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Subtext to Text

By Nick Fracaro at 1:41 pm on Monday, May 26, 2008

I have noticed that I am beginning to develop a new relationship to blogging. I am finding my comment writing in others’ blogs just as challenging, if not more so, than the writing of my own posts.

I have taken partial lead on this from Mac Rogers. The SlowLearner is also slow on blog postings but he is often present in comment sections of the theatrosphere with his pointed questions.

I have been thinking of the comment sections of the theatrosphere as the subtext to the hyperlink exchange of blog posts.

Subtext can be a way for the creator of a work to relay ideals, principles, controversial relationships or political statements without alienating viewers or readers who may balk at the ideas or even reject the work.”

For some time now, I have been exploring the theatrosphere as a “fictive reality” that contains both a Rat Sass persona and the “real” nick, as much as the real Nick can actually present himself. In the comment sections of other blogs, my persona shifts slightly, like a chameleon altering skin color to blend into its environment.

So I find myself writing and editing my comments more deliberately in belief that the “real” conversation of the theatrosphere is being propelled and directed from there.

The below is my recent comment at Angry White Guy that feels like a bookend to a long conversation thread I have been participating in, and often instigating or reviving, through various comment sections. It began at Don Hall’s review of a Greyzelda production, traveled over to Praxis, then over to Trailing Spouse Blues, back to the big brawl at Don’s again, then a post at Rat Sass, and then another one. If you look at the dates of these posts and comments you will discover that this conversation has been going on for over a month now. I admire and appreciate both Rebecca and Don for their stamina. It must have been emotionally trying to be constantly thrown into the defensive as the subjects of this important discussion.

Punk Ethos and Writing

…but in the world of punk, if it sucked, you got punched in the face or had a beer bottle thrown at you. In this FaceBook Nation of ours, the call for more civility and more constructive approaches is exactly the opposite of a punk ethos.

Exactomundo. And the punk zines were part and parcel of that ethos which led the way to the zine scene of ‘80’s with its aggressive and belligerent style of writing. The zine movement segued into the argumentative writing and discussion found on Internet listservs of the ‘90’s. All of which leads to the blogosphere. What people call “snark” today is actually the nth generational manifestation of this alternative zine writing style.

Those bloggers calling for more civil or politically correct talk are often Johnnies Come Lately to writing; their blog is their first attempt to actually write anything other than their very proper high school or college papers. But writing school papers was work. So instead of writing, blogging has become more like transcribed talk. This discourse style believes that just by keeping its schoolboy etiquette, its patter will somehow be elevated into something of value. But there is a vast difference between spewing out one’s opinions and honing one’s thoughts into ideas that could impact on the mindset of a reader. So the Snarkless Marks’ antagonism to an uncivil tone is also their envy of any crafted or edited writing.

Blog posts/comments are as public as our art is, but generally the writing is treated cavalierly…“throwing in my two-cents” on this or that “Question of the Day.” Such pandering to one another for innocuous comments effectively lowers the common denominator of exchange and is infinitely more destructive than any “discussion tone.” So it’s no wonder that anytime anyone actually attempts to write in the theatrosphere with deliberation to create effect (as most of us actually attempt to do with our art) an episode of Sturm und Drang is likely to develop among the chit-chatters.

The relationships in these social networks in FaceBookNation (including the theatrosphere) are based on weak ties when compared to peer production. We give no quarter when practicing our art, demanding full passion and commitment from collaborators. If we practiced blogging with just a fraction of the ardent assurance we practice theatre, every day we would rehearse yesterday’s text, honing out our dishonesties and trivialities, not our incivilities.

Filed under: Personal,Theatre and Culture19 Comments »

Chicago Judge Issues Gag Order on Theatre Bloggers

By Nick Fracaro at 7:49 pm on Friday, May 16, 2008

Numerous verbal fisticuffs have erupted recently in the theatrosphere. The discussion surrounding Don Hall’s review of Greyzelda Theatre’s production has been particularly volatile.

