Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bits and bobbies.

- Did I link to Alec Scott's "Flop Culture" article in Toronto Life? Here's the thrust: "The Factory, Tarragon and Passe Muraille once drew buzz, profits, even the police. Today, the work is marginal at best."

Well, Ken Gass, A-D at Factory, has responded in an interview with BlogTo: "Alec Scott (whoever he is, perhaps one of the dispirited, disgruntled people he alludes to with such authority) is so far off the mark, the article is really beneath contempt and beneath comment. In terms of the references to Factory, it is so egregiously erroneous and outrightly false, my first reaction was to launch a libel suit."

That prompted playwright/journo Alison Broverman to respond to Gass on her blog, and me to respond to her in the comments. Conversation!

- Helen Pidd in the Guardian reports on British bobbies moving to "the rather obscure Alberta": "A significant proportion of the new officers patrolling Calgary have British accents - of the 50 extra policemen and women the force was told to recruit last year, 48 came from the UK. When the 58-strong class of 2008 touch down later this year, nearly 10% of Calgary's entire force will be British."


Anonymous said...

Scott's assertion may or may not be true; it is certainly not "beneath contempt". Scott has made a provocative point, not entirely unwarranted, and it is worthy of consideration and response.

The one element no one seems to be ready to discuss is the Audience. Someone once said "you cannot have great theatre without great audiences". Does Toronto have great theatre audiences, honestly? Or are Toronto's audiences and theatres dragging each other down, in a dance of self-absorbed torpor?

Exception to above: the Fringe Festivals. Those are great audiences.

Ian Mackenzie said...

Torpor! What a word to use.

Are Toronto theatre audiences really that dull, apathetic, numb and dormant?

Where are these Fringe-goers the other 354 days of the year? When they're not packing the houses at SummerWorks? Or in early-January sellouts at The Next Stage Festival (at the Factory)? Or snapping up tickets to the Tarragon's hot new play?

Maybe we're a festival theatre town. Maybe we need more theatre festivals. We could have a theatre festival for every month of the year and rebrand our city, "Toronto - the city of a dozen theatre festivals."

That would be something.

Anonymous said...

It would be something if these events attracted people who weren't all over 50, and not all theatre-biz aspirants and insiders.

Now THAT would be something.

Ian Mackenzie said...

You're right.

Toronto theatre could benefit from a much wider, much younger audience base.

I see it as a marketing challenge, and a challenge to theatre makers generally: If you want to get more people to your show, maybe you need to ask those people what kind of theatre they want to see. Or, more to the point, find out what kind of stories they might want to hear and then tell those stories in a way that satisfies both the artist and the audience.

I don't know. It's complicated. And this idea of bending your art to the will of the masses is not popular among the practitioners I've spoken to about it.

How to improve, invigorate, widen the audience base past the insiders and aspirants?

It's a good question.

MK said...

Ian, if you figure it out, let me know. Maybe a place to start is to look at recent history to find shows that did bring in that kind of audience and find the commonalities. From there, see if we can tell the stories we need to tell in a way that includes those commonalities. Does that make sense?