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Showing posts from September 7, 2008

The Result of Not Telling Our Own Stories

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"We know now that, if we don't express ourselves as individuals, if we keep our stories bottled up inside us, eventually we will get sick. The stress will manifest as disease. The human body is, after all, an integrated system.
I suggest that, in the same way our bodies are made up of cells that constitute a living organism, a community is made up of individual people that comprise the organism I call the loving community. Communities are alive and need to express themselves just like people; if they don't, they get sick, just like people. The proof of all this is all around us. As cultural life has become more and more consumer oriented, living communities have manifested more and more disease.

This is because communities have become fragmented into individualized consumers and have lost their ability to collectively tell their stories.

Theatre, like all other forms of cultural expression, used to be ordinary people singing, dancing, telling stories. This was the way a livi…

Response from Joshua Conkel

After asking permission from Mr. Conkel, the author of The Chalk Boy that was reviewed by Rachel Saltz in the New York Times, and that I commented on below in my post "On Ruralism," I am posting Conkel's response. I do so not only to provide balance, but also because I think Mr. Conkel's response illustrates the kind of willingness to thoughtfully reflect and engage in the examination of an issue. Mr Conkel writes as follows:

A friend sent me a link to your blog and I must admit I was a little surprised by what was being written about me and my show. I had seen the New York Times review only a couple of hours before and was still really sensitive, so in a way it's probably better that my comment didn't publish.

While I don't fail to see the irony in a New York Times theater critic accusing me of having contempt, it was still a painful experience to read, particularly because up until that point the show had received mostly glowing reviews. As one of your co…

Divine Fury

My friends, wanting to spare me my murderous impulses and practicing a therapy I respect and despise, tell me to calm down, give it time, things are happening. Things are happening: I want to look at them and see what's really happening. And to those who share my view of what the theater might be but defer to the sluggard drift of things, I want to say what Brecht's Galileo said to the Little Monk, temporizing in pity for those who, fixed in the old routines, scrape a living somehow -- on the premise that if whatever is is not right, it is at least unalterable -- "I can see their divine patience, but where is their divine fury?"
Herbert Blau
The Impossible Theatre: A Manifesto

I look around the theatre world, both on-line and off, and my mind boggles at the sheer complacency and superficiality. Over at TCG, Teresa Eyring pens a few vacuous ideas and thinks she's done something that deserves comment. Eyring, who as head of TCG ought to be considered an importa…

For devilvet

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Whatever

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&…

On Ruralism

I can't tell whether Matt Freeman has his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek when he writes that he kind of likes a little contempt in this theatre, and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt he's earned as a long-time respectful blogger, so I'll just say that I give Rachel Saltz great credit for expressing discomfort with the small town bashing that seems to lie at the center of The Chalk Boy by Joshua Conkel. In her last paragraph, she writes:

A cynicism that too often looks like contempt runs through the play: for Clear Creek and the other nowhere towns that form “a dotted line across America’s grossly obese belly”; for the pop culture inside that obese belly; and, most important, for characters like Lauren, whom Mr. Conkel uses as straw men. If you lead with contempt, it’s hard to make an audience follow.

Indeed. It must have been really bad for a reviewer from the New York Times to be discomfited. I've addressedthistopic before -- this constant and gra…