Monday, February 2, 2015

Blogging, Martin Freeman, and Theatre

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I need to be completely honest about being a blogger right now. Besides my excuses of being busy, one of the reasons I've stopped blogging frequently is the visibility of this blog. Back in the day when I'd entertained the idea of internet fame, I used to long for my blog to gain high traffic and land me the book deal I always dreamed off. This sounds ridiculous to me now but it was once pretty true. Now, however, I'm struggling a bit because I'm aware of the visibility and the comments I've been receiving on posts.

I love that the Internet allows people to say what's ever on their mind, but sometimes it's not too nice. I don't often get rude comments on here, but the longer this blog is out here, the more I get. Which is understandable. Trolling continues to exist and not everyone has to like what I have to say. I do have pretty thin skin but writing out here has helped me get used to to differing opinions and the not always kind ways in which people express them. However, I'm still a sensitive person and that's something I want to retain a bit of in my life. I'm cynical enough in other ways; there's no use in letting that entirely seep in to my writing. The thing is that I receive far more positive or constructive comments than I do aggressive or rude ones. So this issue is really a moot point - it's not that my blog is all that visible; traffic is relatively light and that's the way I'd like it now. Which is a far place from where I was a year or two ago.

In some ways, this correlates with my interaction with celebrity culture. Not so long ago, I was fascinated with celebrities, sort of yearning to be one myself or to be best friends with one. But then things started to change. I saw my favorite actor perform Coriolanus in London. I began feeling incongruities with my interactions in fan culture versus how I wanted to be treated as a fan. I got an internship, then a job, in theatre. I went back to London and saw another of my favorite actors in Richard III. I came back from London, was working three jobs, and realized that celebrity culture was never something that I wanted to be a part of - I just wanted to belong to something. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I clearly belonged working at the theatre and only in the past month or two have I realized how much not only my views on culture but my own world views have changed.

The weird thing is that I've been acclimated to my present way of thinking for so long that I forget that I ever thought any other way. Fame is a far off thing I'm interested in watching and discussing but it doesn't pertain to me. Not that it did largely for the most part before hand - I wasn't focused on being famous. But it was still something I longed for deep down. Overall, that yearning is gone now. Do I still want to write the next great American novel? Yeah, I do. Do I want to still be able to walk into my local grocery store without getting accosted by people? Yeah, I do. I want to be successful in what I do, in whatever form that takes - hopefully one that allows me to live my life as I'd like but with the added bonus of, you know, having a book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. This still seems pretty impossible most days, but it's more realistic than the dream I had in high school of starting a rock band (which was only entirely impossible because I played flute and had never sung in public before. And knew no one at the time who played guitar).

I think it hit me most of all the other night when watching the American Idol auditions that took place in Minneapolis. I was watching it with a friend who lives in my apartment building and it hit me in the middle of this how strange it was for these people to find music careers this way. There's hundreds of ways to find a musical career - some far more profitable and some far easier than others. But what struck me as most surprising was a guy who performed Million Dollar Quartet in Vegas auditioned for Idol because he wanted to make his own music rather than pretend and play someone else's night after night. As a person who works in theatre, continuously seeing others become people who are not them and say lines they didn't write, I thought this was interesting. I understand why he did it, but for so long, getting into theatre at whatever level was my main goal and I did struggle with the notion that someone who was performing in Vegas (albeit, as an understudy) wanted a larger form of success than that. I don't blame him one bit; my notions of success and "making it" are just very different than his.

Part of me wonders why I continue to say this further, between this post and the last and to draw out differences in thinking which are going to me more obvious to me than it likely will to you wonderful readers. This is probably because it's better to clarify a change in focus than just suddenly change my blog. I contemplated started an entirely new blog, more theatre focused, but that just seemed like a lot of pointless work. So much of the content on here is important and, even if I don't agree with some of the posts I wrote on here in the past (and really it's more like the rhetoric I used in the posts than the actual posts themselves), I prefer the idea of showing where I've come from rather than sweeping it all under the rug. And I don't want to abandon all that content and force all you lovely readers to a new platform. So here we are, on an updated design-wise blog, doing the same old same old, as I waltz pretty circles around ideas and hopefully move to something that makes some semblance of sense.

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Until then, I would like to take a moment to do a bit of reflection on my favoritism of certain celebrities and fangirl a bit over the namesake for this strange writing beast. And that would be Martin Freeman. You see, I had the extreme luck and pleasure to see Mr. Freeman perform Richard III in London last September. Much like seeing Coriolanus only a matter of months before, it utterly blew my mind and made me realize how important theatre is in my life. But it also made me consider exactly how one's own favorites actors related and affect one's life. I've liked Mr. Freeman's work long before I knew him by name, when I first saw him in Love Actually. But it's incredible to me how someone can command such a role like Richard III and make you love and hate him all at the same time. The scene that blew my mind the most was a part in the play shortly after he murders his wife. Now, I have a fondness for dark and grim plays, but also abhor violence. (Also, stage blood makes me nauseous. More about that in another post.) The murder scene was horrible to watch; totally uncomfortable and jarring. But minutes later, when Richard's mother is reprimanding him and calling him beastly names, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Richard. It didn't make any sense - I'd clearly seen him do something terrible scenes before. But Mr. Freeman's posture as Richard, the way in which he wilted to the verbal abuses, his look of shock and sadness at his mother's words - it caused a sudden and very powerful conflict in my stance as an audience member.

This is what I love about theater so much - the immediacy, the way it sways and moves you the way film does, but right before your very eyes in a place that you do not have any command over. You can pause a film at home, but you cannot stop a show once a stage manager has got it going. (Okay, yes, you could stop a show, but I highly recommend you do no such thing.) What makes Richard III such an eerie play is that Richard makes you complicit in his actions and scheming - he speaks directly to the audience from the beginning of the play, and you have no choice but to sit there and watch the horrors unfold. The way in which the director, Jamie Llyod, and Martin Freeman portrayed this onstage was thoroughly engaging, rather sociopathic, and a bit seductive. I didn't want anyone to stop Richard from his monstrous deeds because I was rather getting a kick out of watching them unfold. Which is anything but what I'd feel if this were actually happening around me. But it's how the show made me feel and that's an incredible power to create.

I have a renewed fondness for Mr. Freeman after that performance and feel even happier than ever to have him relevant to this blog (however strange the blog's title might be). It's shows like this that have driven me to work in theatre, even while working sixty hours a week and dealing with bleeding patrons, nearly naked men doing yoga in the lobby, interactions with the police, and the general hullabaloo one experiences as a house manager. But that's another story entirely... :)

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy reading about your evolution (keep on keeping on!) and am glad that you've got real theatre work--hope that continues to be engaging. I also appreciated the comments on R3 and Martin Freeman, of course.

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