Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Vote for Comment of the Week

Votes in the comments.  Voting closes Friday lunchish.

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Is Theater Too Ideologically Exclusive?":

This article really struck home with me. I am an extremely liberal person who came from a very conservative upbringing. Whenever my family, parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, come to see my shows they're always confused and have a lot of questions after. There's also always a lot of comments such as "of course you're a little more liberal than we are...you're in theatre." And it's hard to invite them to my shows, especially the ones who are going to bring up hard topics to bring up at the dinner table over Thanksgiving because I know the show is going to make them uncomfortable. This is what really bothers me about Broadway. Nobody ever wants to go to New York and see the really and truly great work because they can just go see fun and happy Mama Mia and nobody will have to see anything that makes them uncomfortable. I think that we as artists who strive to understand all humans on this planet and give something that will mean something should aim to make ourselves as uncomfortable as possible as often as possible and if that means doing plays that oppose our own beliefs, that could be alright. I think it's also worth noting that often conservative theater-goers or theatre artists hide their conservative nature while in the theatre world because they know that their opinion will not be popular.
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Is Theater Too Ideologically Exclusive?":
This article was difficult for me to read, because I had to re-evaluate my own feelings and positions. Like many theatre people, I tend to lean more liberal (ok, very liberal, but I try and keep an open mind) and I also feel strongly about the diversity of the theatrical experience. Yet, if I saw a show which went against one of my core moral beliefs, I’m not sure I could be objective enough to appreciate it. Sure, right now I could tell you that inciting anger is another way of causing emotional change, and that is a valuable theatrical tool. But I’m not sure that in the moment I could condone the performance. And I don’t know for sure what I would think in that moment because I’ve not really had that experience yet. Sure, there have been a few shows where I’ve disagreed with the way things are portrayed, but I’ve never found myself in extreme moral opposition to what’s happening. I think this trend of morally complicit theatre is also very interesting, because while the majority of those who work in theatre are liberal, those who watch theatre are heavily divided. The majority of theatrical audiences are either other theatre people (typically liberal) or the Broadway stereotype of an old white couple (where there is a higher chance of non-liberal viewpoints). So then the question is, did theatre become liberal because at some point it’s audience wasn’t? Or has it been liberal all along, it’s just that the idea of liberal has changed. It’s a question I can’t answer, since I’m not well versed enough in historical social conventions, but it is an interesting point. This article has really made me evaluate my views, and I actually hope I can see a play where I’m morally offended at some point in my lifetime, if only for the personal experience. 
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "Is Theater Too Ideologically Exclusive?":
I haven’t ever really thought about theater in a conservative vs. liberal view like this before, but now that I am, as the writer states, I can’t really think of a well- known show that outwardly shows and supports politically conservative viewpoints. However, I can’t help but think that this might just be because theater isn’t necessarily the first place people look to when they are trying to incite political change. Most of the plays I can think of don’t have some kind of end game of convincing the audience to choose one side on some kind of political issue, but rather, are trying to convey a kind of more personal, heartfelt message about how we live our lives and how we relate to one another. While there are definitely plays that are vehemently liberal in their subject matter, I feel like that’s different from promoting a liberally- minded perspective. For example, I wouldn’t say that RENT was trying to convince people of the viability of the New York City bohemian lifestyle, but rather, to appreciate the value of friendships and relationships and to appreciate one another’s differences and see others complexly, an idea which I don’t feel is explicitly on one side of the political spectrum. On the same note, I don’t think that the orgy scene in Pippin promotes promiscuity. but, rather, is used as a plot point to show Pippin’s ascent into adulthood. Also, I feel like this article could be misleading in that it makes it seem that nothing is problematic in theatrical productions. Of course, there are definitely still plays being produced and written which, for one example, don’t feature women or people of color in a good light; should this be okay if the end game of the show is considered to be liberal? And to be honest, I’m okay with theater being, for the most part, a liberally minded and accepting place, because it’s an art form that is so inherently vulnerable and personal. If extreme conservatives complain that they feel as if they don’t have their place in theater, there are plenty of other places they could go to that would be more “accepting” of their perspectives.
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "Is Theater Too Ideologically Exclusive?":
This is something that I’ve thought a lot about, not necessarily as a perspective practitioner of theatre, but just as someone in society. At what point are we actually open to values other than our own, not just dismissing them as the thought of another person. When do we actually watch something that we strongly disagree with and break down why we disagree with it? And what impact do we have by being creative forces in the world?

