of my own. I'll just throw up a subject heading -- "Sexism in Play Selection," maybe? -- and see if anyone has anything to say.

Is there anybody actually thinking out there anymore? George Hunka and I have never seen eye to eye as far as theatre values, but damn it, he makes an effort to actually put some ideas out there. I click around my RSS feeds, and the only blogs I see addressing anything approaching ideas are the management and marketing blogs. Otherwise, it is a alternation between self-promotion, political musings, and open threads on general topics.

Bloggers, people read us because we have ideas, not because we figured out how to sign up at Blogger and Typepad. If we don't actually care about the theatre, if we don't actually have any ideas about theatre, then let's just shut down. It's been like naptime for weeks!
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Anonymous said...

I don't know whether or not this has ever occurred to you, but maybe people aren't writing or talking too much about issues like these because they're too busy getting up out of their chairs and doing something about them. Who's got time to blog when they're in the midst of doing something, y'know? You might want to consider the positive for once before you jump to negative conclusions. Just something to think about there.

Paul Rekk said...

Whatsamatta, Scott? Too Chicago-centric for ya?

Scott Walters said...

Then they oughta shut down their blog, nytheatre mike, and quit using up bandwidth. If doing is so much more important than thinking, then for God's sake do and quit wasting our time with imitation thoughts.

Paul -- No, too shallow and boring.

Kris Vire said...

Scott, I doubt that prescriptive pronouncements about what people should or shouldn't be writing in their own blogs are going to go over well.

As for Rebeck, yes, the dearth of productions of plays by women is a problem, and I for one have written about it several times this year alone, in print and on my blog. But consider too that Rebeck's screed (and frankly her tone isn't helping her any more than yours is you) is specifically about Broadway, which you've reminded us over and over again is not, in fact, the pot of gold at the end of the theatrical rainbow.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, on this front page of your blog I find six entries. Two of them are political and directly related to the current Presidential campaign, one of them is pointing your readers to another blog unrelated to theater in which you participated, and one them is a complaint about the lack of new ideas on theater blogs. Granted, the other two are substantial posts on theater, but neither is awash in new, exciting ideas on theater. In fact, one of them, the longest post, is an attack on Teresa Eying (I make no attempt at defending her), and I can't help but think how turned off I am by the increasing negativity of your writing.

devilvet said...


Scott, I cant say I disagree about the theatrosphere being quiet as of late on matters theatrical. You are right, it has been. I intrepret it to be many things not just some folks being so busy with theater that they cant post.

Would it be remiss of me to suggest that your site is alos alittle lighter post wise than it used to be?

Between fatigue, crazy schedules, and other pre-occupations, rehearsals, classes, etc things happen.

There are some I do think have decided to slow down. That is how I intrepret their absence. For whatever reason they have decided it better to just hang out and not stick their neck out too much cause either they lack interest in restarting specific debates or... who knows a ton of reasons.

This doesnt mean they should shut down their sites or some such non-sense.

Please do continue to encourage and create the sort of theatrosphere you desire, but realize that not everyone is going to so boldly shout out that they are taking a break as a certain someone has a various occasions.

A litle cojoling? Why not...but the sort of scolding...hmmmm... perhaps honey instead of vinegar?

Scott Walters said...

Yes, Mike, that is exactly the point -- I can't be solely responsible for creating all the energy and rigor for the whole theatrosphere. Some of you people -- and especially the Big Boys with big readership -- need to step up and provide some serious thought. To some extent, you do it (although I disagree with your unwillingness to actually stand up for your values). Sorry you don't like the negativity -- if there was some sort of creativity and intellectual depth happening on a few more blogs, I could relax and focus on my own work. But instead, the theatrosphere is becoming a combination of Daily Kos and Us Magazine. With more Us than Kos.

Bob -- Good, slow down. I've slowed down -- I'm in rehearsal. So I don't post. I don't post a bunch of superficial junk and shrugs just to keep people coming to the site.

Too much honey in the theatre. We need some vinegar.

devilvet said...

No kitten pics then?

Paul Rekk said...

Wow, do I need to put smiley faces on everything I write now? I was kidding around, but it's good to know where I stand...

You want vinegar? Here's my run down:

Decentralization and ruralism: mostly don't give a shit, unless you're fucking with my home.
Lack of women playwrights: give the mildest of shits.
Anything in American Theatre magazine: absolutely don't give a shit.
Artist as a viable profession: give so little of a shit that I might almost fight against the idea.
Copyright: give a shit.
The work taking place in the Chicago art scene: give a big shit.
Politics: couldn't give less of a shit.
Making sure that my fellow bloggers remain entertained: not my fucking concern.
Things that interest me: my fucking concern.

If the last one doesn't play into the penultimate one, I guess you're just fresh outta luck, aren't you, Scott? Shallow and boring as I may be, I'm keeping myself and at least a certain amount of others (shock! awe!) interested and engaged. Because the things I do give a shit about, and they are legion, are the things that I will find myself coming back to as I free associate.

If you can't hear that relativist mumble over your disinterest, then yeah, whatever is right. It's coming through full volume on my end.

Scott Walters said...

Paul -- Nice to know solipsism still is alive and well. As a worldview, it leaves something to be desired. Like a view of the world.

Scott Walters said...

Oh, and Kris: when valid arguments are rejected because of "tone," we have reached a nadir.

