WARNING: The opinions expressed below are DEFINITELY those of The CoLab Theatre Company! Learn more at www.colabtheatre.org!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Good Acting": A Definition. Sort of.

There is no such thing as good acting. I agree that this is a bold statement. Bear with me.

There is no such thing as good acting. There are ROLES that show us talent, drive, watchability, etc. There are actors who often succeed at the roles they are given. There are actors who get cast a lot. (Which is a different animal entirely.) However, there is no UNANIMOUS DEFINITION for good acting. We all see talent in different ways and places. Let's break it down. (For the purpose of this exercise I'll be using examples from film for accessibility. However, this post was sparked by stage actors.)

1. Good acting can be achieved by playing a role that takes effort but appears effortless. I believe that it's easier to put your finger on it when you know or have seen a lot of roles played by the actor/actress -- we know what they are like in real life and we don't recognize them at all in the role. Case in point: Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. The role of The Joker had to be physically exhausted with all of the ticks, the voice, etc. but he pulled it off without a hitch. He terrified and thrilled us all. And I would classify his performance in this role as good acting.

2. Similarly, when we recognize the actor, or have seen a lot of their work, we can recognize the types of roles they usually play and can identify when they are out of their comfort zone or IN a role that stretches them to their highest, most watchable potential. Good acting is something that we WANT to watch. Case in point: Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire. She's unhinged within the confines of the script's world yet in control of the role at the same time. She's gorgeous to watch on screen and pulls you through every step of the story.

3a. We wouldn't be able to recognize Vivien Leigh and Heath Ledger as "good actors" without the roles they are tackling. Therefore, while good acting is the combination of many factors, good writing often produces good acting. Good acting is hard to come by when a poor script is at large. And when we see good acting in a show with poor writing, it is even more astounding to watch. You can cast Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Kate Winslet, and Clint Eastwood in a film but if the script is uninteresting, their performances aren't going to be that noteworthy.

3b. How do we define "good writing?" For me, good writing consists of the following: the element of surprise (I don't want to know how the play ends on page one. I want to watch a chain of events), characters who definitively WANT something, REVEALS that we infer not ones that are spelled out for us, necessary dialogue (aka if the conversation isn't relevant to moving the plot again - get it out of there), and appropriate length for the subject matter/plot.

There are many other ways "good acting" can occur, but I think you're starting to get the point. What we refer to as good acting is NOT always consistent within an actor, it is the perfect storm of the right casting, the right writing, the right push, and the right watchability. I heard Michael Shannon speak in Feb. 2009 right after he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Revolutionary Road and he put it like this: winning an Oscar doesn't mean you're the best actor of all time. It's the recognition that in this particular role, you did justice to your craft and stood out among your peers. His remarks have stuck with me and therein lies my personal definition for good acting. It is a phenomenon that occurs with the right combination of elements. Not every good actor is set up for a good performance with every role he or she takes, but when it does occur, it is an incredible thing to watch.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. What is your definition of good acting?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stuff Theatre People Like: Artsy Independent Coffee Shops

This installment of Stuff Theatre People Like is for all of your writers out there. Sometimes the hardest thing about writing is getting started. Even though I know I have a task in front of me, I just can't sit down and do it in my apartment. (Especially if there's no deadline.) There's tv, the room I'm supposed to be cleaning, Facebook. But in a coffee shop, somehow it's easier to ignore those little chat windows. Or not. Which is fine, because I have the attention span of a small child, but anyways. At least there's no tv. Moving on.

I decided to start working on a couple of projects that I've had on the back burner and as I was driving around doing errands, I decided to stop in Taste in Newtonville. It's a cute little place with table service, gorgeous cappucinos (they're sooo pretty. and tasty too. but really pretty), and the best lemon poppyseed muffin I've ever had. There was no need for headphones (which saves my computer battery!) because the staff makes a great playlist to set the mood - everything from the Beatles to Phoenix to Foo Fighters. It was chill, quaint and made me feel better about spending money on coffee than I do at Starbucks. (Plus there was free wi-fi. Holler.)