I don’t know if there are any universal answers to these questions, in fact I believe there likely aren’t any, but that doesn’t mean an attempt isn’t worth while. In fact, the pursuit of these answers is a motivating force in my life, as I believe it is in many artists’ lives. To me, just the process of trying to keep an open mind, to try and view things in a different light, that is enough to justify holding an opinion and advocating for it. I’ve found that if you actively try to prove yourself wrong, than the only two paths that can play out are that you reinforce your values, or you drop values that were flawed. Because of this, I try and surround my self with a diverse group of people, with diverse opinions, and I have conversations.

I guess all art is is an attempt at a larger conversation. Yeah, it is true that the majority of the people who attend/create theatre are likely to have some biased to liberal values, but that doesn’t mean that their contribution to the conversation is invalid. If anything, it validates their contribution through the fact that they hold beliefs that are different than others, which means that someone who disagrees with their beliefs can state why, creating a new conversation.
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Is Theater Too Ideologically Exclusive?":
Although I always knew theater was heavily skewed towards the liberal side of politics I never knew how far that extent went. To find out there are virtual no conservative playwrights writing today is crazy to me . As someone who was raised by fairly conservative parents, my politics have often fallen on the slightly more conservative end of the spectrum, although I agree with many socially liberal ideas. Perhaps I'm similar to the conservatives mentioned at the bottom of the article, ones who are able to understand liberal perspectives well, but don't necessarily embody them. While I'm definitely not as conservative as my parents, and pretty much only agree with them on fiscal issues, I've often felt that I should never get involved in politics while at work in the theater. In fact when I first started pursuing theater I remember my dad explicitly telling me to never talk politics in fear that I'd be boxed out for having a more conservative perspective. While I think that assumption was a bit extreme I can't say I always feel open about sharing my politics even here at school. I personally enjoy the ideologies present in modern theater and think they stimulate important conversations, but I do see a lack of diversity when it comes to more conservative ideas being presented, which is a shortcoming to the community as only half of a conversation is ever often being adequately represented. I personally have no problem existing in a predominantly liberal field, because the liberal focused principles of fairness, and protection from harm are crucial to creating a safe environment for new work to shape and take form, but I'd love to see a more conservative perspective enter theater as well to not only help stimulate an enriching conversation across political philosophies, but also help other more reserved conservatives in the field not feel like they have to hide part of their political agenda as they go to work everyday. 


Ruth Pace has left a new comment on your post "Papal equipment takedown could take days, Stagehan...":
The pope once came to Philly
The city went rather silly.
With massive reverent crowds
Prayers most loud,
at least the weather wasn't too chilly.
But wait! Local 8 cries,
"We put on quite the show for you guys!"
With stages and equipment abounding,
Our tech's cries are resounding,
work lasts longer than you imply.
For you see, strike will take a bit.
On our asses, we do not sit.
For this task we have multiple crews,
(such good planning surely is not news)
We'll go with the night oil lit.
Now the workers of dear local 8,
they will be working 3-5 days straight.
And when they finish with the city,
All will praise IATSE,
For the wonders they work are great.
So great it was as "seen on TV."
(Said Michael Barnes, not me)
The pope I'm sure, is most glad.
If he weren't, t'would be bad,
Such a wonderful guy, you see.
Now this concludes my epic,
a tale of tech most poetic.
I hope to god that this counts,
if not, a war cry I'll sound,
and the rest of my comments will be linguistically eclectic.

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