Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tweet Seats - Just Another Realignment in Shrinking Arts Coverage

In this morning's Boston Globe, an article appeared which has Facebook on fire with condemnation.

Apparently, some theater companies are trying to find ways to assimilate the lifestreaming creative class into the quiet of the performance hall. Or at least that is one way you can read the article.

Indeed, the outrage in the comments following the Globe piece, and on Facebook, focuses on the  obvious potential disturbance of lighted smartphones and the accompanying tapping sounds on touch screens or keypads. The technological barbarians, it would seem from reading these statements, are at the gate! And theater organizations, beaten down by a seige-like convergence of dying older subscribers and disinterested younger demographics, appear to be willing to hand over the keys.

However, it seems that what this story is really about is the continuing decline of arts journalism and theater coverage. Finding the normal conduits of reviews and advertising in the Arts and Entertainment sections of traditional mainstream media outlets shrinking, an arts organization might imagine that the prospect of anybody who can bring a "following" of 10,000 people or more would be enticing. The official twitter account of the Boston Globe Arts Section has only 4,808 followers.

For instance, a desired demographic for many theater companies in Boston might include people who read Slate, Salon, Huffington Post...Gawker? Try finding consistent coverage of local theater at those addresses.

Twitter can solve that problem to a certain extent in that the service hits the desired demographic and can function simultaneously at a local and global level. Though a new problem arises in the fact that the feed quickly consigns tweets, providing that they aren't posted on a blog or some other location, to the archives. Twitter's search function only gives results from a certain time period anyway. The term "yesterday's newspaper" was never as relevant as it is today.

Theater companies are, of course, trying to exercise control of the situation. The authorized tweeters will most likely be hand-picked to provide the type of tweets the Globe used as examples from the Palm Bay Orchestra production of Madame Butterfly: “Cio-cio san is telling it like it is! #pbobutterfly’’  This is the type of thing that many theater companies might tweet themselves, some already do.

Some companies, like the Boston Ballet and the Huntington are taking a reasonable path, which mirrors the way many theater companies approached us bloggers "way back" in like 2005, or so.

I don't think we have too much to fear from glowing screens for now. Although I should say that I have already encountered several smartphone-sized incidents of the "indiglo effect" over the past year or so.  Now that fewer patrons are wearing watches,  a particularly long performance produces larger illuminations when a restless theatergoer needs to check the time.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Video From My Elusive Friend

Actually, that's me as the elusive Lord Somerville. The video was shot and edited by Brad Kelly. That's my voice as well.

We made a couple of these for the Somerville Community Access Television station.

It is made for the local audience so things like the subway shuttle buses being instituted for the weekend won't make much sense, unless you are trying to get to the Actors Shakespeare Production of Merry Wives of Windsor in Davis Square.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Guirgis Likens Production of his Play to a Minstrel Show

In case you haven't seen it, yet, playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis wrote an e-mail to the Hartford Courant about seeing the Hartford TheaterWorks production of his play: The Motherfucker With the Hat.

Guirgis has been making people aware that the casting process may have excluded Latinos from auditioning for characters that were specifically written to be Puerto Rican. Apparently the director had pretty much pre-cast the two lead roles with Caucasian actors he knew from New York University.

Guirgis's reaction to the production is, well...

The experience of being in the theater and watching two Caucasian actors pretending to be Latinos for an audience compromised entirely of Caucasian theater goers was disturbing and surreal to me. I felt like I was in a time warp. I honestly felt like I was witnessing something that I had only read about in history books(...)what I saw felt to me very nearly a minstrel show.

Read the whole Courant article here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

First Time I've Done Live TV -Local Access

My friend Brad Kelly produced a live, hour- long show for Somerville Channel 3 tonight.

My wife Amanda and I helped by writing many of the scripts and we had some funny actors from around Boston to help out.

That's Amanda as the Blonde anchor and I played a liberal pundit on a political cooking show.

It was the first time I had done a live television show. It was very interesting. We didn't have a lot of notice about it, so many of the scripts were made on the fly and we would strategically place them around set just in case.

It was a blast. It will rerun throughout the month and then will go online.