General Question

Libby's avatar

What do you get from looking at information about a theatrical production that you might not get from just seeing the show?

Asked by Libby (35points) June 22nd, 2009

Hi, I’ve been landed a temp job in outreach using archives. Can you help? Thanks

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7 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

The show can and should stand on its own. I should not need any additional information in order to enjoy it.

But some background can enrich my experience of the show, increase my understanding of it, and enhance my appreciation, which is quite distinct from my enjoyment.

Examples of kinds of information that I like to read ahead and welcome seeing in the program (in addition to the name of the author/composer/librettist/playwright/~~):

— When it was written and where it was first produced. (Context, social norms and conventions, cultural references)
— Age and stage of career of the author or composer. (Relationship to other works I might know, setting of expectations)
— Whether it was based on some other work or source. (Framework)
— Initial public reception. (Historic perspective)
— Any special details about the production (e.g., the most popular number was almost cut from the first production; the opening of the second act once caused a theater fire in Paris; the lead had to learn to juggle in order to play the part). (Increase anticipation, arouse awareness of the art per se)
— The composer’s or creator’s vision. (Understanding)
— Thematic siblings, spiritual cousins (e.g., draws heavily on mythic themes of ancient Greece; in the tradition of Verdi and Puccini; a classic coming-of-age story). (Orientation, enrichment, setting of expectations)
— Critical evaluation—brief summary (e.g., considered his best; a glimpse of the brilliant but immature work of ~~; enormously influential in the genre; oft-overlooked small gem). (Interpretation, setting of expectations)

Is this the kind of thing you’re looking for?

Can I quit my job and come to work with you?

Libby's avatar

Thanks for that. You can come work on it sounds like you know what you are talking about. What is intangible heritage, do you know?

Jeruba's avatar

I think most of what you’d call “heritage” is intangible. As a term of art, there’s this. (Source: Google)

Libby's avatar

Thanks for the link. Why do you think all heritage is intangible? You can feel somethings

Jeruba's avatar

“Tangible” means “capable of being touched.” Most of what is considered heritage is not capable of being touched (i.e., physical, material, a solid object). I said “most,” anyway, not “all.”

I’m sure you’ll want some points of view other than mine to consider in your thinking.

lifeflame's avatar

I always appreciate photos/visuals that give me a sense of the show’s aesthetic.

But yeah, as a director, this is an important question. I never assume that the audience will read the program, but also know that the programme/publicity is another channel of communication that can set expectations and complement the audience’s experience.

cyndyh's avatar

When you see a show you see those people interpreting the writer’s work. If I know the play first I’m more likely to compare and contrast in my head the choices the director and actors made with the ones I might have made. I might enjoy or dislike the way the characters are modernized, or americanized, or the way age, gender, ethnicity, etc. are modified if I know about the original work.

I might think “interesting choice” or “oh, I like that idea” or “what the fuck?” But I like having some idea to go on. Jeruba gave you some great ideas above.

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