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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 »

11 Comments

1
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Comment by Alison Croggon

May 13, 2008 @ 12:45 am

Love the posters. Some American bloggers sure spend a lot of time talking about talking.

2
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Comment by Troubador

May 13, 2008 @ 5:53 am

Alison, you should be in bed resting!

(Or am I you?)

3
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Comment by nick

May 13, 2008 @ 8:15 am

Troubador, you should be in bed with her. Oh, that’s right, you already are.

I kid the Aussies.

Alison, the posters I found thru a google search seeking the origin of the phrase “loose lips sink ships.” And our Founding Fathers fought duels and killed one another over the proper or honorable way to address one another. So in nurture (propaganda from the Office of War Information) and nature, the American character becomes constructed.

http://www.nh.gov/nhsl/ww2/loose.html

LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS

“Concerns about national security intensify during wartime. With German and Japanese submarines patrolling off U.S. coasts, great emphasis was placed on educating servicemen and civilians about the need for secrecy concerning military matters, especially troop movements. Central to maintaining national security was the Office of War Information’s drive to limit talk about the war in both the public and private arenas of American life. Silence meant security. The graphic designs of this “loose talk” on the home front posters were usually strong and eye catching using bright colors for impact. In no other series of WWII posters was the potential for loss of human life portrayed as such a recurring theme.”

4
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Comment by George Hunka

May 13, 2008 @ 12:19 pm

Perhaps they’re talking about talking because they’ve run out of things to talk about. An ironic comment on the content of their talk, given that people have been talking about theatre for two millenia.

Curious that I post this here — which was one of the first theatre blogs, really; Nick’s been involved in this medium and its relation to theatre since the RAT conference. And yet, and yet, how it’s all devolved to numbers. 600 Web page hits in a day (Theatre Ideas); 53 comments to a post (Angry White Guy). Though even numbers don’t tell the whole story, since many of these hits and comments seem to originate in the same 10 or 15 people, who frequently check back to see what new abuse they’ve opened themselves to, and to respond just as abusively. It adds up.

Mine don’t. But that’s all right. Whatever the Organum might be (theory, or pedanticism, or self-promotion, or poem, which is how I think of it most of the time), a few people appreciate it. As they did the reviews, for a while. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. Some even say they’re inspired by what I write, sometimes. That surprises me most. At any rate, it’s not about the numbers. It’s the quality of the readers and the quality of the words that count most.

5
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Comment by Scott Walters

May 13, 2008 @ 3:08 pm

Ah, George — I thought I sensed hot air. And thanks for the response to my email in response to your farewell wish on my blog. Filed under “Be Careful What You Wish For”: George was the one who persuaded me to start Theatre Ideas. Now, whenever my blog is mentioned on his, it is never by name, nor is my own name ever uttered. At my age, any reminder of junior high school is appreciated.

And how odd to find BOTH George and Alison commenting at the same time.

I do think that there are plenty of ideas in the theatrosphere, including both of your blogs, George and Alison, and that includes talking about talk — in other words, talking about how to have a community. But the low regard, even disdain, with which you hold your colleagues fails to add to the community. We all inspire somebody, George, so please unpuff your chest, and please don’t trot out unpopularity as a badge of superiority. Your ideas stand on their own. They don’t inspire me, but I would never discount their intelligence or their worth, which I’m sorry to say is more than you can say.

Nick — I must confess to finding your post very clever, but also finding it a little baffling. I’m not a visual person, and often don’t pickup irony, so it is probably my fault — but I was wondering whose ox, if any, you are goring with this particular post. I need to know if I am supposed to get “deeply offended” or not. Just cue me — I like to play my role, especially now that I don’t have any monologues anymore! 😉

6
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Comment by George Hunka

May 13, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

I don’t get it, Scott. Maybe it’s all this hot air that’s puffing my chest out, but it’s true: I don’t see this as a discussion about how to have a community. And what I say is true. I’m surprised by the reaction my posts sometimes get, because I know I may be prone to obscurity at times. I’ve never thought of unpopularity as a sign of superiority, only that I expect small audiences, for both the theatre and the theory — not because it’s better or worse, but different from the mainstream.

If I said good luck to you, I meant good luck to you. But you don’t take it as that; instead it offers you a new opportunity to engage in namecalling (“hot air,” a “reminder of junior high school,” the “low disdain” with which I hold my colleagues). If I don’t link to you and your blog, you’re right — your ideas too stand on their own, and I have nothing to say to them. But to complain that I don’t link to your blog from my own (and I did mention you by name at Superfluities Redux yesterday, by the way), or perhaps that I didn’t name you when I linked to a comment by someone else at your blog in a recent Guardian piece, is baffling.

So far as discounting intelligence or worth of anyone else’s opinion — well, Scott, you’re the one who characterized my post at the Guardian blog as “nonsense.” I responded to the ideas you set forth there as best and as evenly as I could. And I don’t believe I called them “nonsense” at all.

7
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Comment by George Hunka

May 13, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

And yes, I’m thankful for the readers I do have, and their work — when I know it — inspires me as well.

8
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Comment by Devilvet

May 13, 2008 @ 11:41 pm

@Nick …I love the posters…awesome connect.

9
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Comment by Scott Walters

May 14, 2008 @ 8:16 am

George — What prompts such snittiness on my part are dismissive comments like: “Perhaps they’re talking about talking because they’ve run out of things to talk about. An ironic comment on the content of their talk, given that people have been talking about theatre for two millenia.” Your tendency is to dismiss through literate eye-rolling that implies that only your interests are worthwhile.

I remember writing “nonsense,” and I don’t remember why, except that as usual I was finding you dismissive. I will probably not check to find out how my name was finally mentioned on your blog — I am certain that it was an insult. But the few times when my attention has been drawn your way because you have commented on something I was writing, I found myself referred to as things like “another blogger” or “some other blog,” even if you supplied a link. I found it puzzling, disheartening, and vaguely insulting.

We have very, very different theatrical values, and generally speaking either one of us see it as necessary to attack those ideas. Let a thousand flowers bloom, right? Your list of heroes is my list of villains, and vice versa. Oh well. But when you dismiss a discussion as being empty simply because it is about something you care nothing about — well, that makes me cranky.

10
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Comment by nick

May 14, 2008 @ 9:32 am

Reader v. Audience v. Community. Although we most often will use the terms synonymously.

I once had a blog roll but gave up on it. The decisions on inclusion/exclusion were too much of a conundrum. Most problematical was trying to discern how this blog roll would function as a representation of what I consider or aspire toward being my ReaderAudienceCommunity.

Finding community is a lifelong pilgrimage. Fellow travelers split off on different routes, even as new travelers join. Often passages narrow and one needs to walk alone.

11
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Comment by Don Hall

May 14, 2008 @ 2:03 pm

My grandpa (who was in Patton’s Army in WWII) used to to say “If you aren’t pissing someone off, well, you’re just not making any difference at all.”

My proclivities direct me away from bloodless debate and toward a more robust style of discourse. Where, George, you read a lack of content because of…well…whatever it is that turns you off from the level of back and forth, others see worthy content peppered with a healthy sense of combat.

See. I can write a comment without calling anyone a name or using the word “fuck” – oh shit. Maybe not.

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