Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bored with Boards

There are several large and well known online gathering places for community theatre enthusiasts such as myself. Message boards. Blogs. But I confess that I am not a part of any of them.

I have tried to be more than once at various points over the years. I may even try to be so again in the future, but I might now. I just cannot "get into" such online communities, even though I know that I should.

I am uncertain why it never seems to take. You'd think with all of the potential benefits of connecting with other actors like myself in other theatres around the country I would jump at the chance. And as I mentioned a few times before, I have. But after a short time it loses its appeal.

Maybe it is just the nature of message boards in general, but I tend to find the same situation in any theatre board I visit. The politics. The less than warm welcome new people receive. The dead threads that leave an open ended question unanswered for months sitting on the same forum right next to a post about something frivolous and irrelevant getting 156 responses and counting. A need to sell one's presence or one's concern before the tribe before any amount of attention is paid to what you say. It's maddening and deflating. If I wanted to bring up a subject and have nobody take an interest in it, I would just hang out in person with 80% of the people I know.

Perhaps such boards tend to attract mostly mainstream thinking. A "hotbed for the conventional" to coin a phrase. And while I am not one to push envelopes or challenge the status quo just for the sake of doing it, my ideas for acting, directing, publicizing and any number of other theatre related topics trend towards unconventional. You would think that artists, performers, and directors would be excited by such a challenge to the norm. And perhaps some are. Yet when I do express an opinion contrary to the standard acting or theatre practice, message board users have tended to respond with silence or with indignation.

Or perhaps I have just not found the right message board for community theatre.

In the end, I know that I need a fresh set of ears for some of my experiences. My theories. My ideas. I work with some talented, wonderful people in my local community theatre circle, but they are the same people over and over most times. The experiences are usually good ones around here, but at the same time I long for a different view from different people. Others who do love theatre, and know what they are talking about, but wouldn't have the slightest notion as to the politics of Theatre A in this town, or the nature of the casting preferences that are obvious in Theatre B. People who can talk of the nature of the craft and enjoyment of same, instead of gravitating towards local personality conflicts and specific tendencies of any given board of directors. I think we all benefit from new perspectives like that.

Any suggestions for such places for discussion online would be appreciated, though keep in mind I have visited the biggest three message boards already so far. Though not for years. Maybe I need to give them a try again.

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