Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pick a little, Talk a little

Arg! There is so much I would like to weigh in on that I can hardly sort it all out in my head. I’ve been enjoying the discussion over on the Barksdale Blog. Here is the only semi-coherent thought I can offer right now. One thing I’ve said for years is that, for better or worse, there are people who consider Broadway and touring shows “real theater” and everything else somehow second-class. I’ve had people ask me directly “…but are there any REAL shows coming to town.” This kind of ignorance is perpetually frustrating.

But when faced with ignorance, I think the only productive response is education. People need to be educated on the quality of what is available in Richmond. One way to do this that I touched on in my original year-end wrap up piece is by highlighting actors, by more distinctly “packaging” them as “stars.” There are certainly numerous issues that people could talk about regarding the RTCC Awards (I’m going with “the Artsies”) and Roy Proctor’s Phoebe awards, but the existence of them allows every theater company that casts Scott or Audra or Stephen Ryan or Debra Wagoner (etc. etc.) to use the adjective “award-winning” in any and all publicity about a production.

It goes beyond that: Henley Street could talk about “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” starring Jeff Cole – “fresh from his universally acclaimed portrayal of Hamlet.” This is borrowing marketing concepts from other disciplines: I didn’t know who Stephanie Meyer was but the phrase “author of the best-selling Twilight series” caught my eye years ago before the movie was even in development. “Gym Class Heroes” is a band, I’m told, though the only thing I know them from is the ubiquitous (for a while) single, “Cupid’s Chokehold.” Highlight the hits – that’s what people remember!

These are not revelatory ideas and yet I don’t see them in use very often and I get sent a lot of theater-related marketing (though certainly not stuff from every theater company in town – something else that befuddles me. I write about theater nearly every freakin day of my life – send me information, for heaven’s sake! Duh!)

OK, I had meant to talk about the Acts of Faith piece but now I’m worked up and have blown the few free minutes I had to ramble today. Stay tuned for more.

Oh, but first, here’s something interesting I received because I’m a student at University of Richmond but NOT because I write about theater:

Join The African Company, UR Department of Theatre and Dance, University Players, Collective Artists (UK) and The African American Repertory Theatre for a staged reading of Carlyle Brown's adaptation of Richard III, directed by UR's Charles Mike.

It will be performed on Friday, January 16 at 7:30PM in the Cousins Studio Theatre, Modlin Center for the Arts Building. The performance is free, but tickets are required. For more information, contact the Modlin Center Box Office at 289-8980.

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