I haven’t finished reading a book for pleasure in a long, long time, and I admit to losing grammar and vocabulary. Of course, I research point-of-need requests, whether they be a new play or work-related, and am up on current events and my professional literature.
I always feel a sense of victory when I find relevant “stuff” and make new connections to material. But somehow, I fell out of love with reading. Could be part bad eyesight and lack of attention span, and with that I realize I have become a judgmental audience, whether it be at the theatre or reading a new piece of literature.
Even so, I jumped in wholeheartedly with the playwright/director whose new work I witnessed last weekend. Two amazing performances and a challenging text; I was there for all of it, hooked. I lost myself in it, through the amazing and redundant parts. And then, towards the end, the playwright/director wrote several speeches and had the actor wag her finger at the audience in judgment. And, I overreacted by getting angry.
I am educated, interested in the world around me, and as a playwright, study people and their behavior. It was clear to me why the character in last weekend’s play behaved the way she did, but to be judged by a playwright as being too ignorant to know made me wonder, who exactly is our audience today? I know… My friends and family, and the actors’ friends and family attend my events. But, does the general public? And are they ignorant? No, I don’t think so.
I fell in love with books when I remembered my grade school teachers reading Where the Red Fern Grows, Bridge to Terabithia, Mrs. Fisby and the Rats of NIMH to us after lunch. I’ve decided to initiate a Storytime program at work, reading literature to students who might want to take a break from studying during finals. (Apparently, there is a study that shows that the brain releases Dopamine and the listener experiences pleasure when being read to, and is positively motivated.) But, what can I do to bring in a busy, over-stimulated, stressed-out audience to see my plays? I’ve decided it’s by entertaining them.
A convergence of events led me to write the first draft of a comedy last month. Ironically, and for the first time, one of my plays is getting tons of immediate attention. While entertaining doesn’t necessarily equal funny, I realized, I do need to stop judging my audience and start loving them. I need to remember the audience, and more importantly, remember they come first.