Sunday, June 3, 2007

Red State Hooey

There is this odd notion in certain corners of the theater blogosphere that theater must speak to, or represent the concerns of, red state conservatives. It correlates with the outdated political notion that candidates must craft a message tailored to one elderly white male who lives in middle America, while the country is actually becoming more urban and more ethnically diverse. Plus, red state conservatives have had the entire government of the most powerful country in the history of the world speaking for them for six years now. The idea that theater should somehow also be responsible for promoting their agenda is bizarre.

50 comments:

parabasis said...

I concur!

Leonard Jacobs said...

And in the opposite corner, Zach Mannheimer...

Moxie said...

I was just thinking about this while watching the democratic debate - how candidates really vary in terms of how dramatically compelling they are, and how theatrical the whole thing is. Being in casting, I think about it a lot. If the candidates were actors, who would I cast in the role of great president? I think the popular vote depends on this much more than we'd like to think.

parabasis said...

There is no reason why theatre made here in downtown NYC has any obligation to speak to those outside of its community. That does not mean it should coddle its community... in fact, it should challenge that community (lovingly). But I don't understand that predilliction that some have towards arguing that theatres should appeal to their communities while simultaneously arguing that theatre in NYC has to appeal to their community. It makes no sense.

(although, this all being said, theatre made in NYC that does appeal to other communities is all fine and good and valid. i'm just saying that it being all fine and good and valid doesn't mean that other kinds of theatre are therefore not valid)

Laura said...

You know, I was having fun watching your blogging event. Kind of wishing that I was a part of it all.

I don't speak for red state conservatives, nor does my blog. The fact that I'm a transplanted New Yorker living in Alabama says nothing, other than that.

Mark said...

Thought you had. My apologies if that's not the case.

parabasis said...

Hey Laura... how's Alabama?

True story... Laura and I met in George Hunka's backyard and a barbecue attended by Dan Trujillo (With family), me, Laura and Mac Rogers...

Laura said...

My last play was on government influence over the riots at the Democratic Convention in 1968. That's hardly a conservative topic.

At Gasp, I only speak for myself. But thanks for letting me know that people thinks that stuff about me and my blog. It's not true, and I'm happy to dispel the notion.

(Alabama isn't as red as you think. Austin, Texas was far worse.)

Laura said...

Hey Issac,
You know, I'm enjoying Parabasis more and more. I just wanted to let you know.

And that is true about the BBQ. Isaac was so funny. He kept talking and talking and talking... I was so scared of him! :)

parabasis said...

Sorry about that. I was but a boy then. Now i'm a not-quite-a-boy and not-quite-as-talkative or something.

I'm glad you're enjoying the blog more and more, Laura, I take that as high praise considering you've been reading it for like four years. I've been greatly enjoying yours too!

Laura said...

Isaac,

Oh, I always wanted to tell you that because I wondered if you thought I was being snobby. You were but a boy and I had that internal bleeding problem. Quite a BBQ, that day.

Mark said...

I didn't mean to imply that you were a conservative, Laura. I know that both you and Scott identify Democrat.

Scott has been very vocal, however, about his belief that theater artists must create work speaking to the concerns and beliefs of red state conservatives. I seem to remember that you had said similar things. And just this week you said you often agree with Scott - and what I'm talking about is the primary thing his blog concerns itself with.

Is that not the case?

Joshua James said...

I think it may be less your blog and more your affection for Mr. Walters, Laura, which may have cause the confusion . . . you stated you often agreed him but not on which specific matters . . . and in his last interview Mr. Walters stated something to the effect of what Mark's talking about regarding red state matters, something like that. . .

But hey, we're free to agree or disagree with whomever, right?

Leonard Jacobs said...

What exactly does speaking the concerns of red state conservatives mean? Do you suggest the American theatre devote an entire wing of itself to the promotion of hatred gussied up as Bible studies?

Joshua James said...

Oops, Mark and I posted at the same time.

Hey Laura, I love your blog, as you know . . . I especially liked the theatre as the bad boyfriend post . . .

Laura said...

Oh.... Okay. I see. It was because of that (sigh) meme which I'm sorry I imposed upon everyone.

Scott's thought on aesthetics are different from mine. Between you and me and anyone else reading, I think he would like the Little Theater movement to come back. I'm speaking for him, I suppose... (Well, yeah) but if the Little Theater movement came back, it wouldn't be a bad thing. It would be like having indie theater all over the country. That's what I keep reading when I go to his blog.

Of course, I could be mis-reading him. But that's what I agree with.

I don't regard that as being conservative. I miss NYC a great deal, but hate flying.

Am I mis-reading him?

Leonard Jacobs said...

I would argue that OOB and, I guess, the blogosphere, is what has become of the Little Theatre movement. I also think there's a romanticization of that movement that comes out of a lack of a full understanding of what that time period was like. The idealism of the post-World War I period is not likely ever to visit upon us again.

Laura said...

We'll always have Weimar, won't we? :)

I think out in these hinderlands, people want good theater. They *crave* it. I wanted to work locally because there are an abundance of good actors doing Broadway retreads. I think that's the case all over the country. It would be nice to see original theater throughout the US.

Leonard Jacobs said...

I agree with that completely. But if Endgame can be produced in prisons, surely we can produce Torch Song Trilogy in Topeka.

Mark said...

I completely agree with your last comment Laura. Original theater everywhere would be fantastic.

Laura said...

There are pockets of places throughout the country that are weirdly rigid about content. Every now and then, I read an article in the newspaper about it.

As for me, my stereotypes of Alabama were far worse than reality. I really thought people out here would have all sorts of issues with content. They don't.

The problem may be pools of talent, etc. I just know that the production of cheesy musicals throughout the US must end. Seriously.

Mark said...

I actually think that the community theater movement throughout America has done more to perpetuate NY-centrism than anything anyone in New York has done. Rather than creating stories based on their "communities" (as one would think), "commmunity theater" has come to mean getting dressed up and reenacting popular plays from the NY repertoire

Leonard Jacobs said...

New York theatre is brilliantly branded. And that's good for New York's economy, because they want to come here and spend money and see cheesy crap, and that pumps the money in. What it doesn't do is persuade them to see more interesting OB -- scratch that -- OOB stuff, and that's all about branding as well.

Laura said...

Exactly Mark. I totally agree. Yeah.

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