I’m nobody! Who are you?


I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
~Emily Dickinson

I am Michael Kaiser’s nightmare.

I don’t have an MA, MFA, BFA, JD, MD, DDS, P.E. CPA, MSCE, or HVAC.

And yet I have opinions.

Opinions unformed by the cultural canon Mr. Kaiser has professed in the past. The Canon of his Youth. Not just a dead white male canon, but the dead white male canon of his specific formative years.

Opinions I foist on a range of professional, semi-professional, and amateur theatre makers as though I had some right to their ears.

Opinions shared as though, uninformed as they are by Higher Higher Education, I feel them to be correct and will sometimes publicly defend them, even when attacked by ‘names’, or the statused.

And isn’t that the magic of now?
I get to share my opinions freely without land or title, and Michael Kaiser gets to blandly disapprove of the notion of me.

The ‘democratization of the press’ isn’t democratization of publication, push-button publication has been available for two decades. The revolution is squarely in the democratization of audience attention.

Mr. Kaiser is correct in that we need professional reporting on and contextualization of our field. He is desperately wrong in that more sources, more voices increase, not decrease, the the clarity of the picture we get. Even ‘biased’ sources, or unprofessional sources increase the quality of the picture we get from any given event or production. Because we’re smart people who can read and think critically and detect biases. 

I need your help to make sure Mr. Kaiser stays wrong. You may have a proper alphabet listed after your name on the stationary, you may not, but it’s your theatre citizenship that’s going to make the most impact on a community and make sure that the Commons is heard from. Promise. If you don’t want money/resources to be the primary determiner of who gets to speak? Engage.

Keep Reading
Read as much as you can. Old school print criticism. Blogs. Long form, short form. Read things that challenge you, read things that make you feel better. But Read.

Keep Reading Critically
The fact that someone agrees with you doesn’t make them a good writer. More importantly? Someone agreeing with you doesn’t make either of you right. You know what good writing is which means you know what bad writing is. Stop rewarding bad writing just because you agree with it. And then think about what it is you have read. Is it affecting your thinking at all? How?

Keep Writing
You have opinions about things in your world /country / region / city / town / village/ hamlet / Prince William Sound and your opinions matter. Respond to these things simply to have a record for yourself of having felt and thought that way, but also? You never ever know who’s reading.

Keep Writing Better Every Day 
I know you thought your English teacher was shining you on when she said you needed writing in every facet of your life. She wasn’t. Write as much as you can and grant writing will get easier. Newsletters will get easier. E-blasts will get easier. I couldn’t locate the writing muscle for you on a chart but it is real, and it needs exercise. 

See Theatre
You can’t know what you’re talking about unless you are participating. This is part of participating.

Remember, that microphone is live.
I have people approach me from time to time to raise issues for them. While I am often glad to, the thing is? Their voice will never get stronger if they borrow mine. Your blog, your Twitter account, your YouTube channel is no better or worse positioned than anyone else’s. Create content people want to amplify and others come find the source.

The magic of now is exactly that everyone is a critic. Everyone has a voice. We’re all nobodies together and the words can speak for themselves. More. And better. And More.

  • November 14, 2011
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