And the best part is, I ACTUALLY GOT WORK DONE. I'm reworking some scripts that I've started (GASP) and I'm helping a friend hash out the start to a screen play. It was nice to settle into my nook and do some work and I would highly recommend it to those who might be passing through the area looking for a place to do work. Regardless of whether you hit up taste or not, that's my weekend recommendation to all of you. Even if you're feeling stuck, a change of scenery might be what you need. Or a muffin. A delicious, delicious muffin. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Status Updates vs The Handshake

Over the last year-ish, since beginning to blog in earnest I have noticed a serious uptick in how much Boston-theatre-related information I am gathering through my social media outlets. And how much our blog has grown simply through the CoLab's presence on facebook (we have recently expanded to Twitter - follow us @colabtheatre). It is interesting to me how much my newsfeed has seemed to blow up with theatre related news, events, and anecdotes since January. And it makes me happy to see so many new and interesting things happening. But it makes me wonder how much momentum we are truly building and can we put our money where our status updates are?

Part of what made play. so exciting for us was the fact that it was promoted almost exclusively through virtual word-of-mouth. But it was also terrifying to rely completely on information we were gathering on-line. Just because someone clicks Attending on your facebook event doesn't actually mean they will show up and buy a ticket. For a lot of people it's a way to show support without actually having to back it up with an expenditure of time or money. The barrier of the internet makes it easy to skew numbers and levels of interest. Just becasue some one "likes" our link or retweets a blog post doesn't necessarily mean they are going to come see our shows, participate in a workshop, or donate to the cause.

We are truly grateful for (and I am ever impressed by) our on-line friends and followers. And sure there is a little surge of ego-boosting that runs through me when I meet someone in person for the first time and hear, oh yeah, I read your blog! And there is no doubt that I get most of my information on-line, so staying present and keeping ourselves moving forward through social media is one of the most effective ways to stay on people's minds.

But I feel like we are moving faster virtually than it is possible to do in real-life, thereby missing some of the essential steps. Networking isn't always my favorite thing to do, but when I can actually shake someone's hand and say hello, I'm Mary-Liz Murray, I'm a Co-Founding Artistic Director of The CoLab Theatre Company, what do you do? I know the impact is more likely to stick than flashing across a computer screen. The same is true when I run into friends and acquaintances and catch up on what they are doing. Personally,I am much more likely to go see a show if I commit to it verbally than virtually. If I am face to face with a friend or colleague and say, yes I'm coming to see you, not going is a much bigger deal to me. And so I wonder how true that is across a larger board, what does your physical presence and commitment mean that your virtual stamp doesn't?

I think businesses and organizations across the board are only starting to measure that. Lately there has been such a push to move everything online that I think the fallout from losing person to person contact has yet to be realized. There are other types of businesses where a bigger online presence makes more sense, and providing information and services online makes a huge impact. But theatre is about a live event, a symbiotic relationship between performers/directors/technicians and their audience. If an audience doesn't show up, does the play still happen? The actors may get up on stage and run the show, but if no one is watching it's completely irrelevant. So devaluing the in-person networking and feedback and conversation by simply putting a company's life, mission, and event online is a dangerous game.

I'm happy to be online. To have the CoLab be online. To read other theatre blogs and accept invitations to Facebook events. But if you see me out on a Friday night, come say hello, introduce yourself, tell me what you do, because that I will actually remember.

Commedia in Boston

A few weeks ago, I experienced my first ever live Commedia Del'Arte performance. The troupe, Teatro Dell Maschere has posted their performance on youtube, for your viewing pleasure! I LOVED this performance, and I encourage you all to check these guys out in the future.

If you don't know about this theatrical art form, read up on the wikipedia article. Every actor should at least know about this stuff.

The things I notice in this video: The freedom and sense of ease. The characters are over the top, and flamboyant. But they don't seem strained. The performances are at ease, but not lazy. there is a balance between strength/energy and grace/lightness. Each character is specific, and no one seems like they're "Trying too hard." This is what I'm talking about when I describe the difference between Naturalism and Realism. This is far more natural than half of the realistic performances I see. Good acting isn't about being "Realistic". It's about being "Real". As an acting teacher once said to me:

"I'm not asking you to act falsely. I'm asking you to act truthfully, but stretch the definition of what truth can mean."


Tony Clifton!

My life is just surreal sometimes... Case in point, here's a photo from last night in front of Deep Ellum in Allston...

He's performing at the Wilbur Tonight. He's actually quite a nice guy in real life...lulz!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

David Mamet For Kids!

I saw this in a bookstore today. I didn't have to inspect further, but yes, this is in fact THE David Mamet.

I'm not sure what the content of the book is, but it looks like a children's book... if so, this makes the man a playwright, director, "expert" on anti-semitism AND... and now an influence on our children.

Our straight talkin', hyper masculine, potty mouthed children.


Monday, October 18, 2010

What kind of actor am I?

