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Church

And the preacher he kept preaching
Long is the struggle, hard the fight

GIVENS

This church idea is something I’m into exploring, as well … so, how do we make our audiences as devoted as the weekly church-going crowd?
Rebecca – GreyZelda Land

… church to me means spiritual experiences felt through the institutionalization of dogma, and for me theater shouldn’t be about institutionalization or dogma… it should be about rediscovering individuality and self-generated energy (two of the values that were bandied about elsewhere yesterday), and the community is secondary to that experience – though still a big part of the theatrical experience. What do you think?
Nick Keenan  – Theatre for the Future

I hereby incorporate by reference the rest of my blog.


First let me say that, unlike George Hunka, I found yesterday heartening. Is homework for a hundred by-nature-navel-gazers a somewhat daunting idea? Sure. But as a breed we really need to whittle down our conception of why We do this and why They should care to something more concrete than "it is art". Attempting to do so in parallel with one another is a useful exercise.

If you’ve been reading me at all, and someone beside the Google spiders has been (I’m the #1 hit for the Google search "Racist Snowflake"!), I don’t need to bold anything in the quotes taken from comments on yesterdays entry. They bold themselves. I will highlight them for new kids though, and there are punch and cookies over by the counter.

I am all about the audience.  To a fault. I love messing with them. I love challenging their expectations. I LOVE making them feel things, especially things they’d rather not.

On the practitioners’ side I am all about community.

Neither is a secondary concern for me.

Nick, I disagree with your assertion that theatre  "should be about rediscovering individuality and self-generated energy". To my thinking everything in American culture is geared toward the discovery of individual and  honestly that’s why theatre as secular church works as a metaphor for me.

Churches work because they are moral collectives. Where ever two or more are gathered in the name of something there is that Energy.

Every theatre company that has been truly and deeply successful on whatever level they are shooting for has a strict mission, and a group of people who adhere to it. They are not necessarily a tribe in the way Scott Walters has been discussing, but they are a collective, and are structured very similarly to a church.

They have a  a head (strong or weak as they choose), a dedicated inner circle, and a more fluid outer circle that collectively adheres to a code. Is that dogmatic? Depends on the group honestly. But dogma isn’t bad. Rigidity is bad, and they aren’t the same thing.

And that Rebecca is how you keep them coming in.

Why do people keep going to McDonalds? Familiarity.
They know what they’re getting. (and it’s addictive!)

If you want to breed a congregation you have to give them quality, CONSISTANT product at a great price.

And then you make it belong to them. The Recessional matters.

There is a Snob gap in theatre that needs to be overcome, and the way to bridge that elitist chasm is to allow your audience to explore their ideas about the show with you.

I know you’re tired. I know you want to get to the bar and unwind. I know that the last thing you want to do is examine the ideas that you have been wallowing in for the last 6 weeks.

But they are the point.

And this their one shot to grapple with these ideas in this moment.

That is a moment that makes theatre completely separate from other arts.

Don’t rob them of it.

Now church it started right on time
Just like it does without a doubt
And everything was all just fine
Except when it came time to let us out
You know the preacher he kept preaching
He told us I have one more thing to say
Children before you think of leaving
You better think about the Judgment Day

~Lyle Lovett – Church

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