Tag Archives: shakespeare

Finishing Something

I’ve nearly made half a dozen blog entries in the last couple days. I want to post about Julian Assange, I want to post about Ecuador, I want to post about Pussy Riot, I want to post about climate change, I want to post about Playing it Cool, I want to post about theater (this, at least, is out of my hands till next weekend, when I have a show booked).

I want to organize the things in my living room, put the books with the books and sort through the clothes and sweep and swiffer and take out the recycling and clean up my emails and work on my novella and read my friend’s novella and brag about having just finished copy editing another friend’s novel.

I have a to-do list as long as my arm full of things I don’t feel passionately about starting, and every so often I think, “Breakfast would be nice.”

But mostly I want to lie in bed and think about the play I saw earlier this week: Coriolanus at Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, a New York City institution currently being nurtured by The Drilling Company, whose Mangella I very much enjoyed when I saw it last year.

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot takes place down on the Lower East Side, at what must be one of the last publicly-owned parking lots in the city. Plastic chairs were set up in traverse-style, and there was a huge swell of blanket-dwellers beyond that.

I’ve never seen Coriolanus before. The imagery/rhetoric of Occupy was used to draw distinctions between the commoners, their representatives, and Coriolanus himself – a soldier returning home triumphant after long wars, whose utter disdain for the lower class would make Ayn Rand (and probably a Romney or two) proud. I was never quite sympathetic to Coriolanus, except in brief scenes with his mother, but the actor played him very well (and my apologies for not grabbing a program and therefore being unable to call out his name).

So now I’ve spoken about the theater stuff I saw the other night, at least.

Maybe breakfast isn’t the worst idea I’ve had all morning.

Words, Emotions, and How Your Audience is Feeling

Many’s the time I’ve sat in readings and development workshops and been asked, “Who is your audience?” It’s one of my least favorite questions. What am I supposed to say? “People with good taste”? How do I choose to experience my entertainment? Based on what I want to feel. I suspect I’m not alone in this. When you pick up a novel, what makes you choose Bridget Jones instead of H.P. Lovecraft? (Or vice versa?)

I don’t know the traditional demographic features – age, gender, race, hair color – of an audience that will like my work. I have a pretty good idea of the kinds of books they read, the characters they enjoy, the stories and themes that stir their emotions. But their salaries? The number of kids they have? Isn’t that why market research was invented?

“Who’s your audience” is a reductive question. It assumes that once an audience is identified, the play will change to suit that audience. I would argue that during the development process, the goal should be to create the strongest work possible – then decide how to market it to the public.
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