Friday, December 09, 2005

Cold Fusion Solved!

Oh ... crap. I just forgot. Had the frickin' formula here somewhere. Sorry, that's my way of saying I was on the verge of a really great post and then lost the whole thing like a fart in the ether. Does someone have "A Fart In The Ether" as a blog title yet? I'm sure it's somewhere.

The cold fusion reference comes in as my cover story because I just spent a couple hours pouring over a handful of well-written theatre blogs and the debate du jour seems to be about postmodernism, minimalism, the utility of theatre, etc. And wrangling with avowed postmodernists over the validity of their methods (to say nothing of the larger philosophy) feels rather like trying to discover cold fusion using an eighth-grade science book, two bunson burners, a dead cow heart, and one pair of unsterilized latex gloves. Only less exciting.

Anyway, those of you who've tracked the conversation back to this summer can probably guess my position on all this. But I wanted to share these gentlemen with the rest of you because they're really keeping me on my toes. In a fit of giddy sensory-overload I fear I blathered my way to embarrassment with a few hasty posts -- a crime I've dodged on this sight by not posting so much anymore. But I want to get back into the fray and these guys remind me how much I have to learn and how much I already love talking about this stuff. Please meet Steve, Scott, George, and Matt.
  1. Steven Oxman. Theatre Matters. You can't post comments on this blog, but that's just as well. Steve is a television and theatre critic for Variety, but he's also done time at the LA Times and has first-person accounts of other hefty critics out there in NYC. He puts out at least one well-wrought essay a day and also works as a primary source dashboard for print articles on theatre. He's also generously linked over to and commented on other bloggers like ...
  2. George Hunka. Superfluities. Where Theatre Matters reads like the kid-brother hobby channel version of an already-established critic, Superfluities is more blogocentric. I don't mean that disparagingly; George has very organized, far-reaching, and well-read web of links to the larger theatre blogging community and he marshalls the traffic of ideas pretty well. He's also a critic for and appears to have either read everything in the world or made honest effort to try. I don't jive with every conclusion he comes to, but as an e-scholar he's great.
  3. Scott Walters. Theatre Ideas. Scott is a professor and director in Asheville, NC. He volleys back and forth with the above-mentioned blogs, but goes the extra step by offering a synthesis to issues the other blogs skitter around. Plus he writes posts with titles like: "How to Help the Audience, Part Two" and "Synthesis" -- to give you some idea of what he's up to. Scott takes what George and Steve are chewing on and teases out some pretty exciting conclusions.
  4. Matt J. Theatre Conversation and Political Frustration. Matt is a grad student in Long Island. No, that's not why he's #4 here. Like Scott, Matt is eager to resolve or transcend issues generated by the other guys. His post "On the Postmodern Critique" triggered the latest round of internal links and comments. He's got the refreshing perspective of someone who's a) frustrated with what he's learned and b) eager to find an answer through informed conversation. Hence the title.
From what I can tell, the most successful blogs these days are about 36% original content, 11% personal journaling, and 53% creative hyperlinking. It seems the goal is to balance between proprietary pith and active redirection to some place more interesting. People are choosing blogs the way they might choose morning radio personalities: Can you give me a brief buffet-table survey of the five most link-worthy things in the universe every other hour? Can you add a delicious coating of vitamin snark to make it all go down easier? Well, these guys are a great place to start if you're looking for deeper theatre conversation. Only they're not just spitting out quotable nuggets, they're actually trying to advance a larger discussion. And all of them ... I mean all of them ... spell much better than I do.

Anyone heard from Trillum lately? Well ... whomever and wherever you are: I thought of you a lot as I jockeyed around these other blogs.


Anonymous said...

Never stopped religiously reading your blog as well as your posts on Superfluities..and truly, Karl Skywalker, put down your light sabre and fear not the dark side of post-modernism. Salvation is often found at the bottom of the abyss. And while it’s refreshing and astounding that some contemporary writers can show us useful ways out of the darkness; that in no way detracts from those playwrights who take us down into the darkest recesses of consciousness and offer no one-size-fits-all trail back to the light. (If I knew how to hyperlink to your discussion on Superfluities….I would do so, was a great set of verbal jousting!) Sometimes the message that will transform the soul is so individualized that only the one hearing the play can form that message for himself – and the playwright’s shamanistic duty is as ferry-man to the dark place where the listener will struggle with his conscience. Alone.

My Goodness, all this gnashing of teeth over nomenclature. When Ibsen pushed Nora out the marital door, when Sheckner pushed naked actors into the streets of New York, when Pinter pushed pauses to the limit….I’m sure none of them worried about what “ism” might be coined as a result of their experiments. Do you really feel that the theorists’ obsession with categorizing creative endeavors helps the individual artist in a meaningful way with their daily struggle to corral their demons and angels? --Trillum

Scott Walters said...

Thank you so much for the plug for "Theatre Ideas." It means a lot that you would even mention it. I've been a bit slow with new material of late as the semester grinds to a conclusion. Perhaps my brain will come alive again soon. Until then, I will continue reading your fine blog.

Scott Walters