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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Loathing: The Saga Continues

As promised here is the follow-up to yesterday's tale and Reason #2 that there is too much theatre in Denver.

One year later: Meet Gladys. Gladys has just moved into our fair city. Gladys loves theatre, so she immediately opens her laptop at the neighborhood coffeehouse in search of info on the local theatre scene.
What's this? Somebody's doing the cute but overdone "Vishnuspell," someone else is doing the tired old chesnut "The Preschool Dilemma." And two, yes, two theatres are both doing versions of the insipid but popular "I Don't Think That's My Meatball."
Gladys is appalled. Have they no culture in this town? Is it all just the mind-numbing cotton candy theatre fare in this town.
Have they never heard of the wonderful classic works of Renaissance-era scribe Horace Pantaloni?
Gladys is resolved. She will start her own theatre company devoted to the works of Pantaloni. She will bring culture to this town.

Six months later: Meet Barney. Barney loves to go see theatre. It's more expensive than movies or cable or internet porn, but there is something magical about the live experience. Barney opens up his paper to see what's playing in town.
Oh, look, they've extended the run of "Vishnuspell" again. He's seen it three times, but it is just so charming. Why, just this morning he was humming the showstopping "Walking Arm-in-Arm-in-Arm-in Arm-in-Arm-in-Arm With You." Hmm, someone's doing "I Don't Think That's My Meatball" again.  He did just see that  six months ago at both of the theatres that were doing it, but it is just so funny.  He ruined at least one pair of pants.  Oh, and this version is supposed to be different and risky. They've double-cast the meatball? Wow!
Hey, what's this? Oh, a new theatre group: Hoity-Toity Theatre Company presents Pantaloni's classic romantic drama, "Why Must You Lick That?" Closing weekend.
Ooooh. Pantaloni. Barney read Pantaloni in boarding school. He is known as the uncle of playwrighting. They call him "The Poet."Ooooh. The Poet.
Barney is intrigued. But Barney is reticent. Pantaloni can be difficult to understand. He's never seen Pantaloni performed except for that DVD of Kenneth Branagh in "Pantaloni's The Lancing of the Boil."
Barney is not comfortable with the unfamiliar. He recalls the unfortunate and confusing experience of watching "The Fungus Chronicles" at Myron'sATool Theatre a year ago. The image of the strange little man with the lantern still haunts him.
Still, Barney is intrigued. He would like to see Pantaloni, to expand his horizons, to become a little more cultured.
Well, maybe next time. Perhaps some weekend when "Vishnuspell" or "I Don't Think That's My Meatball" aren't playing somewhere else in town.
Meanwhile, across town Gladys sits in her empty theatre.
"Why has no one come to see my Pantaloni," she moans. Over two weekends, she's sold only fourteen tickets - three of them to the same weird little man carrying a lantern.
Perhaps Hoity-Toity Theatre was not well thought out. Perhaps she did not market well enough.
Ridiculous. Pantaloni requires no marketing.
Perhaps it is time to close Hoity-Toity Theatre. But how will Gladys know that she is a valid artist if she has no theatre of her own?
No, it is time for a new approach. Aha! Hoity-Toity Theatre presents "I Don't Think That's My Meatball."
Yes! But wait, would that not make Hoity-Toity a redundancy, an unnecessary draw upon the limited public funds for the arts?
Don't be silly. Of course not! Gladys will present "I Don't Think That's My Meatball" in a groundbreaking new fashion: she will double cast the meatball. Eureka!

One year later: Meet Hyacinth. Hyacinth has just moved to our fair city. She loves theatre. As she surfs the entertainment page on her laptop, she is appalled. Back by popular demand: "Vishnuspell!" Held over for two more weeks: "I Don't Think That's My Meatball!" A special fundraising event for The Daughters of the American Conflict in Grenada: "The Preschool Dilemma!"
What? Has no one ever heard of the great Pantaloni? . . .
There's no happy ending to this story, either.
I suppose that is the age old question: do you give theatre audiences only what they clamor for, or do you expand their palates, inspiring them to clamor for something different? Well, that's not easy to do as long as somebody, somewhere is always doing "Vishnuspell."
The second question is, if finally no one wants to see your "Pantaloni," is it right to simply change your mission, particularly when there are plenty of others out there with the same mission?
Food for thought.

You may commence hating me again. Oh, you never stopped?

1 comment:

Kendall Scot said...

"Walking Arm-in-Arm-in-Arm-in Arm-in-Arm-in-Arm With You."

I laughed so hard, coffee shot out my nose...

You truly have a gift!!