It is unclear how this gag order from a Cook County judge in Chicago will be enforceable on bloggers as far away as Australia but just its existence adds a chilling effect on future discourse in the theatrosphere.

Chicago bloggers directly under the jurisdiction of the court order include Devilvet, GreyZelda, Paul Rekk, Don Hall, Trailing Spouse Blues, Nick Keenan, and Jay Raskolnikov.

I’m not sure how this court order really effects me or other bloggers in the rest of the theatrosphere, but until the legal ramifications are fully explored, it is probably best all theatre bloggers cease posting or commenting directly on this subject.

Read the full article of this case “He said; She said: A Dialogue That Never Happened” and the recovered ghost comments in the Financial Times.

Filed under: Theatre and Culture9 Comments »

The Coming PR Clique Wars and the New Censorship

By Nick Fracaro at 4:52 pm on Monday, May 12, 2008

murderer

Dramatists Guild War poster circa May 2008. 40 x 29.

A drowning playwright points accusingly. This is one of a large group of posters, warning against vicious and personal reviews of regional theatre productions, many of which are being sunk by critics before achieving their Broadway runs. These types of posters are also being displayed in regional theatre lobbies, theatre audience bars and restaurants-wherever there is danger of critics, reviewers, or other saboteurs attempting to initiate dramaturgical discussions before a production is ready for prime time.

sinking ship

Actors Equity War poster circa May 2008. 28 x 22.

A group of injured and shocked actors in a life boat rowing away from their critically savaged production. Central to maintaining a deluded sense of self worth and a duplicitous social facade of camaraderie, the PR Cliques’ broadcasts attempt to limit talk about productions in both the public and private arenas of American life, especially at theatre barbeques. The graphic designs of these “loose talk” posters are usually strong and eye catching using bright colors for impact.

rosie the riveter

Girl Bloggers Guild War poster circa May 2008. 40 x 29.

Attempts by progressive members of certain PR Cliques to bring women bloggers into the testosterone charged theatrosphere to “civilize” the conversation met with only limited success. Turns out that women often can be bigger “fuckwits” than men.

careless talk

The PR Clique Wise Guise Nicks War poster circa May 2008. 40 x 29.

Careless Talk, Uncivil Talk, Anonymous talk, Preview Review Talk, Rehearsal Talk, the NPAC talk before the NPAC talk, and the Mike Daisey TalksAfter™ Mike Daisey talks. Talk, talk, who’s got the talk in our new FaceBookNation?

Elegy (with Advertisement) Struggling to Find Its Hero

It was a century in which we touched ourselves in mirrors
over and over. It was a decade of fast yet permanent
memories. The kaleidoscope of pain

some inflicted on others seemed inexhaustible
as the positions of sex, a term
whose meaning is as hybridized as the latest orchid. Terrorism

had reached a new peak, and we gradually
didn’t care which airline we got on, as long as the pilot
was sober, and the stash of pretzels, beer, and soft drinks

remained intact. On TV, a teenage idol has just crawled, dripping wet,
from the top of a giant Pepsi can, or maybe I imagined it,
flicking through channels where the panoply

of reality shows has begun to exorcise
the very notion of reality, for both the scrutinized actor
and the debilitated viewer who becomes confused and often reaches

into the pastel screen for his glass, while down Broadway
sirens provide a kind of glamorous chorus
for this script of history where everything is so neatly measured

in miles, pounds, or megabits. How nice it would be
to drowse in the immeasurable. How nice
it would be to escape.

                                    And there’s a wobbly marble bench
                                           beneath an out-of-focus tree on the Web
                                                I like to occasion my body with.

How brief we’ve become in our speed
I think. How fast the eternal.
How desperately

we need a clearing, a place
beyond, but not necessarily
of nature. And the rain

was so deep the entire forest smelled of stone, then the sun
broke, burying the long shadows
in gold.
And the wounded

king woke in a book long since closed, and the princess
came to in a bed so large
she could never leave. How desperately

we need a new legend, one with a hero, tired
though he may be. One who has used
business to give up

business, one who has bought
with his heart what we
sold with ours.

Filed under: Theatre and Culture11 Comments »