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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Will the Wolf Survive?

My followers on Twitter and my friends on Facebook have already heard me muse about the possibility of bringing an end to this blog, and, in spite of a chorus of "why?"s, "don't"s, and "no!"s, it is still very much a possibility.
I consider myself to be an advocate for Denver theatre. That is the main reason that I started this blog. Yes, I devote some space to local eateries, some to my favorite charities, but, really, this blog is about getting butts into seats for theatre. (I have to be honest when I say that I don't know how effective I have been at this.)
However, it has come to my attention over the last few months that I am not always - or even often - seen as an advocate.
When I am greeted at a show after-party by a reader of my blog who wants to know who I'm "going after next," and a friend refers to One Big Bad Wolf as my "bitchy blog," I begin to wonder if my occasional trips to the soapbox are giving people the wrong impression about what I'm trying to do.
This kind of hit home over the last couple of days when a few of my blog readers (knowing of my criticism of Vintage Theatre's decision to expand their 2010 season by about 30%) began sending me links to a couple of unfavorable reviews of Vintage's current production of Dial M for Murder. The links were accompanied by little notes, saying "Thought you might like this." or "You'll get a kick out of this."
In fact, someone closely involved with the production rather facetiously sent me links to both of the reviews with the subject line "Enjoy!"
Sorry, folks. Just because I don't agree with some of Vintage's recent choices doesn't mean I'm looking to see them fail. (Not that a couple of bad reviews constitute failure by any means.)
However, somewhere along the line I must have given you the impression that I would delight in the misfortunes of others in the theatre world with whom I take issue.
Not so. Like I always say, "we're all in this together."
That's why I speak up when I think Vintage is making a decision that I think will hurt them and, more importantly, hurt others in the community struggling for the same audience. That's why I raise my voice when I think that the non-profit theatre system is being misused by people who just want to create a 501c3 to direct a play they've written, or to direct a show they've always wanted to direct, or just put all of their closest friends on stage, or to do their version of a play that's already been done to death, or just because existing companies are monopolizing opportunities by always pulling from the same small pool of directors and actors for all of their productions.
I won't sit idly by while a theatre board that receives public funds keeps hiring themselves to direct the season's shows. No non-profit outside of the theatre realm would ever be allowed to engage in such corrupt behavior, and, if I am truly an advocate for Denver theatre, I won't let such corruption go on without shining a light on it if I can.
Putting caucasian children in bronze make-up, black wigs, and slant-eyed make-up to fill the coffers with a production of The King and I is deplorable behavior - especially in the 21st century. It's called "yellowface," and it's not as cute as you think it is. When the perpetrators of such blatant racism attempt to hide behind phrases like "But it's a classic" or "audiences want it," I feel that, as a proponent of quality theatre in our fair city, I should probably be telling them to blow it out their greedy, culturally-insensitive keisters. ("Amos and Andy" was a popular classic, too, you over-privileged morons.)

But I digress. The question with which I have been wrestling over the last couple of days is:

Can I continue to be a supporter of the wonder that is live theatre while refusing to accept the aforementioned atrocities as simply part-and-parcel of the animal that is community theatre?
Can I still be an advocate while also advocating change? At what point do I move from proponent to opponent - at least in the eyes of my readers?

The answer, as near as I can surmise thus far, is "I don't know."

Feel free to chime in. Frankly, I'm stuck.


Randy Diamon said...

I've never thought of you as an opponent of the theatre community; in fact, in some cases, the argument could be made that you're the Voice of the theatre community. And I've never once read anything you've written that would lead me to believe that you wanted a theatre or theatre production to fail.

It appears to me as if it is individual readers that are misinterpreting your words, and unfortunately, I have no remedies for that.

I would just hope you choose not to discontinue your blog, as I, personally, enjoy your viewpoint.

The Eclectic WAHM said...

I enjoy reading your blog whether I agree with what you write or not. For what it's worth, I've never read you as being an opponent of the community - just the opposite.

You need to do what's best for you. I would be sad to see the blog discontinued.

Jenn said...

Maybe just make it more clear what you are trying to do, and make it clear in each post. Since you're getting to be more widely read, you will have to deal with more fire and misunderstandings perforce, but you can still clarify every time.

For example, I didn't realize you only did positive reviews when you did reviews at all until very recently.

Make it plain and do it over and over, and then at least you know those who love your blog will know what you're doing, and those that don't, well, :sigh: oh well.

Erica Gamet said...

Being one of the catalysts in getting you started on doing a blog, I feel a little responsible. I also think you've gone far beyond what I ever imagined you'd do with it...and I think that's a good thing! Your writing is humorous, thought-provoking, and (dare I admit?) sometimes tear-bringing.

Much of the time your musings are just fun to read, sometimes they're eye-opening. There are times when I flat-out disagree with your point of view, or your reasons behind that point of view. But the thing is, you're saying something that needs to be said. You often discuss what is only whispered about in the wings or at cast parties. You say it and you bring that conversation to the table. And by table, I mean the whole world.

If bringing about much-needed conversation in our little corner of the world (theater, Denver, whatever our little corner is) and enlightening your readers and broadening their horizons isn't "doing good," then I don't know what is.

Julia said...

I just recently moved to Denver, and I have frankly found it very difficult to find ANY information about the theater scene beyond straight listings (which are absolutely not helpful). It sort of feels like you're either plugged in and know everyone or you aren't and know nothing.

So I was pleased to see a blogger writing about "the scene", even though all I've seen since I've been reading have been your complaints. (Your complaints, by the way, are enlightening, and I hate The King and I!)

I think the blog has more to offer, and for that I'd love to see you continue with it. Not all of your readers know all the players like you do, so that might be a place to start.