And in case you haven't noticed, I don't really give a damn about "going over well." We're talking about responsibility. A retreat into "it's my blog and I can write what I want" is a lame excuse for not taking responsibility for the state of the art form.

Paul Rekk said...

If the things I listed are the only things you see as representative of a worldview, I'll gladly pack my things and go all Walden on the joint.

It's a solipsistic world and it always has been. I'm trying to find connections between my solipsism and others. I see myself as succeeding. You're trying to break others free of their solipsism. You're throwing up your hands in frustration because you find hall monitor of the blogosphere not going as planned.

Another nadir, I assume? Do your thing, man, it seems to be working for you in that 'hey, look at me, i'll show you the right way, but trust me when i say i'm not self-centered, i just happen to have been gifted with the only answers that matter' way. I'll sit over in my cave where apparently apathy and lack of awareness are synonymous.

Laura said...

Perhaps I just have a different approach. While I am delighted to participate in stimulating conversations on the blogosphere, ultimately the reason I started blogging was for me, to articulate the bits bouncing around in my head. When I started to feel obligated to come up with something profound to say each day, I stopped enjoying it. Perhaps if we all hit a late summer lull at the same time, we may all suddenly get sparked off into productive idea trading again at the same time, too. I know, I know, there I go being all "honey" again.

isaac butler said...

Wait... let me get this straight, you think because it's been a week or two while people have been more focused on the conventions, other projects, the last holidays of the summer, getting back to work/school/their seasons etc, people should shut down their blogs?

I mean, I'm looking at my blog, my last big theatre post was two weeks ago. It's been very politics heavy since then, I'll fully admit that, and today I was like "well, I've got some stuff to say about how playwrights are represented on stage from what groups etc. in response to that Rebeck thing" and so I'll probably have another one today or tomorrow. Okay, so that'll be like two weeks. In that time, I've been following both conventions closely, exploring an American city and meeting with people in theatre there all day while spending time on vacation at night, and dealing with some serious writers block on projects that i'm getting paid to do, and all the day-to-day of being a director.

I'm not trying to be defensive here, I'm just explaining the gap in theatre-related content. It also came after a very long period of focusing on theatre, including the 10 part re:HTFA series etc.

I first saw the Rebeck article yesterday, and it's talking about very sensitive issues I don't want to post too hastily about, which is why I haven't posted about it... yet.

I wonder why a couple-week gap is enough to make you think we should all shut down our blogs? I think about theatre constnatly, I read about it all the time, I'm in conversation with my fellow artists and professionals both online and in real life. I fI don't feel like I can articulate something into a good blog post, I hold off on it.

Scott Walters said...

Enjoy the cave, Paul.

ian mackenzie said...

Hey Scott,

Why don't you invite some guest bloggers to post at Theatre Ideas? Maybe you can find four guests for four weeks or something.

Even if you don't agree with what they say, it'll give those bloggers an opportunity to write something substantial that they'll be able to share at your very prominent venue.

I'd love to see guest posts by Matt Freeman, Mike Lawler, Karen Evans and maybe another member of the University of North Carolina's drama faculty. Or maybe even a post by one of your students . . .

When Simon Ogden asked me to write a guest post at The Next Stage, it became one of the most rewarding writing experience of the year for me. I'm sure there are hundreds or writers out there who would be thrilled to appear in the Theatre Ideas space.

Just a thought for keeping the ideas flowing.

Freeman said...

I feel no urge to explain myself. I'm boring you? Read something else.

Scott Walters said...

Perfect, Matt.

Anonymous said...

My unwillingness to stand up for my values?!? Perhaps I'm too sensitive to you Scott, but that phrase is not only inane -- it's exceedingly pejorative. Just as you, I don't get paid a dime for my work on ecoTheater, but I put up posts on a regular basis in an attempt to inform and inspire my small readership. Not standing up for my values would be to sit here in the midwest on my hands and say nothing. It would be to not even engage someone like Lindsay Jones in a conversation about the trouble with constant air travel. It would be something I should be berated for, in fact -- but the work I do I'm proud of, and I think it is all born of my complete willingness to stand up for my values.

RLewis said...

Isaac, who asked you??? I wish that you'd keep your rational, justified, well-thought-out points on your own blog. We just can't have that kind of sensibleness here. ;)

Alison Croggon said...

Scott, are all your RSS feeds US based? Because it seems a bit rich attacking solipsism when you don't seem very aware of what's going on in the Rest Of The World. Where, believe me, there is plenty of passionate debate about theatre and ideas.

Scott Walters said...

Alison -- I believe (perhaps on another thread) I acknowledged this lack, expressed happiness that there were more lively blogs elsewhere, and asked for some advice from you about recommendations. Believe it or not, I don't have time to surf the 'sphere looking for blogs, and usually add them when I encounter links in other blogs. Your assistance would be appreciated.

Alison Croggon said...

You could start with: Chris Goode's Thompson's Bank of Communicable Desire; Andrew Haydon's Postcards from the Gods (both UK); David Williams' Compromise is Our Business; Carl Nilsson-Polias's blog (great interviews, recently with Tim Etchells and Deborah Hay); Matt Clayfield's Esoteric Rabbit; or James Waites' new blog, which has a great piece on a very interesting community theatre company, big hArt (all Australian).