After a year’s absence, I return to Rat Sass and the theatrosphere only in trepidation. With good reason I suppose. I have barely put my toe in the water and already Collide Flinch labels me mentally unstable. (It’s so tempting to get into pots and kettles, tits for tats, with theatrosphere’s reigning Queen of Hysteria, but I digress.)
The contrary persona of Rat Sass that I developed through my interactions in the theatroshpere may, just may, have run its course. By way of Bette Midler’s adjustment to the adage “to call a spade a spade,” the Rat Sass modus operandi has been “to call a spade a shovel.” Attempting to characterize theatre talk substance does not endear you to any colleagues you might critique unflatteringly, not matter what the style. But astute readers, or those peers who have a personal relationship with me, would never have read the Rat Sass narrator and its author as the same person. Those who have known my writing the longest realize that the persona has been in evolution at least since the “Mary Feast” days of the rat-list. I tried to transport some of the character of that legendary theatre list-serv into the developing blogosphere. But it didn’t take long for the theatrosphere to devolve into almost a mirror image of the dull beast that the rat-list had become when it closed at the end of 2004.
The rat-list met with irrelevancy as self-promotion gradually supplanted what once had been a raucous exchange of theatre ideas. Beyond the ideas, the rat-list also served as open forum for proposals of collaborative national and international projects and productions. But the old soldiers of this once vibrant exchange slowly faded away. Or more precisely perhaps, there was a generational shift. The rat-list and Rat Conference had grown into prominence with the blossoming of the Internet and Web in the mid- 90’s. The present day inheritors of that digital world are who I’ve been calling the Facebook Generation — a cross-generational peer group whose focus is “the representation” of the self. Contrast that with the Woodstock generation whose focus was centered on “the exploration” of the self.
I went into art as an explorer of the self and its habitat. But this gnostic search never really has a cultural counterpart, belonging always primarily to the Steppenwolf and its magic theater. I hope to discover that same less-traveled road again. It seems more “counter-culture” now than ever.