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.