Monday, October 17, 2005

For want of a context: shared terms and concepts

followspot@hotmail.com
October 17, 2005

I am bending my 50-word rule a little to share this excerpt from Jeffrey Jones “Thinking About Writing About Thinking About New Plays” found in the current October 2005 issue of American Theatre magazine. I found it relative not only to those who market theatre, but us critics as well.

"There was an audience that showed up to see a play (in the sense that everyone understands the term) and found something different — something that in fact was clearly not a play (though it stands in a clear and complex relationship to the sense in which everyone understands the term) — and for want of a context — the shared terms and concepts — found themselves baffled and alienated, hating the experience of being there and thus hating the 'play.'"

7 comments:

Follow Spot said...

Of course, he provides real-life examples and goes on to explain ways we might consider to counter this phenomenon, too ...

Queen Dee said...

What a great quote! Context is so very important when inviting an audience to participate in any way. Where can I find the rest of the piece?

Anonymous said...

I heard about this - and am curious to read the article. If I'm not mistaken he was talking about "Thom Pain" by Will Eno (who also wrote "The Flu Season"). Without knowing the show, I'm finding it difficult to contextualize his comments and make them really relevant to me or to here.
Darius

Queen Dee said...

Okay, I'm a dork - you put the info about the piece in the original post...never mind...
D

Neal said...

Yes, I found this piece very interesting, and in line with a lot that has been on my mind lately. In fact, I was just having a late afternoon conversation with someone downtown last Friday, and we talked at length about this and similar issues (I don't think I brought up this article at the time, but my end of the conversation was certainly informed by it). It seems I've been having this kind of conversation a lot lately (and not just in Portland). I hope that's a good thing...

Follow Spot said...

Without hazarding a guess as to why, the recently released Theatre Facts 2004 (TCG) (PDF) says:

Overall attendance rose steadily from 2000 to 2002 but slipped in 2003 and again in 2004 to reach its lowest level of the five years.

For the arts admin wonks among us, this report is fascinating. Check it out, as well as the accompanying narrative, in Theatre Communication Group's American Theatre magazine.

You can read both narrative and report online for free.

Follow Spot said...

Actually, the accompanying narrative goes into great interpretive detail -- might be better to read that prior to the report itself.

Or, if you're not an arts admin wonk, just the narrative might do fine.