|Carole and Dave...Dave and Carole...where's the other guy?|
Here’s the thing…a lot of people don’t like to go to the opera.
It’s true. It’s sad. Opera is great. So is ballet. So is theatre. So is dance.
But so are cheeseburgers, and if I were a betting man, I would bet the over on the over-under that cheeseburgers are more of a sure bet for universal appeal than any of the aforementioned art forms that are absolutely inherently better for you.
I had the occasion to listen to Dave and Carole’s Boring Wisconsin podcast, and though I don’t agree with Carole’s experience of going to the unnamed opera company (she didn’t like it…maybe you are not surprised), I’d like to point out that I don’t like going to Packer’s games. There, throw stones.
I’m a stormy-weather writer when it comes to poking the arts dragon, I will admit it. Anyone who doesn’t like what I am about to write can I fairly call me insignificant for not continuing to lend a voice to the artistic plight in Milwaukee over the past few years. I’ve thrown in when things have gotten heated, when things have gotten contentious, and the artistic juices have been ramped up. I freely and openly take all tomatoes thrown my way for saying that Dave and Carole and that other guy they have on their show (sorry, I forget his name, but maybe I’d recall it if there were things he said I cared about) are really nothing to concern ourselves with in terms of artistic promotion.
Have we asked Dave and Carole to be the Milwaukee arbiters of taste and culture? Did I miss their appointments as cultural czars to the city? Have I also somehow been unaware of the copious amounts of advertising dollars poured into their station by local arts groups?
I think what stirs us all up…and trust me, it deeply stirs me having recently been reminded of the complete and utter awesomeness of the arts with a blessed opportunity to temporarily rejoin the ranks of the merry theatre makers as a stage director…is that not everyone likes what we do. That’s hard to take. It was also hard to take the fact that not every girl I asked on a date in my teens and 20s said “Yes!” Eventually, however, I found a great woman who is perfect for me because she pushes me to be better, knows how to argue with me, and won’t let me ever rest on my laurels. It aint’ easy, but it’s always worth it, and if we acknowledge that Dave and Carole and that other guy have just cock-blocked the fine arts community, maybe its time to look for someone with a better ass.
A great friend of mine recently visited me over the summer, and she discovered a theatre trade magazine from the 1950s in a trip to an antique store. Prior to that discovery she had been talking to me about an ongoing discussion she has with another friend of ours in the arts that always centers on “how to fix theatre.” She kind of smirked as she showed me the magazine copy saying, “You how things used to be so great in the arts back in the day? It’s all a lie—they complained about all the same shit in this magazine.”
Dave and Carole and that other guy are not really the enemy. The enemy is revealed in the fact that some of what we do can still be referenced in an antique store. The real heroes of the arts, those who go into work everyday and believe that everyone should be a supporter, aren’t wrong, I just think they might be sometimes too close to the point that they are missing it.
We’ll always need to think about new ways to captivate our audiences. That’s something that causes us to be out of our comfort zone and think in new creative ways. Innovation is messy and hard. Perhaps because we who work in the arts either on a regular or time-to-time basis are accustomed to being uncomfortable because of a lack of money, resources and competition from entities that have found great ways of appealing to a greater lowest common denominator audience, it is difficult to feel uncomfortable because someone expresses boredom over our life’s work.
That all sucks of course, and it is just plain human nature to want to be loved by all. But I’ve been plenty bored by lots of plays in my life (even ones I’ve directed or acted in), ready to chew my arm off at an opera or dance concert or two, and wanted to stick pins in my eyes at several concerts I’ve seen. Yet, and I don’t think I’m alone in having those experiences and feeling the way I do, I love all the arts fine, unrefined and raw as they may be.
Let us also not overlook the fact that Dave, one of the culprits accused in this post, says at about 8:19 in, “I like going to shows, plays, concerts…it depends…” What more can we ask of anyone? It does depend, it always should, but at the same time it should never diminish the pride all artists should have in their work.
Carry on…good work comes from those who never wait.