Lately in my life there has been a lot of discussion about what makes a successful actor. How to become one, how to sustain being one, what does it mean to be one? And it's made me think a lot about the kind of actor I want to be, and the kind of life that will create for me.

There is no right way to be a theatre professional. There are definitely WRONG ways. But finding a "right" way to make your career as an actor, director, technician, administrator or any combination of those things is impossible. There are people who think they know. And there has been an entire industry built around rules and norms that are really fuzzy and broken more often than followed.

There is no rhyme or reason to success. But there is immense pressure to be "successful".

But what makes a successful actor?

Is it longevity - is doing one show every eighteen months and working as a cater waiter while auditioning for 20 years straight success?

Or fame - becoming a household name or a soap star or a frought druggie diva success?

Maybe it's consistency - working steadily and being paid a barely living wage to work on plays, films, commercials, industrials, and voice over work in exchange for holidays, family time, and a a social life to say the only thing I do is act?

{ See this clip from Dustin Hoffman's acceptance speech for the Acadamy Award he won for Kramer vs. Kramer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhDmNRQgKLM. It is one of the most eloquent and classy ways to put these sentiments into words ever. And I generally hate Oscar speeches.}

I would guess the answer is different for a lot of actors. And non-actors generally only think of fame as the acceptable answer. In general, I find, the metrics for measuring the successfulness of an actor, director, or other are very skewed.

For me being a successful actor is a lot of things. The most important thing is doing the kind of work I WANT to do. The kind of work I believe in. It's not a particular genre or type of role, but more about the process and the people I work with. The feeling of camaraderie and respect I get from being in a well run rehearsal and being allowed to explore, experiment, and build. But in my life I don't only want to be a successful actor. There is so much of theatre and creating that is important to me. And being able to mesh my acting career with the other kinds of directorial and administrative work I do is really important to me.

And there are many people out there that will tell me I can never be a successful actor if I don't give it 100% of my focus. If I'm not willing to sacrifice all of the other goals and roles in my life, I won't know success. But I won't accept that. Firstly because as long as I am working, as long as I stay involved, as long as there is theatre to be made, I will be successful. But also because my overarching goal in life isn't to be a successful actor. I want an acting career that is fulfilling, sure, but I also want a social life and a steady income (I like nice things and buying groceries, so shoot me). I want to travel and enjoy my family and read books and go camping and SEE plays and movies and go dancing or on a spur of the moment road trip. Being tied to making my entire existence about the pursuit of my next acting job won't help me to achieve any of that.

I admire the people who want the kind of acting success that only comes from sacrificing every other part of themselves. It's a dedication and motivation that is awe-inspiring (though sometimes a little....intense) but not something I possess. And the biggest thing I've learned so far is that that is OK. That I don't want to be a "give it everything in my being" kind of actor is a valid choice. That choosing a life full of relationships and experiences that INCLUDE but aren't exclusive to theatre and acting is just fine. And if that's what makes me happy, than why even question it?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Night Shenanigans

Hey All!

Just came across this event. It looks pretty awesome and right up the ally of you theatrical types out there. Check it.

These are the deets:

Time: October 17, 2010 from 6:30pm to 9pm
Location: Bella Luna & the Milky Way Lounge/The Brewery
Street: 284 Amory St. /The Brewery
City/Town: JP, MA 02130
Website or Map: http://www.milkywayjp.com
Phone: 617.524.3740
Organized By: Big Mouths of JP

The Theme: Transported

What is this thing?

A lot can happen going from point A to B, whether one is walking, crawling, traveling at top speeds in some metal box....you probably HAVE a story! Bring it.

Stories start at 7PM get there early for good seats

What is a story slam ?
Based on a poetry slam format and similar to American Idol, a story slam is a contest of words by known and undiscovered talent. massmouth posts a theme on it's website (www.massmouth.ning.com) and story slammers will sign up on the night to tell a 5-minute short story on the evening's theme and a lucky ten names will be drawn at random from a bag. Other audience members may feel moved to join in on a judging team. There will be one team of 5 judges who will throw out the high and low scores and average the 3 remaining. Only the highest score will be recorded. Listeners will be engaged in story improv games and other interactive entertainments between each 5 minute feature.

