Now, some of what George is saying is naturally true: it doesn't do much good for an artist to simply confirm the worldview of his audience, or just perform a weightless song-and-dance routine. But, as usual, I found myself a little at odds with, perhaps feeling simply resistant to, what George was writing here.
I asked myself why, for once, because I'm not a person that I think has vastly different tastes than George. Maybe we don't agree on Foreman, but we're both fans of Beckett and Pinter, and we both believe in challenging theatre that is not simply "entertainment."
What I finally arrived at as the foundation of my discomfort was the repetition of the term "the audience" and the way it is used. How Scott Walters also speaks of what "the audience" wants and needs, and how George seems to think Scott is making things too easy on the crowds (It is, in fact, the title of the post.)
The audience is not one thing. An audience can be different from Wednesday to Thursday for one show. Then again, the entire "audience" for one writer may not be the same "audience" for another.
But, the audience is the center of the theatrical world. Not the artist, but the audience. What we do has an effect on spectators, onlookers, who often have specifically chosen to come and experience and observe whatever it is we are presenting. They are, rightly, our obsession. And like any obsession, sometimes, it makes us hostile.
While this could be an endless topic, I'd like to at least get one started. Here are a few questions and comments to perhaps inspire some response.
- What makes someone buy a ticket to go and see a play?
- Is your audience different from someone else's?
- How does a contemporary individual "see" a play, as opposed to an individual whelped on radio?
- Do you think of the audience when you write or direct or act?
- Do you actually like "the audience" and "the crowd?"
- I hear a lot of talk about shaking up the crowd, etc. It sometimes feels like we view art as a cure to some sickness "the audience" suffers from.
- Is the artist intended to impose his imagination on the spectators, or inspire the imagination of the spectators?
- What is the difference between "the audience" and "the spectators?"
I'll be happy to try my hand at answering those questions, soon enough. But I thought maybe, before I did, I'd just put this out there.