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Just Take Those Old Records Off the Shelf

It’s been 6 months already so the theatre blogs and the #2amt (2am Theatre) kids on Twitter are bashing around labeling of theatre again. It’s one of rashes that theatre bloggers seem to have that flare up pretty consistently. I’ve talked about this before here and there are links over at 2amtheatre.com and at The Next Stage and more if you search the #2amt tag on Twitter. It makes Don Hall’s head pound just to listen to us talk about it, which is it’s own reward but not why we do it.

Why do we do it?

Why do we talk about getting more people in to see our work, their work, anyone’s work? Even in those icky business clichés that drive all the true artists/punks to want to slit their digital writs?

Because we love this.
We love this out of all proportion.
We love this more than we really should.
At some point in our lives live performance hooked into us and never let go.

And we spend our free time creating it, talking about it, talking about talking about it, writing about talking about it, hanging out with other people who create it, write about it , talk about it, write about people talking about creating it…

My wife has two degrees in this and she would really like me to go back to being hooked on baseball sometimes.

And most people just don’t seem to care. They care more about jai alai than live theatre. This field has become a cliché on both ends of the spectrum (the garish Broadway musical and the warehouse performance artists) and those of us in between just can’t get people in the doors.

And we know that it’s because someone somewhere lost them, and that if we can get them in the door one more time we can keep them. That they will be as hooked on this as we are. But we messed up somewhere and lost them to something someone told them was newer and better. Frankly, we suck at language for a largely text based art form. Republicans never would have let this happen to their art form.

Even old and musty doesn’t need to be a terrible thing. The masks and Red Curtain can still be wonderful, and theatre in general is just as vital as it’s ever been. But we talk about it like half-drunk epileptic docents, and THAT is what this discussion is about.

We don’t have the words for what we do that make it easy for anyone else to understand why we love it, and the time for that ineffability being enough is long since passed.

Records, vinyl records, are an outdated medium that has no technical advantages over the technologies that followed it, it lacks portability, it lacks purity, and it lacks permanence.

And for a whole bunch of folks it is the only way to Really Listen to music because those imperfections lend a certain warmth of tone that perfect FLAC files and $20 ear buds just don’t capture.

But theatre makers manage to make analog sound like a thesis instead of a privilege and I’m going to keep mucking around in the language bin until I get the words right for what it is that I do.