Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kudos to Tony Adams

There is a fascinating discussion of "Content" going on over at Tony's blog. I would venture to say it is the theatrosphere at its finest, a real revelation of what dialogue (dare I say civil discourse?) could be here in blogworld.

Go and read and contribute. Then after you do, come back here.


You're back? Good. So here's my question: why is that conversation so good, and how do we make it happen
more often?
Blogged with the Flock Browser


RVCBard said...

I left my answer on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic, but I thought you might be interested in a new book that is well worth your time: In Defense of Lost Causes by Slavoj Zizek.

Here is a link:


Scott Walters said...

Brian -- Thanks for the book rec. From reading the description, I am a little puzzled as to why you think this is up my alley. If you happen to stumble back here, would you elaborate? Or email me.

E. Hunter Spreen said...

1. Tony/Chuy pose a great question.
2. Tony frames it in a way that is open and without pre-judgment as to what the "right" answer is, so genuine discourse is possible.
3. All input is considered and responded to when appropriate. People aren't being *talked over* (ignored). Even I stopped lurking and wanted to join in.
4.People aren't commenting just to comment.
5. People are invested in the conversation and curious about the question. Not commenting just to comment.
6. The core group of bloggers (from the Chicago area) communicate well with each other. Differences of opinion don't devolve into personal attacks, though there may be good natured ribbing.
7. They don't take themselves too seriously, so they make it fun to participate in the conversation.

How do we make it happen again?
I don't have good answer for that yet, but I do know it can't be forced or mandated.

Nick Keenan said...

Hunter, I LIKE YOUR STYLE. I'm gonna frame this comment on my wall.

Scott, remember when we talked about how we would know when the theatrosphere woke up? Well, it's a couple weeks after the election and our alarm seems to have gone off, ay?

It's nice to be learning to be in this marching band with you all, ladies and gentlemen.

Scott Walters said...

Nick -- Yes. The irony is that now I'VE gone to sleep.

Nick Keenan said...

That's okay, buddy. Everyone needs a nap. You'll wake up all nice and refreshed.

MMM! And then coffee and BACON!

Hey, here's a question for you, Scott... I've been looking over your writing about theater in/for/about prisons during your production of Kites, (I seem to remember you doing work with inmates as well, but that may be my memory getting the best of me?) and I'm absolutely fascinated by that kind of community-need-driven work after watching OT: Our Town and hearing the This American Life episode on a prison production of Hamlet Act V:

Are you still interested in continuing that kind of work in the future? What has been your take away so far about its effect on the inmates and your community?

Scott Walters said...

The "This American Life" episode is really powerful, isn't it? The guy playing Claudius talking about channeling his victim really struck me.

I continue to teach in the prison system (I'll be back there starting in January), and we did involve inmates in our production of "Thousand Kites" by asking them to write a letter to the audience, which was then distributed as part of the post-show discussion and used as a starting point for discussion.

Looking back at "Thousand Kites," my feelings are complex. On the one hand, the show powerfully impacted a lot of people who had never thought about the prison system and its effects on inmates, guards, and families. OTOH, there was a notable feeling of frustration and despair at the end of the piece, as if people had had their consciousness raised but they didn't know what to do with it except feel horrible. I don't think bringing another atrocity to the awareness of society is valuable unless you can provide some way for people to act on their feelings, and that didn't effectively happen in our production. It was intensity without productive release.

I would like to do work within the prisons where we create a piece, but a colleague of mine who did so in the past had his production cancelled two days before the performance because the prison administrator didn't like the content, which had been written by the inmates. I'd like to do a deff Poetry Jam sort of thing -- many of the inmates are powerful poetry writers. I am inspired by Cornerstone's approach to choosing classics that pertain to a particular community, but haven't thought about doing it within a prison. I am totally jazzed by Rhodessa Jones' Medea project. So yes, I am interested in continuing to work within the prison system (one of my first inmate-students was recently released and has been accepted as a student here at my college, which is gratifying beyond my ability to express).

The effect of my teaching in the prison system has been very positive. I stay in touch with many of the inmates, who tell me how much my course on the Hero's Journey meant to them. What is most important, I have found, is to have a teacher who listens to their ideas, who listens to their stories, and who allows them to process their experiences through the lens of art.

Tony Adams said...

Y'all folks are stupid damnit. . . . Er, I mean thanks for the kind words.

Scott this caught my attention,

"I don't think bringing another atrocity to the awareness of society is valuable unless you can provide some way for people to act on their feelings, and that didn't effectively happen in our production."

Not that it should be an after thought, but could a call to action be a follow-up. (To find out more, including ways you can help . . .) Much like saying thank you for coming as patrons leave, could that be a way to continue to connect with audiences after the performance?

Or do you feel, the call to action has to be in the actual production itself?

Scott Walters said...

Well, in our production, Act Three was a discussion. So: Act ONe: play; Act Two: documentary; Act Three: Discussion. I think there should be some way to release one's desire to "do something" as part of the show, even if it is just signing a petition or writing a quick letter to a Congressman, or adding your name to a reading list. But the overall effect of the play and documentary -- especially the documentary -- was despair, a sense that the prison-industrial complex was so huge and corrupt that it couldn't be affected; how to even start? Thta wasn't a good ending point, it seems to me.

Anonymous said...

That IS a great conversation. I posted this:

Hooray for Tony!

"Truth is, most theater is crap and we all know it. Sometimes that crap is ours and who wants to admit to putting up crap and charging money? On the other hand, in our nostalgia-loving endearment of the "classics" we forget that the classics were produced in fields of crap themselves and the reason they are classics is that they rose out of the shit and endured."

I'd actually go one step further and say that our attachment to dusty old plays is killing the art form. I like the classics as much as the next guy, but it's a little simplistic to say that modern theater is "trivial" in its content. Especially since we never get to, like, see any.

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