Starting A Fire In The Rain…
It’s been a rainy week in Raleigh.
We had a good theatreSPARK on Saturday despite the weather at SPARKcon 2011, Raleigh’s annual four-day “creative explosion.” Bare Theatre’s “Shakespeare Zone” crew got a really enthusiastic reaction from the crowd at the main stage in City Plaza (special thanks to that one guy in the front row – the ideal audience member!). Admittedly, the crowd was small given that the rain had picked up right before they were about to go on. And for some reason the stage crew decided it was time to lower the projection screen for filmSPARK, even though film wasn’t set to go on for another three hours (and ended up getting relocated due to rain)! By the time they were done lowering the screen, several audience members had already moved on, but our crew are pros, and they made the best of a small crowd and a very misty, slippery stage!
Venue #2 for theatreSPARK was inside, luckily. The wonderful guys at Raleigh Ensemble Players were very kind to open their doors for theatreSPARK and danceSPARK. This worked out great and we managed to pack the place to standing-room, me busking outside in my steampunk finery. Granted, the fact that people could come inside, where it was DRY, warm up, and perhaps even get some popcorn and/or wine, and see some theatre FOR FREE, probably helped.
Once when I mentioned the name of our show, “The Shakespeare Zone,” outside on the street to two guys walking by, one asked, “Is it REAL Shakespeare?” “No,” I replied, which is technically true, although there are many lines from his plays in the sketches. I figured if they were asking that question, they probably wouldn’t recognize the “real Shakespeare” in it. Was that wrong of me?
It wasn’t wrong, as luck would have it – because they loved it. As did many who just came in the door to get out of the rain. It’s a reaction we get time and time again, where people come up to us afterwards and say, in a really surprised way: “Wow! I actually enjoyed that!” or “I understood it!” One of my favorites from a few years ago was: “Did you guys translate that yourselves?”
When we get people who discover that they actually like theatre, Shakespeare, etc., it is priceless. It means we’ve done what we set out to do. It makes it worth it to go perform in the rain, or stand up in front of a small crowd and give it our all.
In 2011, people can download any entertainment – a TV show, a movie, games, and enjoy them from home. Interaction with people is done online, on Facebook, Gmail chat, etc. It seems like people want to go out less and less. And that bothers the bejesus out of me.
The great thing, though, is that this can be changed. One by one, audience by audience, show by show, Raleigh Ensemble Players, Burning Coal, Theatre in the Park, Little Green Pig, Ghost & Spice, Manbites Dog, Deep Dish, Cary Players, Bare Theatre and all the other companies in the Triangle can and do actually get people excited to go to the theatre and see live people performing live plays – a human tradition that goes back at least 2,000 years.
More rain in the next post, but again hope peers through…