By Megan Mooney
So, apparently the hot topic of the day (um, in the theatre blogging community, which is, admittedly, a pretty small percentage of the population) seems to be musing about what topics should be covered by theatre blogs.
My foray into the discussion came from Theatre is Territory, with the piece Content conundrum. Basically it gives an overview of the discussions that have been happening and asks "Is there not enough content about the actual content of theatre online?"
Ahem….I think that to actually have a discussion on content that it would be necessary for people to actually see some plays.
Funny, the number of people I talk to who haven’t seen jack and yet are all in the theatre community.
I’m not sure why I liked it so much, but I did. I guess partially because it kind of speaks to me about the fact that, it doesn’t matter what we write about, it’s not going to be perfect for everyone. Don’t worry, I’m not on drugs, I don’t think that’s what he’s trying to say, it just, for some reason, is what it triggered for me.
Unfortunately the comments seem to be dominated by someone who is not willing to identify themselves generally just shitting on things. S/he takes MK Piatkowski (from One Big Umbrella) to task over liking Drawer Boy, but does it in a clearly antagonistic way. A way that feels clearly like attacking. Which is a shame, because for me, that kind of makes it completely invalidate Anon’s point, which may, or may not, have been an interesting one – but, since it was presented in such and assholian way, it kind of got lost amongst the thoughts of ‘oh come on, seriously, isn’t attacking tiresome’ it’s hard to know. This is, of course, the danger of the internet. There are people who seem to think that attacking someone’s views instead of disagreeing with them is the same as useful discourse. It really isn’t, but, you know, that’s the internet for you…
Anyway, enough of that, I’m sure you’re all dying to know what I think about this, so here goes.
Honestly, I kind of have an unpopular view that there is no rule about what we should or should not do when it comes to the arts, including writing about the arts.
I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about theatre and he asked "what does theatre have to do". I said, theatre doesn’t have to do anything. It can do whatever it wants. It can be a light fluffy thing that makes no mark on people, but provides them with fun distraction for a period of time, or it can be some intense thing that makes people re-evaluate their life. Both are valid. He didn’t agree. Which is fair, and he made some good points about theatre should offer the audience something they can’t get anywhere but from a piece of theatre. I respect his opinion, and I certainly have no need to try and change his opinion, but I suspect it’s a far more common opinion than mine.
So, if that’s how I feel about actual theatre, I suspect you can imagine what I feel about theatre writing. The content of theatre writing is entirely up to the author. There is no "people should be writing about…", there’s just "people are writing about…" There is certainly room for people to say that they wish there was more writing about content, and there sure as hell is room for those people to take up (figurative) pen and talk about content, and, there is also room for an author to read that comment and decide they would like to write more on content because it’s what their audience wants. But when it comes down to the should or should nots, then I get a bit antsy.
Now, there are of course exceptions to this rule. Basically the same exceptions that rule freedom of speech. If what you feel like writing is hateful or meant to incite violence, then yeah, that’s a should not. Also, if you’re say, writing a text book, maybe there are some ‘shoulds’ in there. But if you’re just noodling away at your blog, well, it’s YOUR blog and you can write whatever you damn well please. If it’s trends, content, reviews, process exploration, what you bought at the grocery store last night, it doesn’t matter, it’s all valid. If people aren’t interested, they just won’t read it. Simple as that.
So, there is my stance on it. It might sound like standing on the fence because I’m not saying whether it should or should not be a certain way, but I’m pretty passionate about this particular fence-sitting position.