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Showing posts from August 6, 2006

Calling Allison Croggon

Since one of the complaints is that I don't really know whereof I speak as far as contemporary theatre is concerned, I'd like to start a new feature: Teach the Teacher. This is a segment where someone from the blogosphere recommends something they feel would be good for me to be exposed to, and I will seek it out and give it a read, and then I'll blog about it. If I remember, I'll try to do this once a month.

I'd like the first participant to be Allison Croggon, who long has suggested I ain't readin' the right books. Allison, recommend a play for me! What is an important play I need to read?

Mea Culpa

Dear Theatre Blogosphere and especially Fellow Bloggers,

I may be stubborn and dense, but when enough people hit me in the head with 2 X 4s, eventually I get the point. While many of you had a hand in the process of getting through to me, the ones who pushed me over the tipping point were Allison and Isaac with a good assist from Joshua.

To cut to the chase: I was wrong.

I felt that I had figured out a way to remove a point from abstract theory and give it a dramatic, emotional life. I didn't expect that others would have such a sense of personal betrayal, and at first I thought expressions of this sense of betrayal were simply an attempt to shift the conversation away from my point. Such is the effect of tunnel vision.

And while I tried to maintain a sense of objective calm, I know that the personal insults made me dig in my heels even more, and defend myself from accusations that I thought were not only unjust, but really hurtful.

But this morning as I walked across campus, I real…

Buried Child

I am so glad that Matt Johnson began a discussion of Sam Shepard's Buried Child, which along with A Lie of the Mind is a favorite play of mine. The complexities that Matt discusses make the play a wonderful leaping off place for exciting discussions of secrets, death and rebirth, and the American way of life.

I tend to look at the play more as myth than realism. Dodge, the pioneer and founder of the farm who hasn't planted a crop since the Depression; the next generation of sons, All-Americans all, and all crippled (physically, mentally) or dead, and lost; and the third generation, Vince, who is an artist (jazz musician).

For me, the last image of Tilden bringing the remains of the buried child up the stairs -- to confront his mother? -- is haunting. But what fascinates me is the question: why now? Why, after all this time, can the baby be unearthed now?

I think the answer centers on Vince, about whom, despite his long absence in the middle of the play, I think the play is ab…

Final Words

I was prepared to leave things where they were yesterday had not a brief tour of the websites and my comments box revealed a concerted effort to misrepresent the nature of my undertaking. Disinformation is disinformation, and it must be countered. For the record, the experiment was not to "prove" that people who are attacked will react, which, as others have noted, would be a "duh" conclusion.

The point was to show that even the most self-described open, reflective, and insightful members of our society -- our artists -- will react in the same way we have seen other groups react, and that artists have condemned for their reaction.

The pattern, borne out in the past few days, is as follows:

1. Personal Attack -- insult the person with the unpopular ideas on a base, personal level.
2. Circle the Wagons -- gather together those who share the idea under attack and reinforce, through reiteration and mutual congratulation, the value of the original concept
3. Attack the Ou…

Reactions (Bah, Part 3)

Note: I overlooked a very thoughtful analysis of this entire affair by YS over at "The Mirror Up to Nature." His post, entitled "The Sid Finch of the Theatrical Blogosphere," is well worth your time. -- SW
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What an interesting day yesterday was. I continue to learn a great deal from the theatre blogosphere. While George Hunka has officially declared the Great Theatre Blogosphere Dustup of 2006 officially ended (Daddy, apparently having had enough, has turned around to tell the kids in the back seat "I can turn this blogosphere around and we can just go home!"), I would like to review the responses that I have gotten on my blog, and the comments that also were contributed to George's blog, as well as a few late posts to various blogs. At the end, I will respond to George's calling me out: "Scott describes himself as a man who "err[s] on the side of NOT step…

The Distorted Mirror (Bah! Part 2)

In 1964, Robert Brustein began his now-classic book The Theatre of Revolt with a description of the modern theatre (which he dated from Ibsen):

Now, imagine a perfectly level plain in a desoltae land. In the foreground, an uneasy crowd of citizens huddle together on the ruins of an ancient temple. Beyond them, a broken altar, bristling with artifacts. Beyond that, empty space. An emaciated priest in disreputable garments stands before the ruined altar, level with the crowd, glancing into a distorting mirror. He cavorts grotesquely before it, inspecting his own image in several outlandish positions. The crowd mutters ominously and partially disperses. The priest turns the mirror on those who remain to reflect them sitting stupidly on rubble. They gaze at their images for a moment, painfully transfixed; then, horrorstruck, they run away, hurling stones at the altar and angry imprecations at the priest. The priest, shaking with anger, futility, and irony, turns the mirror on the …

Bah!

Well, call me a tease. It has been weeks since I grandiosely posted that maybe I was wrong, and I was going to try to get some exchanges of ideas going -- I even hinted I might post something radical. Then silence.

Of course, I can claim busyness -- classes start in two weeks and I have a lot to finish before then. But that would only be half the story. The other half --or perhaps 3/4 -- is disinterest. Not in blogging, but rather in theatre. That wasn't an easy sentence to write -- I've been doing theatre for over thirty years now. But it is true nonetheless. Let me explain.

For much of the summer, I have been reading books and attending conferences about innovation. Sometimes, this innovation has been technological -- learning about wikis, podcasts, RSS feed, social bookmarking, and so forth, and how they might have the potential to change education and the way we interact. Worlds of possibilities opened out. Sometimes, this innovation has been in the form of "…