The Nine Circles of Theatrical Hell
The First Circle - The Unready
The script has promise. The actors are talented. I guess it sort of works. But it needs more work—more rehearsal, more polish, more time—before it’s ready for an audience. The piece in its current form is so wobbly and incoherent that, while it may have enjoyable moments, after awhile it becomes an endurance test.
The Second Circle - The Overly-Ambitious
There’s a reason why grown-up theatrefolk often push surprisingly negative messages about content: “Learn to say ‘no’”; “Kill your darlings”; “If you love it, cut it”. You should have listened.
Cut half the characters; cut half the script; pick a message (JUST ONE) and stick with it; you’re making a two-hour play, not a sixteen-volume anthology. There are diamonds in this rough. But oh lord, the rough…
The Third Circle - Audience As Couch
Presenting Mommy Issues: A One-Man Show Which Really Should Be A Conversation With His Therapist
OPENING SOON: You’ll Cringe! You’ll Shuffle Uncomfortably! Still Not Over My Ex-Husand, A Play That Will Move You!
Should Have Left It On LiveJournal: A New Musical You’ll Never Forget, No Matter How Much Bleach You Gargle!
The Fourth Circle - I AM MAKING ART
I AM MAKING ART
I AM MAKING ART
I AM MAKING ART
THIS IS ART
THIS IS MY PLAY
MY PLAY IS ART
I AM SO COOL
The Fifth Circle - The Needlessly Edgy
So the “fresh-squeezed” menstrual blood represents the union of patriarchy and psychology to marginalize queer populations. And the obese industrialist vomiting money into a golden toilet represents the consequences of late capitalism, while the mid-orgy naked children’s choir represents… oh lord, is she literally eating dog shit?
And what is he doing with that mayonnai—oh. Oh, I see.
Say, which door represents the relationship between this theatre and the exit?
The Sixth Circle - The No-Show
You had an idea.
A character, maybe a title, and you figured you’d just… pencil in the rest?
And you thought you could squeeze a two-hour show out of this?
The Seventh Circle - The Crass
If all that theatre, as an industry, is capable of doing is diverting people’s attention for a few hours—if we can’t ask questions, draw attention, raise issues, challenge the audience to think—then we ought to stop pretending that we are in any way distinct from monster-truck rallies.
There’s nothing wrong with monster-truck rallies. But we also don’t pretend that monster-truck rallies are a social force for good and change, or part of some proud and noble intellectual tradition, or are so central to our intellectual well-being as a society as to require university programs and government subsidy.
Because they aren’t.
And if the best you can offer is “diverting entertainment”, devoid of any questions or challenges or insights or unique perspectives, neither are you.
The Eighth Circle - The Cheap
So let me get this straight:
- You don’t pay your actors.
- You don’t pay your designers.
- You don’t pay your technicians.
- You don’t pay your stage managers.
- Half of your front-office staff are unpaid interns.
- You don’t pay your publicist or photographers.
- You don’t carry adequate insurance for your venue.
Sure, you’re making money. But you’re ripping the bottom out from under the entire industry, you’re hurting and exploiting hundreds of people (in that, when “professionals” are made to work for free, this makes it much more difficult for them to demand pay elsewhere), and you should be ashamed of it.
Where do you get off calling this a business?
Where do you get off charging $50 a ticket?
Just who the hell do you think you are?
The Ninth Circle - The Irredeemable
When you pick a tender subject—gender, race, sexuality, personal politics of any kind—you really ought to stop and think.
Do I have something helpful to contribute to this discussion/situation, or am I just idly riffing? (In this context, idle riffing is a perverse sort of profiteering: gay men get beaten to death, and I sell tickets; women are raped, and I sell tickets; it’s not a very nice way to earn a living.)
Am I in a position to speak on behalf of this community, or would it be better that I leave this community to speak for itself? (Signal-boosting is all fine and well, but if you’re crowding out artists who have a stronger claim to speak on behalf of this group, to draw attention to this situation, to raise their own voices about the issues facing their own community, you ought to sit down and let them do so.)
Is my tone appropriately sensitive and generous to the victims, to the marginalized, to the oppressed, or am I punching straight down?
You should have asked yourself these questions. You didn’t. You fucked up, and you fucked up big time.
"As it happens, I think Pina Coladas are foul, and while the rain doesn’t bother me, mutual indifference towards moist weather doesn’t seem like an especially strong foundation upon which to construct a romance.”
"No. No, I will not stay with you, Lisa. You need to stop wallowing in your quirkiness and start seeing a therapist about your constant need for affirmation. And by the way, merely acknowledging your flaws in no way resolves or excuses them. Get help.”
"Personally, I’m offended. I am far more than just a mammal, and besides, it’s rarely a good idea to do anything the way they do it on television.” (This one’s by hysterical—bitch)
"Seriously? ‘Even educated fleas do it’? That’s your pick-up line? You cannot be serious. Did you just compare me to an insect? And I’m supposed to think this is sexy? Wait, you’re not one of those furries, are you?”
"Of course I don’t want you. And stop calling me ‘baby’. We broke up for a reason. I am an independent person capable of making my own decisions and setting my own boundaries, and I ask that you respect them."
"What’s in this drink? WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU PUT IN MY DRINK? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? I’VE SPENT THE LAST TWO VERSES TRYING TO LEAVE YOUR FUCKING CREEPY APARTMENT, AND YOU SPIKE MY FUCKING DRINK?"
