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A Meme with a Pulse

May 02, 2008 By: Nick Keenan Category: projects, Uncategorized

I’ve been going over something like 2,000 blog posts that I missed while off on my honeymoon, and it looks like Don, dv, and Scott Walters got in another inevitable scrap in my absence over whether ’tis nobler in the mind to NY-LA-CHI or not to NY-LA-CHI. I’ve played peacebroker with all three gentlemen before (not that any of them want a peacebroker, because that doesn’t lead to the kind of interesting blog conversation that they want to have) and I’ve found it interesting that having that discussion flare up created more convoluted one-note shrillness than take-away insight that could end up helping new readers. On the other hand, argument it does help those readers generate their own opinions, which is a wonderful thing.

It’s the way blogging goes, but in the interest of experimentation and continuing the growth of dialogue, I’d like to propose a meme to play with the dynamics of this regional discussion.

The meme: enlist a new voice to join the theater blogging community – someone who brings a new perspective to the discussion of theater. Preferably one that is challenging to your own perspective. Some women, maybe, since they’re underrepresented? I’ve been working on a few of my friends who find themselves too busy but I think could represent the more practical side of producing theater. Someday, one of them will buckle and we’ll have some eye-opening thoughts from these geniuses. (yeah, I mean you, Tiff and Marcus…)

I tag Scott, Don, ecoTheater, and dv… natch. (and yes, Bob… I owe you a meme and I haven’t forgotten. These past few weeks have taught me new lessons I learned the hard way, so I thought I’d wait until the dust settled on them. Sumimasen.)

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8 Comments to “A Meme with a Pulse”

  1. Nick,

    How incredibly selfish of you to make me go out an enlist a new voice to the theatre blogging community

    (I keeeed I keeeed). However let me say that is not an easy challenge you propose. Most people I know aren’t all that interested in blogging (as authors rather than readers that is).

    My experience when talking about blogging is that it is harder to get someone to blog or respond to a post than to get them to come see a show.

    I’ll try though. I need to conceive of my candidates carefully though…hmmmmmm.


  2. “I’ve found it interesting that having that discussion flare up created more convoluted one-note shrillness than take-away insight that could end up helping new readers.”

    You know this makes me think…sometimes I am interested in the folks out there dailing up as “readers” but sometimes I am more interested in them as “audience” you know? Sometimes I think of them as these sort of fellow passangers on the bus of blogosphere who are welcome to eavesdrop in…then suddenly they e-a-s-e-drop in…

    Then suddenly another voice, a fresh voice enters the dialogue…and all of the sudden it’s like “ohhhh that’s right…we’re on the party line are we”


  3. Sheesh, that’s just what I need — another blogger who DOESN’T share my views. I could use a few more who DO share them, so I could take a breather every now and then!

    So you want us to get someone to start a new theatre blog, or just join in the discussion?

  4. Sorry guys, off the grid for the weekend.

    Ha ha, Scott.

    Believe me, I know how hard this meme is to do, and I think it’s a long term meme that might involve some kind of candy prize. Don’t rush it on my account. But yes: We’re looking for a new voice. A new theater blogger. Someone who’s willing to bring a new perspective to the discussion and that DOES mean more new ideas.

    It’s hard to do, but I think that there’s something really incredible that happens to my own voice when I encourage someone else to really step up and speak. One of my assistants, Steve, recently got nominated for a sound design award for a show where he really took what I thought was “my” design philosophy and expanded upon it using his own approach. In many ways that was a much greater affirmation of the ideas that I’m putting forward as a designer and teacher than if I had been nominated myself. The ideas had merit beyond the sound of my own voice and my own work.

    I think the ideas you gentlemen put forward have value beyond your voice, but it’s not always clear where your voices end and your ideas begin, because it’s hard not to marry the two. Even when you write in character, as Don often does.

  5. Some women, maybe, since they’re underrepresented?

    *meekly raises hand*

    I’d love to be asked to join the theater blogging community.

  6. Sa-weeet!

    Great stuff, RVCBard. Welcome to the Theater for the Future Blogroll. Too bad it looks like it’s too late to lobby you towards Chicago. Best of luck with NYC.

    I especially love this point that you made a few months ago, and as a white bread male (though I tend to identify more with women for various reasons), this is EXACTLY the nagging doubt which inspired this meme…

    As a Black woman educated at an HBCU, it has been very interesting to notice the overlap between gender, ethnicity, and aesthetics. It’s not my personal crusade, but it is something I think about. How and in what way do you see the arts (whatever your specialty) as being dominated by a particularly White and masculine aesthetic? To what extent is the current artistic climate able to enter meaningful discourse with divergent works? How should artists and audiences go about doing that? What can we do to expand our artistic paradigms (and vocabulary) to incorporate different methods of artistic expression?

    I see this current conversation on bootstrap theater to serve new communities better (which for me is a really new and exciting conversation) as overwhelmingly driven by white males with (no offense, guys) time to kill in their day jobs or ulcer-driven insomnia. What’s convenient for us is that a common cultural perspective means that we’re concerned about the same subjects, and we approach these problems of access and industry like we’re supposed to lead the charge to fix them, and we’ll ask the questions of impact later. There’s this nagging tone of conquest (which is driving the debate) and ambition and downright righteousness in this dialogue, and I see it in my own writing and ideas. And while I don’t always trust my ideas as a result, I think that testing all our ideas by seeing what lands with a wide variety of theatrical perspectives and voices may reveal the ideas that are worth pursuing and using as a group.

    An example of this? All those posts on the value of theater last month. That was a topic that everyone has an opinion about, and I think a lot of differences were explored and some common ground was identified. I’ve already started using what I learned from that conversation to hone my own artistic aesthetic and choose projects for this coming season that are better examples of theater that demonstrates its own value.

    But there’s that nagging question of my own perspective here. I can’t help that I’m a white male – indeed, I more often identify as a lower middle class kid who made and paid his own way through education from a poor but culturally rich childhood – but where I grew up being a white male meant that you shouldered some anxiety and guilt for being both of those things. I know I’m lucky as crap to have the artistic outlet and connections that I do, and I have some responsibility to use those connections to benefit artistic works and artists that may be alien to me but clearly have societal value. If I can do that, I get to also be me without apology.

    That’s all to say – thanks for writing, it resonates. Alas, it appears that the response I had in me is a pretty cliched male guilt monologue… I think I just needed to state all that. Do you feel like you need to be asked to join the conversation? Do you feel like you need (or want) to appear meek to be accepted in it? What parts of the conversation read as vital to to you and are there subjects and threads that strike you as irrelevant BS? Either way, I’ll be reading…

  7. Nick,

    I’ll post my answer on my blog.

  8. *listens to crickets chirping*


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