Each of the featured 5 minute stories is judged on how well it is told, how well it is constructed and how well it honors the time limit and relates to the theme. The 3 highest-scoring tellers are awarded prizes and an opportunity to perform at the "the big mouthoff" April 26th in Boston at the Copley Library. Prizes will be awarded at each slam. There is a $5.00 cover

Real stories and 5 minutes - 5 minutes means...5 minutes. You loose points if you use the 60 second grace period to wind up. Real stories have a beginning, middle and end. And they have a point. You are clear about why the story is important to you and why you want to tell it. People are expecting real life adventures. No retelling of literary works and if we discover that you have pirated someone's story - you will be disqualified from all competition and prizes. (copyright laws apply, besides, this it is storytelling NOT recitation). No poetry unless the poem is original,5 minutes long, and tells your personal story.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Great Performances

Quick today: Watch this video clip, at least the first half. What are your impressions? What makes this performance so much more engaging than most?

Comment away. I'll write a follow up next week. I know my answer, but I want to know yours first.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Taking Responsibility

While trolling facebook this afternoon I came across a link posted to a friends wall about a new book called 20Under40 about the trending in Arts Leadership and how it is shifting to younger and younger people.

Instantly I wanted to know more.

I clicked the link and spent some time going through the page and really started getting into the initiative and mission behind publishing this book.

It talks about getting ready for the generational shift happening nationwide in Arts Administration and how it's affecting programming, marketing, audience development, and fundraising. And that really hit home with me. Part of the reason I jumped on board this crazy-train (and trust me it is a CRAZY-TRAIN) of starting a theatre company with Kenny and Erika is because I want to be part of this kind of movement. To change the face of the arts and how they are perceived and appreciated. To make them accessible while producing work I love.

And as I continued to explore the website I really wanted to jump on this organizations bandwagon too. I like the way they are approaching getting their message across. And I'm about 2 minutes away from becoming an Ambassador! THEN I checked out the info on the Launch party for the book, assuming it would be in New York but curious about the details, and it is NOT in New York. IT IS HERE! In Boston! Not only are they reaching out to the newest generation of arts leaders but they are doing it here (and in Chicago)! They are using two of the most up and coming theatre cities to launch this "generational shift" How awesome is that?

I'm saving the date December 10, 2010 to attend the launch party. Who's coming with me?


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You say artist, I say person, let's call the whole thing off.

I have been silently watching the debate happening on the blog at the moment, interested to read the different points of view and formulating my own addition, which is as follows:

1.) I sometimes identify myself as artist.
2.) I sometimes identify myself as a theatre person.
3.) I sometimes identify myself as an actor. A director. An Administrator.
4.) I always identify myself as Mary-Liz.

I guess all this amounts to is that I identify and agree with the line in Kenny's second post "I'm really saying that we should always be people first and all other things secondary." I agree that there is sometimes a negative connotation associated with the term "theatre person" it can be derogatory or belittling. But it doesn't make it untrue. I also think there is a serious danger in being identified as an "artist". The "arts" and "artists" in our culture are often viewed as completely unrelatable to the general audience. They are seen as pretentious and elitist. Out of touch. (Exhibit A; http://artsdispatch.blogspot.com/2010/09/we-take-swing-at-idea-that-arts-are.html#more) And I don't think it's any of our goals to alienate people by describing what we do. Not that we shouldn't be proud to create work and identify it as art but we are also SO much more than that. We are entertainers. We are designers. We are technicians. We are performers. We are "talent". We are hired monkeys. We are perpetual students. We are professionals.

In different contexts, any one of these labels would describe exactly what we do. And that's awesome. That we can have one "job" or one "career" and be ALL of these different things. That's why I love being in theatre. That's what makes me Mary-Liz. Not being referred to by one moniker or other. Those things describe what I do. Not who I am.

In OTHER Theatre news...
These things are playing in Boston this week

Poe: A Fever Dream, 11:11 Theatre Company, The Factory Theatre
Interview, Heart and Dagger Productions, The Plaza Theatre @ Boston Center for the Arts
In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, Speakeasy Stage, Roberts Theatre @Boston Center for the Arts
Circle Mirror Transformation, Huntington Theatre Company, Wimberly Theatre @ Boston Center for the Arts
The Neofuturists Project, Independent Drama Society, this week @ The Democracy Center Cambridge
Enron, Zeitgeist Stage, The Plaza Black Box @ Boston Center for the Arts

Check it out and support our local entertainer.performer.artist.hired monkey.technician.people

Always - Mary-Liz

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stuff Theatre People Like: Well Executed Accents

When I'm not working on a show, I sometimes find it hard to muse up topics for my blog posst. However, in thinking about Kenny's blog post about "theatre people" I realized that there are things that "theatre people" appreciate differently that than non-theatre people. I'm reclaiming the phrase theatre people to categorize those in the industry: actors, directors, producers, etc. And while pondering this I came up with an idea for a recurring blog installment: Stuff Theatre People Like. (It's not quite as classy as stuffwhitepeoplelike.com but that's okay, those guys have been blogging for years. Haha.) Basically, when I find something I thing a particular branch of the theatre people tree would enjoy, I'll post it up here.

