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Friday, November 07, 2008

Theatre is Territory 2.0

So. What the fuck is going on with this blog?

I know.

Things have been a bit slow around here lately. It’s my fault. After more than two years, 426 posts, 78 “10 questions” interviews, and more comments section brawls than I can count, I must admit that my capacity for pumping this stuff out is waning. I still love theatre and theatre blogging. But resources are finite, and there are other projects on the horizon – not the least of which is my role in marketing Praxis Theatre’s upcoming production of Stranger, by far our most ambitious show to date.

That said, I am thrilled to announce that starting next week there will be a new voice, and a new energy in this space. If you’ve been a regular reader or commentor, you already know Michael Wheeler and his frequently insightful contributions to this blog. As a commentor, and occasionally as a guest poster, Michael has been a big supporter of this blog since its inception. He also happens to be Praxis Theatre’s Co-Artisitic Director.

Michael will now join me in the day-to-day posting at this venue. In the spirit of its origins, all posts will continue to be signed “Praxis Theatre”. Some will be written by Michael, some by me. Ultimately, and if we’re doing our jobs, it shouldn’t really matter who’s writing the posts. It’s not about Praxis Theatre or about one writer’s voice. It never has been. We’re interested in the big ideas. In learning more from our industry peers. And in being a thoughtful and relevant part of the conversation. Michael’s a great fit and I thank him dearly for caring enough about this project to step up when it needs him most.

So let’s see where this takes us. For my part, I’m looking forward to continuing the “10 questions” series. I want it to be good. So I may take another couple of months off interviewing to recharge and recalibrate.

Thank you kindly for your patience through this transition. And thanks to everyone who has contributed to this conversation so far. I am humbled by your generosity and wisdom.

Obviously, there is plenty more we need to figure out.

Welcome Michael.

Ian Mackenzie
Director of Marketing
Praxis Theatre


Simon said...

Ohhh, snap. Now we're in for it.

I sense a balance returning to the force. This is great news guys, I'm very much looking forward to the new helmsman.

Do we still get abiding, iconic imagery?

Michael Wheeler said...

Thanks for letting me share this with you Ian. Looking forwards to many diverse and challenging discussions.

MK Piatkowski said...

LOL @ Simon.

Looking forward to more of Michael's insights. Even when we disagree, I always appreciate the intelligent debate. And after seeing him in the trenches during the election, I'm extremely happy he's going to have a wider forum.

This blog has a special place on the blogisphere and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Michael Wheeler said...

Thanks MK.

I enjoy our debates too. It would get pretty boring if we all just agreed with each other constantly.

Thanks also for the props re: the election. My work with Department of Culture was revelatory to me in terms of the actual resources the arts community possesses. I'm going to continue to address more overtly partisan issues (I hesitate to use "political". Everything is political) at as a private citizen in my own time, not representing any not-for-profit organization.

My challenge on Theatre is Territory is to help facilitate discussion, debate and information about indie theatre. Fortunately Ian is here too, to guide me at this. There's nothing really broken with this thing, so as the saying goes...

Simon said...

So Mike. What do we talk about now?

Michael Wheeler said...

I actually don't have "the keys" until tomorrow.

For today, I will suggest as myself from the comments section that the convergence of the internet and theatre is something that is becoming more than a fad:

Cute With Chris just closed at the Theatre Centre here in Toronto. (Opens tonight for an extended run in LA.) The production was sold out for many shows because of the immense fan base Chris Levins intentionally and systematically created for the show over using his website.

Other than more blogging, how can new technology be harnessed better to increase the popularity of indie theatre? How can we use the tools we already have to reach a wider audience?

Nick Keenan said...

Ian: You are right. These interviews are good. REALLY good. Please keep them going. It's been invaluable to get a more in-depth look at the various perspectives at work in theater blogging, and they're oddly one of the best ways one can get some background and context when you're first joining the dialogue as a blogger. You guys are some of the smartest folks doing this work out there, and I hope Praxis itself has been doing well because of your voices.

And bravo for recognizing your limitations, recognizing the talent in Michael, and having the foresight to keep this force of commentary and dialogue rolling in a sustainable way. It's really, really valuable.

O Canada.

ian mackenzie said...

Nick. Thank you. That's incredibly encouraging and nice of you to say.

Doing the interviews and running this blog over the past two years has been rewarding beyond measure.

I actually didn't see this coming. I thought I'd be able to keep blogging in this space at that pace for years on end. And then one day, in late September, I just hit the wall. It was a strange experience. And then I was just kind of paralyzed. Not wanting to kill the blog, but not able to continue it either. Mike gave me some space to figure out what I was going to do, and then tactfully offered to help.


Limitations bug me. I supposed most people are bothered by their limitations. But if you love something, you set it free. Right?

One thing is for sure, I'm going to start up our interview series again when the time is right. I look forward to that.

Thanks Nick.

Simon said...

"the convergence of the internet and theatre is something that is becoming more than a fad:"

I hope to God that you're right. I see next to no evidence of that here in Vancouver, at least in a marketing sense. Much work to do.

This is something I will be discussing further in an upcoming guest post right here on Theatre is Territory (it's coming guys, it's coming...).

Nick Keenan said...

Well, Simon, I wonder if that sense of yours might be from having unreasonable expectations about the web's impact on our theater work. The web is really good at generating unreasonable expectations, because suddenly you're talking to seven people from across the globe.

Then you realize that you're talking to seven people... only.

So this convergence of theater and web is not a complete solution - certainly not a marketing solution. But it's still valuable. It is a really fast way to open your eyes as a theater and understand the full context in which you operate. And that knowledge of context will reap many rewards - but they come slowly.

Here on the web, our words stick around. We're not used to this in theater production. They continue to work for you after you have forgotten about them. Our thoughts accrue and spread and mix, and if they are well-formed, they come back to us, and suddenly they have more power than when we posted them. We have a lot of work yet to do, but the web is eroding and changing all the arts right now, and the theatrosphere doesn't seem to be treating that change like a fad. So I don't think it will be one.

Simon said...


Hm. I certainly agree with you that the web isn't the immediate marketing solution (I actually think that's meeting the potential audience face-to-face), but I think that it could be used to much greater affect regionally to encourage that solution. (Speaking solely for my own region. I see that some other cities are more advanced at dialoguing as a community online than here in Vancouver, like Chicago.)

And judging from the web's impact on other entertainment industries, I think my expectations are entirely reasonable. Ultimately, I think theatre is very insulated from technology by its nature, and is taking to cyber-communications gingerly. And you're bang on, when you hang on the theatrosphere your scope does expand. But as a local marketing and networking tool, my community has got to cozy up to the web more if we want the uninitiated to sit up and take notice.

I love the notion that you drop here about the internet introducing a sense of accessible permanence to theatre ideas for the first time. There is much to consider in that.

Michael Wheeler said...

I think the key may lie in the fact that the internet is about more than just disseminating words at this point. These websites and blogs are electronic printing presses, but also radio stations, television stations, arcades and movie theatres.

I have no solid thesis on how this can be leveraged for indie theatre yet, but I have a suspicion that we are not using our resources to the full extent possible.