The People Have Spoken
Before the masterful product launch of the Sightlines blog, I emailed a select few acquaintances to ask what they'd like to see in a theater blog. (They've now had to suffer my Marian Seldes joke twice. Apologies. Expecially to Marian.) Some of their instructive responses follow. Further calls-to-arms welcome.
An Artistic Director: I savor (and there is some of this starting up in the excellent blogs that have emerged recently) more bold, long-form writing-- that there is increasingly less and less space for in the print media with ever-growing advertising limiting critics' word counts. There is massive demand for innovative, informed, chatty writing looking at trends, the season as a whole, with profiles, features, production casebooks.... that kind of thing.
The blog is also a terrific forum for traversing various strata of the theatre, and this is something that doesn't really exist now. "Downtown" theatre: the artists themselves and the writing about them often feels shackled by its own limits. How about posting a podcast of an Edward Albee interview alongside one with Young Jean Lee? or a feature on what's going on at the Collapsable Hole next to Lincoln Center's upcoming season? or on a new Japanese festival coming to town, or the Big Dance Theatre show touring Europe.
A Director: The biggest missing conversation for me, right now is across the uptown/downtown divide the balkanization of different kinds of theatre is much more extreme here than in london, say where "experimental" vs. "establishment" labels are porous and where non-mainstream artists are often quickly integrated into the establishment. If it were possible to foster a conversation that involved say, richard nelson and jim houghton and young jean lee and david adjmi all talking together about their experiences of theater, I think that would be stimulating and healthy and essential reading.
A Playwright: While I actually read a fair number of blogs every day, none of them are theatre blogs. Because I cannot bear the whining.
However: I am always up to discuss solutions. How can we discover/nurture new performance spaces? (Related question: are we willing to go to plays in Brooklyn, or not?) How can we improve the public discourse about theatre? (If I had world and time enough, I would gather a citywide conference to address Jeff Jones's proposal in his American Theatre article "Thinking About Writing About Thinking About New Plays.")
I also fantasize about a useful exchange of ideas on the question, What do we want from our Off-Broadway institutions? And what institution is missing from the scene? If you could build one on the corner of Broadway of Houston --I'm thinking we'll just knock down the Adidas store -- what would go on inside it?
A Critic: I'd like to hear critics like yourself expand on a show since all we get these days is a few hundred words? id like reporting on downtown theater, like on subscription levels, missions, boards and businessy stuff. id like to hear about actors and shows that i dont know about. id like historical context of past shows, mini-histories of a revival. interviews with designers. pictures of cute people. funny headlines. gossip, for sure, especially about marian seldes's private parts. the odd joke. the odder the better.
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