The first installment is for actors - it's about ACCENTS.

I'm going to level with you -- I'm terrible at accents. I took a course on dialects when I studied in London and I never really got the hang of any of them. (I'm also probably a bad actor when I tell you that I still don't fully understand the difference between an accent and a dialect.) We tried Scottish, Irish, High Status British, and Cockney. I really don't have an ear for them. I wish I did. (For the sake of The Town, I wish Blake Lively did too, but that's another story.) Having the ability to transition through different accents would help when it comes to my marketability. Even though I don't have that ability, I'm still interested in watching other actors handle the issue with ease.

I submit for your viewing pleasure, an episode of The Good Guys, a show that starts Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks. The show takes place is Dallas and in most episodes Bradley Whitford convincingly pulls off his Texan accent (at least I think so, but I've never been to Texas). HOWEVER, in this episode, he tries an Italian mobster accent on top of his Texan one. It's phenomenal to watch. Especially if you've seen him in other things (aka The West Wing) where he sports a New Englander's dialect. Anyways, watch it, enjoy it, respond to it.

As a THEATRE PERSON, Erika recommends Silvio's Way, Episode 1.8 of The Good Guys which airs on Friday nights at 9 pm on FOX and can also be found on hulu.com.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Theatre Artists It is!

Hello friends!

It seems my last post generated a bit of buzz, thus a quick follow up.

Cherubbino/Carmen writes:

I don't really want to be a "person who happens to make theatre". I think that is asking us to hide behind some veneer of "normalcy" and apologize for being Different which I, for one, am GLAD we are. Why don't we try being proud of our club and enticing the world rather than worrying about alienating it? That's how they got me ... after all, confidence is sexy.

I don't disagree with you here. I think my point is twofold:

1. We should be theatre artists. No one calls guitarists "a music person". They call him or her a "musician". A painter is a visual artist, not a "paint person." I'm certainly not advocating we try to be normal, either. Far from it. I'm saying we should stop selling ourselves like idiots. We don't all do it, but I think we should be vigilant about those moments in life when we use our identity, joking or not, as an excuse or apology for our behavior. I say own it. If you're an airhead, it's not because you're a "theatre person". It's because you're an airhead. Same with me. If my blog posts have typos and poor grammar, it's not because I'm a "theatre person". It's because I'm lazy and prone to rushing when behind schedule.

2. When I refer to "people who happen to make theatre", I'm really saying that we should always be people first and all other things secondary. I'm not saying we hide our identities, I just feel that often times we tend to forget what it is to live life and be human beings with each other. It's not exclusive to theatre. People of all professions do this. You find people who forget how to be human in all walks of life. Politics, teaching, service, law... Any hard working, life consuming profession has the potential to consume ourselves. I just think it's important to let ourselves just be people every once and a while. It's hard not being able to take off one's director hat when sitting in the audience, for example. I long to just enjoy a play without critiquing it. But oh well, such is life and quite frankly, that obsession probably helps me make better art so long as I'm self aware.

A.W. writes:

There are some interesting points in here. I also agree that I'd like to see more of a communal shift to thinking of theater as an inclusive art for more people.
But I also agree that I like to identify myself, as an actor, and as a theater artist, for several reasons. To me theater artist as a title feels as legitimate a title as I feel my work is.

I totally agree! Read above.

In conclusion, I have my answer to the question originally posed. We are theatre artists. And I for one will make a special effort to remove the phrase "Theatre People" from my lexicon. I would encourage you all to ask yourself what you think, and act accordingly.

And for the love of god, if you agree with me, please just don't be a jerk about it...::coughanonymouscough::


P.S. Confidence IS sexy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Professionalism From Start to Finish

Part of what makes actors nervous about the audition process is not knowing what to expect. We've all been on auditions with unclear directions. Unclear on what to bring. Unclear on what to prepare. Unclear on how long you'll stay. UNCLEAR ON WHERE TO FIND THE AUDITION ROOM. So we go to the audition, we feel our way through, emerge on the other side and wait. Wait to hear about callbacks, offerings of the role we wanted (or the role we didn't), or the "i'm sorry." And this is fine, it's part of the business.

But the worst type of waiting is waiting for communication that never comes.

