The Belly of the Beast-Night #94

Alt Text Sez: BBOOOOOOMMM!!!!Friends and comrades! On occasion, I have been known to appear as a guest-blogger for fellow artists and creators, lending my “voice and charm” to them to endow their blogs with a change of scene for faithful readers.

Well, this week reinforcements have arrived from the North! Here to serve your reading delights, and let you know that there is more than one person in this world who shares my crackpot theories, ladies and gentlemen, I give you, actor, mime, electrician, all-around goof, Mr. Alex Smith!

The journey began by riding in gallantly on a screaming steel dragon, defying the grip of gravity on gleaming wings and pushed by hot gasses spewing from twin engines, bearing the markings “Alaska Airlines” scrawled in blue and white on its side.

It ended rather anticlimactically, limping in on a pigeon-like craft, grasping desperately at the air with a pair of turboprops doing their very best to live up to their name.

But here I am! The Voice from the North, frenetic and frantic, coming to lend my two cents!

Be sure to get correct change back.

Theatre! Lifeblood of civilization! The second oldest profession after prostitution! Often mistaken for the first, this ancient art has been with humanity since before established language. This isn’t a history lesson though. That’s what Wikipedia is for.

But go there after reading this blog entry. In fact, read all of Bitter Lemons’ great pieces first. Heck, read the old stuff too!

Alex, eyes on the prize.

Right. I have  been involved in the theatrical arts in every conceivable position. I have created a term for people like me: “Theatrician”; One who joyfully wedges themselves into every aspect of theatre, be it behind, above, in front of or on the stage. I have found the thing I’m willing to lie, cheat, steal and get a really, really bad paper cut for. Like the kind of paper cut that is in the webbing of the fingers, real deep and keeps opening up when you go to grab the remote or pick up a fork.

Yeah, I’m in it for the win.

Such things being said, I get pretty damn preachy about the art form. While I’m still forming ideas about what Theatre need to be in this brave new millennia, I know what it’s not supposed to be.

Harmful to itself.

Movies are awesome. Nothing blows up like it can on the screen, and I love it. The internet is a glorious thing that can make humanity shine creatively and scientifically as never before. Without video games I fear my primal need for violence might go unvented, and I cherish the catharsis that pixel-punches and digital-destruction provide. But theatre. Ah! Theatre! Some say video killed the radio star, and film has been sounding the death-knell of the stage for fifty-some-odd-years.

Sing it, brother! But figuratively ‘brother’…otherwise we’d be committing a crime in like 48 states…

Heh. That’s a dirty joke. I think the only thing hurting theatre, I mean really cutting its Achilles’ tendon and watching it flail about hysterically, is spectacle. For a time, theatre was all about spectacle, with lavish sets and hundreds of actors, and even livestock wowing audiences for decades. As we know, film has taken the place of that, able to do all these things far better than we ever could live. Jen once told me, “do something really well, or don’t do it at all” when referring to special effects and the like onstage. I have done my best to subscribe to this handy notion, even when I’m trying to concoct some crazy assemblage of tubing and electricity to make a roman fountain spurt on command for comedic effect.

No one can (maybe no one should) deny that theatre is on a downswing right now. Where I work, attendance is floundering and quite literally dying out. In a desperate attempt to bring in new blood, theatres around the region, nay, around the world, are incorporating lavish spectacle and special effects.

Unfortunately not too wisely. Not too well either.


Ah! Gold star! We’ve tried projectors, we’ve tried onstage rivers. we’ve even tried fire. and each time it’s been an expensive failure, because we didn’t really have the facilities to pull off such feats. Nor should we aspire to. Leave explosions and high-tech flying to film. What we can offer better than any other medium is nearly impossible to replicate-Human interaction.

This is what we ought to bank on. This should be that new theatre. Nowadays a trip to the stage is almost exactly akin to a trip to the movies-sit down, shut up, and watch. Why would people do such a thing where the explosions aren’t good when they could do the same thing (sometimes cheaper) at the movies?

As I step off of my high horse, get caught in the stirrup and end up stuck underneath my bleached steed of grandiouse-ness, hear one last thing from your Northern Voice-we musn’t let the desire to go bigger and better (granted an American standard I have no problem with most times)


…Take over our desire to create wonderful art that people will want to come see because we provide what nothing else can in a digitized-supersized-seperatized world: the human condition!

Filed Under: Featuredjen davisPonderings


About the Author: Jen Davis is a stranger in a strange land. Following a life of wandering and re-location(where am i? WHO AM I?) she made a decisive (drunken) decision to forsake all things holy and move to Southern California. She recently received her BA in Theatre while narrowly avoiding a minor in philosophy. Jen has staged plays, mimes, sword fights, and cakewalks throughout the Pacific Northwest, most recently as Associate Artistic Director of Toy Boat Theatre Company. She seeks to revitalize and re-establish the theatre as a necessary part of American life through producing, writing, and generally crying out to anyone who will listen. Her marketable skills include learning to juggle, baking, and persistence.

RSSComments (4)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Colin Mitchell Colin Mitchell says:

    That was spectacular.

    Schizophrencially so.

  2. Yale Cohn says:

    Good stuff, Jen, I’m a fan. The rest of these miscreants and navel gazers can vouch for me, and my bonafides as a taste-maker.

    When I discovered Jason Rohrer, he was a lot lizard giving 20 dollar blow jobs at truck stops in Omaha, Nebraska.

    Now, he’s one of the highest-paid escorts in Los Angeles.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Jen says:

    Glad to know I’m rising to the occasion.

  4. Jason Rohrer Jason Rohrer says:

    I bitch at least twice a year about the Troilus and Cressida I saw in Central Park when I was young and pretty. In it, Achilles dragged Hector’s body across the stage behind a gold-painted Jeep; this, after biting out his tongue and spitting it into the audience. The deterioration of theatrical imagination is in exact ratio to the relevance of theater.