10 questions and the truth

Image by Max Wolfe.

We’re back!
Yes. Not only is this the first post to appear on this blog in more than seven years, it’s the first time all this content has been online and mobile-optimized since its domain expired more than two years ago.

This is newsworthy for pretty much just one reason: the content of its “10 questions” interviews.

If you’re not familiar with the “Theatre is Territory” blog, this was the centrepiece of a marketing and outreach program we launched at Praxis Theatre back in 2006.

The blog was a place to talk about theatre and our work in a way that crossed disciplines, communities and borders. We were among the Canadian pioneers of the theatrosphere – a large and loose collection of theatre blogs spread across North America and beyond.

Smart answers to dumb questions.
One of this blog’s most popular features was its weekly “10 questions” interviews. This was our chance to ask some of North America’s most interesting and articulate theatre practitioners about their craft.

These text and image interviews span nearly 100 artists, producers and administrators, and ran over a period of three years from 2006 to 2009. Interviewees include Mike DaiseyHannah MoscovitchDaniel MacIvorDarren O’DonnellChristine HorneBrendan GallEvan WebberMaja Ardal, Scott Walters, Ryan McMahon, Tara Beagan, and, and, and… All of whom have gone on to do even more interesting and innovative work in the intervening years.

And while I never missed an opportunity to ask a dumb question, or let my agenda show, at least eight times out of 10, the responses to these questions are flat out stunning.

For posterity, reference, general interest and because many of them are just so damn good, I felt it important to make sure the content was up and optimized. So here we are.

Two big thank yous.
First, thank you to the interviewees. It was always amazing to us when someone agreed to be interviewed for our little blog. The quality, substance and wit on display in each of the interviews is the only evidence you’ll need to see that most people took the care they needed to get it right.

Second, it’s important to acknowledge that none of these interviews would exist without Praxis Theatre and its founders – Michael Wheeler, Simon Rice – and the early contributions to the company from Mark Abraham. To that note, the entire extended Praxis Theatre gang deserve acknowledgement here. The strange fact that this content is here and not over at PraxisTheatre.com is a post for another day. But to those for whom it matters, let me assure you this is Praxis Theatre content. It owes a huge debt of gratitude to all those who contributed to making that theatre company what it was.

The interviews.
See that long list of interviews to the right? (Or way down there at the bottom on mobile.) That’s the good stuff. Click on any one of them and start reading. The list of gems is almost as long as the list itself. I’m still working on re-reading them all. In the mean time, some early favourites:

  • Andrew Larimer‘s post-Katrina snapshot of New Orleans’ theatre.
  • Time Out New York theatre critic David Cote‘s searing unpacking of theatre criticism.
  • Mike Daisey ridiculing one of my (yes, dumb) questions, but then taking the time to pen a great response anyway.

But if you’re looking for a place to jump in, you simply cannot go wrong, right here, with Omie the clown.

Charles Nolte

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I just learned that Charles Nolte has passed on (January 14, 2010). My condolences to his family, friends, fans, students and colleagues.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Charles for this blog back in October 2007. It was easily one of the most rewarding interviews I’ve ever done. He had been on Broadway in the 40s and had a rich career in theatre ever since. Please take a look if you have a few minutes. You’ll be glad you did: 10 questions: Charles Nolte.

I never met the man in person, but I feel like I know him. Thanks Charles.

5 shallow and unfocused thoughts about theatre

Thanks for stopping by. Sorry for the shortage of posts in the space. Been working on some different theatre and non-theatre projects. How the heck are you?

Here’s some theatre stuff I’m thinking about:

1. The imagination gap is caused by the resource gap which is caused by the imagination gap . . . and so on.

2. Where is genre theatre? And by this I mean, where are the broad theatre genre classifications and productions that have meaning for people who don’t know anything about genre. “I can’t wait to see that new ____.” Western? Horror play? Corporeal mime?

3. Actors are noble beasts. Like cats and grade school teachers. All of whom, incidentally, enjoy being the centre of attention.

4. Marketing spend. It would be amazing to have a fully resourced year to spend coming up with ways to market theatre.

5. Impossible theatre. Is there a kind of theatre that will never exist? Maybe like theatre that involves dead people, or something.

Address to the Jury @ Toronto Fringe

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The story behind this Fringe postcard: “Designers are like secret weapons. Tricky to secure in low/no budget theatre but invaluable when they put their minds to it. DMeister Creative has clients like Microsoft, HP and SoftChoice (the same company that through our lead actor offered us free rehearsal space in their board room!). But where do you meet these talented people looking for cool projects to do outside their corporate gigs? DMeister is an ex-boyfriend of a roommate of a friend of mine, of course.” – Cole J. Alvis


We advertise your Toronto Fringe show for free: Check it out.

Michael in Primetime @ Toronto Fringe

freefringeadvertisingenlightenment

The pitch: Michael is the next contestant on the newest reality TV series “Reality” – a show that takes young, good looking but incredibly troubled men out of their natural environment and forces them to face the realities of their existence. With the help of mom, a significant other, a scientific genius, a commercial about depression, a detective and 10 other people, Michael discovers there’s more to life than eat, sleep, poop, mate and die.

More info here: Enlightenment Theatre.


We advertise your Toronto Fringe show for free: Check it out.

Theatre posters that don’t suck

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You know what’s amazing about the Soulpepper posters, besides everything? It’s how they take human bodies and replace the head with something that’s not a human head. It’s a simple idea that helps bring cohesion to the brand across multiple production campaigns.

nightmother

From the ‘night mother poster.

glengarry_glen_ross

From the Glengarry Glen Ross poster.

So, what’s the big idea behind your next production campaign?

Make $75,000 a year theatre blogging

Crain’s New York Business magazine has published a poignant profile of New York theatre writer Leonard Jacobs that details how he’s taking his theatre blog from a part-time hobby to a full-time job:

“In the six months since he lost his job as national theater editor of trade paper Back Stage, Leonard Jacobs has turned a hobby into a nascent business.”

You can read it here: Jettisoned journalist applies a business plan to his blog.

Seven things I learned about theatre in the past 10 days

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There are many things to know about theatre. Maybe one day I will know them all. For now, I am satisfied with the following seven things I learned about theatre in the last 10 days:

1) The bit in Glengarry Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin comes in to scream obscenities at all the salesmen was written for the movie – and is not in the play.

2) Daniel Brooks prefers not to do interviews via email.

3) Canadian playwright and actor Marjorie Chan thinks that questions that relate “identity performance” to “theatrical performance” are pretentious.

4) There is a thing called “Twitter plays.”

5) Shakespeare is still boring as hell.

6) The theatre blog market is becoming saturated with high-quality offerings. Those of us who are hoping to retain or acquire market share without putting in the work might not drown, but we ain’t going to thrive neither. You don’t get a prize just for being alive, as they say.

7) The contemporary electronica group Massive Attack once did a soundtrack for a 1965 Samuel Beckett film called, Man Next Door. It’s reminiscent of that Pink Floyd-Wizard of Oz mashup Dark Side of the Rainbow – minus the awesome.

So that’s me all caught up. Do you have anything you’ve learned about theatre in the past 10 days that you’d like to share?