Sixteen minutes of video which will blow your mind
An interview segment from 1966 in which two women (one of them a senior cabinet minister, the other an emergent journalist who would later become Canada’s head of state) discuss feminism, gender roles, and the participation of women in politics, uninterrupted, for fifteen minutes straight.
There’s a lot going on in this clip which bears reflection, but mostly I’m just struck by the sheer novelty of what’s going on.
I literally cannot remember the last time I turned on the TV and found myself watching two women (let alone a woman of colour!) discussing gender in any sort of serious way, at any real length, in a respectful and considerate manner, within a program which framed this discussion in a positive and solemn way.
Even when you find programs which specialize in that sort of content (Melissa Harris-Perry, you delightful unicorn!), it comes in quick bursts and blink-and-you-miss-it bites.
Fifteen minutes of women talking about gender. No commercial breaks, no men, no little pink cards and celebrity guests. Just two people—two well-informed, reasonable people—talking.
What a novel concept, eh?
Oh lord, deliver me from unitarians.
In the last week, I have been approached by three different people: a unitarian, a quaker, and a pagan, all of them eager to move me “beyond atheism” and into something more enlightened, more community-focused, more spiritual.
In response, I’d like to tell you a little something about Anglicanism.
I grew up Anglican, and one of the rituals that Anglicans are crazy about is the exchanging of the peace.
Three-quarters of the way through the service, we stop everything and everyone mills around the room, shaking hands with and smiling at everyone else.
And that’s an inoffensive enough ritual, right? Hardly any theological component whatsoever. The community comes together and mutually agrees to forgive and overlook our petty greivances and use this opportunity to reinforce our collective strength and unity. Hooray!
I understand the point of this ritual. I see its virtue. I know why it’s important to so many people. If you scratch the surface, you can even find those for whom this is a precious, precious, vital thing: in some cases (especially for the elderly!) this may even be the only time they actually get to make physical contact with another human being.
But, to me, within my own head, I just can’t find it anything but hollow and meaningless.
It’s meaningless to me because it’s a ritual. We haven’t spontaneously decided to shake hands and make peace with one another. We’re simply doing as we’re told. We are, to borrow a metaphor, being marched off in strict formation to the crest of a lovely hilltop and then ordered to admire the sunset.
It’s meaningless to me because that’s not how conflict, or conflict-resolution, works. Yes, there’s virtue in reminding ourselves that disagreements must be kept in context and channelled in appropriate and healthy ways, but there are still some people whose hands I simply don’t want to shake. Being coerced into doing so—into smothering my disagreements, into artificially smoothing over my issues, into maintaining a pretense of everything being all right—is disempoweing and offensive.
But most importantly of all, it’s meaningless to me because, when I go through this exercise, I am not doing what I would have myself do. This is simply not how I behave or comport myself. The words and the smiles and the actions do not come from a place of truth within me. I am not shaking hands; I am not smiling; I am not making the peace. These actions are being undertaken by my body, but not by me.
I understand that you may find this ritual comforting.
I ask you to consider that I find it frustrating.
I understand that you may find this ritual connective.
I ask you to consider that I find it alienating.
I understand that you may find this ritual nostalgic.
I ask you to consider that I find it calcifying.
And more than that, I ask you to consider that perhaps I am not speaking from a position of anger or ignorance here. I ask you to consider that my perspective is not clouded by youth, or by resentment, or by that uppity Dawkins fellow. (Indeed, this type of ritual is precisely the sort of thing that Dawkins quite enjoys about Christianity. You’d know that if you’d read one of his books rather than reflexively hating on him. I digress.)
I ask you to consider that perhaps I know a thing or two about my emotional needs, about where I am and am not comfortable, about where I do or do not feel included, and about what is present or missing from my own life.
I ask you to consider that the things that you need in order to be happy and healthy and fulfilled are perhaps not the things that I need to attain the same state of equilibrium: that we might even need opposite things entirely.
I ask you to consider that perhaps you are not the first fresh-faced Unitarian or Quaker or Pagan or Ultra-Liberal Jew or vague spiritualist to darken my intellectual doorstep: that perhaps I know a thing or two about the ideas and communities and rituals you’re hawking, and that perhaps I have chosen not to partake for a reason.
And I ask you to consider that this thing which you find empowering and productive and wonderful and fresh-scented is something which I might, for my own reasons, reject. That I have no objection whatsoever to your doing your own thing, and that I do not disapprove, or consider myself superior, or otherwise shit on your doing so.
But that perhaps—just perhaps—what works for you, no matter how well it may work for you, makes me want to jump off a fucking building.
the “i’m a sad plant, cum on me” tumblr aesthetic weirds me out
man shut the hell up with ya lame ass ive never seen a post that says anything like that at all
the plant bloggers are just people who find comfort in knowing that plants continue to grow no matter what like if theres an obstacle in their way they can grow around it and excuse plant bloggers for that making them a little braver about facing their problems
this is such a lame ass post “lemme put down everything that doesn’t appeal to me the same way it does others”
What the fuck is a plant blogger
A geranium with strong views about Mumia.
if you actually self identify as a “stalinist” then i dont want to hear your opinion on communism, i dont want to hear your opinion on anything, and you should consider maybe leaving the house once in a while and getting a friend who isnt your mother
There are still self-identifying maoists in the world.
Believe me, I know.
Oh really? You really wanna go there?
"God, I fucking hate tumblr feminists, they just whine and moan about stupid bullshit and never actually accomplish anything", said the reddit atheist.