And, unfortunately, that happens a lot. Some companies get back to you. Sometimes they never get back to you. And I get it, you're busy producing your show. But this is Boston, folks. As we've talked about many times, we are a tight knit community that grows and thrives on going the extra step. (I'm not talking about an extra mile, just ONE EXTRA STEP.) We're a growing arts community and as we've blogged about on many occasions, companies make names for themselves not only based on the quality of their shows, but based on how actor-friendly they are.

Last week, however, I had a very refreshing experience. I auditioned for Silence, GAN-ə-meed Theatre Project's winter production. From start to finish, the audition was a relaxing, pleasant experience that I would definitely do again. First, the director emailed all of the actors a location to meet to walk over to the audition location as it was a bit tricky to find. AKA: NO LOST ACTORS. Second, the director respected our time - those who had other commitments were seen first and those who didn't were seen in a timely manner and let go when they were finished reading. Third, and this is pretty much why I wrote this whole post, even though I didn't get the role, not only did the director get back to me within a week as she promised, SHE CALLED ME to thank me for my time. It took 30 minutes and one simple phone call to tell me that this company is classy and respectful and DEFINITELY a company I would audition for again. It FELT professional and isn't that what we are working towards? Running professional theatre companies? With every audition I go on, I pick up things about running The CoLab and this made an impact on me in a positive way. So thank you, GAN-ə-meed, and I look forward to auditioning for you in the future.

If you're interested in talking more with the GAN-ə-meed crew, check out their Women in Theatre Networking Night at The Burren on October 11. You can find more info at their website here.

Happy Auditioning,

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I meant to write a longer post, but then I had to make a curry.

In the meantime:


I'm skeptical of verse onscreen. This also seems a bit like "Across The Universe" meets Shakespeare. Not to get all "Anonymous" on you guys, but I have my doubts. That being said, it does look like it could potentially be good times.

Off to Henry IV Part 2!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Theatre People or Theatre Artists?

There is a classic adage that declares: "Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have."

This phrase is often used to address career ladder climbing in the corporate or business world. However, I feel that there are lessons we as artists could extrapolate and adapt from this saying. Particularly, the Boston theatre scene has come a long way in crafting it's image, but has much further to go.

Recently, I attend a performance by a Boston area based theatre company during which the hosts spoke directly to the audience regarding the format of the evening. During this section of the evening, full of flamboyance and bombast, it came to the audience's attention that there had been a factual error in their presentation. Honest mistake, it happens. No big deal, right? However, the response has something of a self-defeating connotation. I'm totally paraphrasing here:

"What do you want from us? We're theatre people!"

Ugh. Really? I hate that term. I've used it before, I have to admit. Mostly during my high school and University days. In my experience, "Theatre People" was a PC version of the high school moniker "Theatre Queer", among others. It's often used pejoratively by individuals without direct connection to the theatre industry/community.

Ask yourself this: How many times in our life has the social construct of "Theatre People" contributed to the further isolation of an increasingly insular american theatre? Either at large or in your individual circle of work/community?

Now, I'm not advocating that we tell people not to use the term. Especially non-theatre artists. God lord, can you imagine how much worse it would be if all of a sudden we were perceived as annoyingly flamboyant AND super sensitive and PC? This isn't about language control, it's about a cultural shift. I think we ourselves, as individuals should stop thinking ourselves as "Theatre People" and as "Theatre Artists". Or, "People". People who happen to make theatre.

Think about this: How often, on facebook profiles and such, do you see people listing their favorite music, movies, artists... but no plays? Why is it that music isn't considered a niche art form that only certain people like, but theatre is?

Two years ago, The Boston Theatre Conference tackled this and related questions:

Is there a culture shift needed in Boston? The way we think about theatre here and the way we talk about theatre here? Can we shift our thinking and the way we talk about ourselves? Can we bring about a Culture Shift?

The exact context of this question is in relation to our reputation in the context of the national theatre scene, but the same questions can be applied to our place in society at large.

So think about it. How are we presenting ourselves to the world around us? Are we selling ourselves short by buying into the myth that theatre is only for certain types of people? Isn't this supposed to be a universal art form, as valid as all others? How can we make active and proactive choices to shatter this divide and become the frontier of american culture?

And for the lord's sake... can we stop the whole "airhead, in your face, theatre people" minstrel show? I'm not saying don't be flamboyant if you really are that way. Or an airhead.

People can recognize when you're being truthful and when you're just "acting". And no one likes hanging out with "actors".

Act with the respect you deserve. Not the attention you want.