Thursday, January 21, 2010

Scott Says, Enough With the Old Audience Stuff...

Scott Walters at Theatre Ideas says he is a proud part of the "aging" audience:

And that's actually the real problem with this audience: we are smart enough to know BS when we see it. You know why middle-aged, white-haired, middle-class spectators like me aren't rushing out to buy tickets to many new plays? It isn't because you're too "out there," too "radical" for us to appreciate; it's because what you write about is stuff we've already lived through and moved past. We've been to the puppet show and we've seen all the strings. Most of you have little to say that we haven't heard before, and thought about before, and probably lived through before. Being shocked isn't that big of a thrill anymore. Tell us something important about life. Something with some depth and complexity. Something with some heart and soul, some deep understanding.

All this conjecturing in Outrageous Fortune about how older audiences don't like "formal experimentation" is nonsense. The fact is that people who are over 60 invented postmodernism, and most of the other formal experiments that are happening were invented in the early 20th century. Are you integrating video into your performance -- Robert Edmond Jones suggested that in The Dramatic Imagination in 1941. Are you experimenting with ambiguous narrative? Akiro Kurosawa was doing that in Rashomon in 1950, and it was onstage in 1959. I could go down the list -- most were invented by the Dadists, Expressionists, Futurists, and Symbolists of the late 19th and early 20th century. How old is Richard Foreman? Seventy-two. Judith Malina? Coming up on eighty-four.

We're down with formal experimentation. but we also are experienced enough to recognize when formal experimentation is just a mask for having little to say, and we're not patient with that anymore. Patience is no longer one of our virtues. Our time is short, and we don't feel like wasting it while you rediscover Absurdism.

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