I am the Walrus
In a recent post Theatre artist Linda Essig noted that on her recent trip to NYC a significant portion of the audience for the 4 plays she saw on and off Broadway were fellow Theatre professionals. I left a long and tiresome comment asking if she thought this betrayed a difficulty in how non arts professionals were being engaged, and she somewhat confirmed this by responding that “Theatre is a way of knowing”. In other words, if you stand on the outside of the profession you will be handicapped by a lack of experience, a dearth of common values, and an absence of the insider understanding one develops with life on the planet Jargon.
If it often takes being a professional to think like a professional it is sometimes tragically humorous when the outsiders give their considered opinions. My friend Brandon Phillips just posted on faceb00k that a customer came to his booth with the certainty that his “‘style’ of pottery mildews because it doesn’t have a glaze on it.” That person was fabulously misinformed. But the question is, with such profound ignorance and the closed minded assurance of its own convictions in the majority, just how do we educate the public better?
Brandon’s customer opined that she knew more about the issue than the professional who has a degree, years of experience, and also teaches for a living. Doesn’t this show that the failing isn’t just bits of missing information but in the person’s lack of curiosity that she might just not have the whole of the picture? Isn’t that just what the world looks like when we stop being curious?
And I’m not saying that all nonprofessionals fail miserably when it comes to ‘getting’ what an art object/performance is all about. But a lack of experience doesn’t help us. A dearth of common values is not a boon. An absence of understanding materials, processes, and motivations is not in our favor. And a shortage of curiosity to make up the deficits is perhaps worst of all. Are outsiders always in the best position to SEE these things, necessarily? Do beginners have ‘killer taste’? Really? It doesn’t stop folks from sharing their mildewed proclamations…..
And its not that Linda’s suggestion that art is “a way of knowing” means art is always arcane, esoteric, or opaque to outsiders. Its just a question of how to make sense of it…..
[i am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together!
see how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly …
sittin on a corn flake, waitin on the van to come.
corporation tee-shirt,stupid bloody tuesday man you been a naughty boy you let your face grow long!
i am the eggman woooo…, They are the eggman woooo…, i am the walrus …
coo coo ca choo!
mister city p’liceman sitting –
pretty little policemen in a row!
see how they fly like Lucy in the Sky, see how they run! …
i’m crying …
i’m crrrrrryyyyyyyy-in’ i’m cryin’ … i’m crrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyy …
yellow matter custard, drippin’ from a dead dog’s eye!
crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess –
boy, you been a naughty girl, you let’cha knickers down!
i am the eggman woooo… … they are the eggmen woooo… … i am the walrus …
coo coo ca choo!
sitting in an english garden, waiting for the sun …
if the sun don’t come,
you get your tan from standin’ in the english rain!
i am the eggman (how do you do, sir?) …
they are the eggman (a good man maintains his fortune) …
i am the walrus … coo coo ca choo! … ca coo coo ca choo!
expert texpert choking smokers –
don’t you think the joker laughs at you? (hohoho hehehe hahaha)
see how they smile like pigs in a sty, see how they snied …
semolina pilchard … climbin’ up the eiffel tower!
elementary penguin, singin’ hare krishna –
man, you should’ve seen them kickin’ edgar allan poe!
i am the eggman woooo… … They are the eggman woooo… … i am the walrus!
coo coo ca choo, ca coo coo ca choo –
coo coo ca cho, ca coo coo ca choo ca choo!
Oompa,Oompa,Stick it in your jumper,Everybodys got one,Everybodys got one.(15x)villion take my purse,if thou will’t ever thrive bury my body,And give the letters you find on me to earl of gloster,seek him out on the English party,O untimely death!(everybodys got one,everybodys got one.)I no thee well,A servicible villion,as duteous to thy vices of thy mistress as badness would desire.(Oompa Oompa stick it in your jumper,everybodys got one everybodys got one)what is he dead? sit you down father,rest you]
In the end, are we content to make do with the support of only the handful of fellow professionals and the narrow public who appreciate it for their own outsider reasons? And when we attempt to expand our audience, aren’t we putting enormous faith in the hope that inquisitiveness is still alive in these people? That there is still potential for these people to care about what we do? That some of our reasons might be transparent to them, that some of our materials will strike a chord, and that some of our processes will fascinate them? Just what would happen if all our potential audience had to come from the people whose mildewed opinions were already closed minded about what we are doing?
What do YOU think?