08 May 2009

Face to Face



Curious side effect of my acceptance into the Cult of Facebook: I believe it has affected the readership of this here 'blog here. Unfortunately, I am not computer-savvy enough to figure out how to quantify that change. I do know that the readership growth (growth in this context being a very, very relative term) for Odin's Aviary has slowed over the past year, though I attribute that more to Google Reader and RSS feeds than anything related to Facebook. No, the more interesting change -- more interesting by far -- is how many people are now reading my thoughts who haven't been privy to them for five, ten, and in a few cases even twenty years. I could no doubt increase this number by "tagging" friends for each entry, were it not that I'm pretty lucky to get as many posts published as I do with the time I have, anyway. The point is that my audience has had an intersting development in quality lately, in spite of a seeming falling-off in quantity.

Now, I'm not trying to imply that people I already know who read my 'blog are in some way better than them what don't. By "quality," I mean the overall identity of my audience. (An "overall identity" is a pretty interesting-slash-meaningless concept, but you get what I mean. I hope.) When I first started doing shows in New York -- which is as much as to say, when I started being a true professional actor -- I quickly became fascinated with the relationship between audience and creator. This fascination existed in a very immediate sense, not some theoretical or academic speculation, and it continues for me today. Just who are these people who are coming out to engage in theatre? And, perhaps more interestingly, who are the ones that no one on the production side knows, and what do they come seeking? Odds are, when you're sitting in the audience of an off-off-Broadway show, most everyone around you knows somebody involved in some respect (so watch what you say) but there are always at least a handful who don't, who are there for an evening's entertainment, or for something they don't even know yet. Maybe this isn't as curious as I find it; after all, in big productions all sorts of strange people are filling the 1000+ seats and looking for something other than seeing their friend on stage. Still -- to my audiences -- who are you, really?

So both are interesting, friends and strangers. Hello. Welcome. Try not to rely on this 'blog for too many of those promised fart jokes.

Wife Megan and I have had several conversations lately about people we feel we know who don't know us -- Neil Gaiman, mostly. It's a very Gaiman-y season. I recently re-read American Gods (and I rarely re-read books) and rented Beowulf. I just read and loved his two-shot Batman comic "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?", we're seeing the musical adaptation of Coraline this Sunday and seeing the man himself at a talk at Used Housing Works Bookstore in the latter half of the month. May is positively Gaiman-esque. And it's funny, because we both feel awfully close to the man, and he has no idea about us. Really, we have no idea about him, personally. It's just that his writing has influenced us so, kept us company, driven away boredom and provoked thought and emotion in us, that, well . . . it's hard not to want to make the man breakfast the next morning. Oh, you're up! How do you like your eggs, American Gods? I have cleaned and pressed your trenchcoat, Anansi Boys. Please, Fragile Things, don't bother about the bed. I need to change the sheets anyway.

Yes; I acknowledge that analogy as just this side of creepy. Alright: Way over here with me in downtown Creepyburg.

What does this have to do with showcases presented in under-99-seat theatres, or a 'blog that gets in just over 50 hits on a good day? I suppose what I take from it is that we extend farther than we may be aware, we influence more, touch (perhaps at times inappropriately) many more lives than can be evident, even with the aid of all things TwitterFaceSpace. It's a reminder I value. It reminds me, in fact, of a big reason for doing this stuff -- all this exploring, communicating, connective stuff -- in the first place. Because it matters, to people we know and those we have yet to meet.

2 comments:

Patrick said...

As you know, Gaiman occupies a similar place in my life, as evidenced by the fact that I don't find your analogy remotely creepy. I'm on record as being willing to provide Gaiman with any sexual favors he wants, if it meant I got to work with him, after all (though damn the luck, he's straight). It's definitely weird feeling so attached to someone who doesn't know I exist, and who I really only know from his/her work, but you're right, it's also a good reminder that we can't always know how wide-spread our own influence may be. Generally I think about this only in the butterfly effect, the it's-all-random-and-unpredictable way, but it's encouraging to think that our actions may have more direct and beneficial outcomes than that.

Jeff Wills said...

Just so, Patrick. Sometimes the idea of mere abstract cause-and-effect is enough for me, but sometimes, it ain't. Hence my love of having an audience, methinks.