April 25, 2007

#1 Reason to Be Equity: There Will Never Be a Video Allowing the Entire Internet to Second-Guess My Work

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 5:59 am

An incident happened last week at monologuist Mike Daisey’s show in Boston in which a high school group of about 80 people (in a 300-seat theatre) got up and walked out in the middle of his show. Apparently they were a Christian group and were offended by the language in the show (despite apparently having been told it had adult language when they bought their tickets). If you want the full story, it’s on his blog (with video of the whole thing, too!)

But that’s not really my point. There’s been some wondering in the online communities about whether an event of this magnitude might have been staged to drum up publicity for an otherwise largely unknown show. One thing in particular that is used as evidence is that the house lights were brought up right away when the people started to leave. Some have pointed to this as an indication that the stage manager was prepared for what was about to happen. I don’t really have a strong opinion about whether it was staged, but from the moment I saw the video I was interested in the decision to bring up the house lights, simply because I wasn’t sure what I would do if that happened to me.

My final decision is that if I had no idea why they were leaving, I probably would have brought up the lights too, because if a third of the house suddenly got up and rushed out, I would assume it was due to some sort of danger, not because an actor said the word “fuck.” Whatever it was, it would probably benefit everyone to be able to see, and the performance would have to be stopped anyway due to whatever dangerous situation existed. But if the booth was open to the house and I could hear some sort of rumblings of complaints about the material and had a good idea of why they were leaving, they would get no help from me in finding their way out, and I would not turn on the house lights unless told to do so by the house manager or the performer himself. So if this get-up-and-walk-out thing was as sudden as it appears to have been, I’m going to say the stage manager had no idea what was happening, and probably assumed there was a good reason to bring up the house lights immediately.