Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Off Stage Conversations

Hello, it's Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League with this week's Off Stage Conversations, looking at the interesting posts and articles about our industry at a national and international level.

Sex and Violence (On Stage)

Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune writes about the believability of sex onstage and how it differs from sex on film. (Beware Chicago Tribune is now paywalled, but you can sign up for five free articles.) Jones believes that sex onstage generally doesn't work and that nudity on stage becomes about the actor, not about the character.

Charles McNulty writes for the LA Times on violence in theatre, asking "What is the line between acceptable and unacceptable violence in art?" He notes that contemporary playwrights are using more detached violence, and notes that his personal taste for that is declining as he gets older. He compares the work of Sarah Kane with Martin McDonaugh, noting that the violence in Blasted never feels detached from the conflict of the play or from the author.

In light of our current society -- it's always good to ask when are shocking things organic to the work and when are they just extras? And more importantly, when do they detract more than they add?

The Power of People

Peter Miller (who is the board chair of Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC) continues his series on marketing for 2amtheatre, saying that theatres should try and build a relationship between their stable of actors and their audience -- so that every actor can bring their own celebrity name power. Instead looking at marketing a concept or a pre-branded show, pitch stories around your people. Our audiences have a relationship with our work and us through their relationship with our work, and it's something that could be better utilized.

Working with Celebrities

However, if you're looking to use more traditionally defined celebrities, Know Your Bone has some great practical advice on approaching them. A lot of these make sense as general fundraising guidelines as well.
Even if a celebrity – or any person, for that matter – cares deeply about your cause, they are not your nonprofit. They have their own story, connections, and attitudes toward the cause. Successful organizations will do diligent research, find out where passions cross, and make an ask or create an event that caters to that unique focus.
There's smart practical stuff here.

Social Media

Eight Common Mistakes Nonprofits Make When They Join Twitter. It's a great tool for those of you who are venturing out into an unknown social media. Our community vastly prefers facebook, in my experience.

Speaking of facebook, Playwrights' Horizons is the first theatre to sell tickets directly on facebook. It'll be interesting to see if that takes off as a ticketing platform.


The way I would like you to think of failgreat is as a philosophy of making art in such a way that even if a particular project or your entire organization fails, it will be obvious to any observer, especially yourself, that you were credibly striving for greatness right up to the moment of failure.
Money, Entitlement and Audiences

Dave Malloy has a great piece for Culture Bot that came from him being completely silent on a Under The Radar panel discussion. He speaks about audiences, talent, challenging work, criticism, and wonders why we keep on complaining about the same things as a community, often when they aren't true.
The complaints that are so prevalent in this community seem based more in a selfish, sour grapes, “but why don’t I get that” mentality, than in an actual crisis of the system itself. Yes there are olden, sad theaters that produce play after boring play by straight white men, and there are olden sad critics who write about interesting work in ill-informed ways, but there are and more and more alternatives every season, and those genre-pushing theaters and pieces are often the ones that get the most attention.

There's a lot there to be unpacked that I haven't even mentioned, but it's nice to hear someone openly talk about entitlement in the industry. I don't agree with some of his conclusions, but they're well framed. I do think more theatre artists could benefit from Creative Capital workshops, so that they can become more active in their own careers and look to different ways to earn money from their work, but that's a side conversation to the questions of entitlement and talent that Malloy brings up.

And that's it for this week. I'm out of town next week and will be taking next Wednesday off from blogging. I will be back with Off Stage Conversations on March 6. Thanks everyone!

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