Over on the Dog Days blog at Arts Journal Dalouge Smith writes about Comic-Con, popular arts and theatre. It really got me thinking.
It’s easy to scorn labels like popular arts and events like comic-con. I fully admit to it. It’s easy to be a theatre snob and look down on people who dress up like Star Wars characters. What is popular arts anyway? What is popular? Isn’t television popular arts? Comic-con is not an arts event. Blah, blah, blah, scorn, scorn, scorn, snob, snob, snob.
But here’s the thing. Smith notes three elements that define Comic-con as an arts event:
- Celebration of the artists and creators.
- Access to the artists and creators.
- Fans are full participants.
These are definitely the things that the arts should do. All arts. Connect. Create a community. Create an experience. Is there any more extreme of an experience for an audience member than dressing up as a favourite character and then getting to meet the creator of that character? What would going to Shakespeare be like if everyone dressed up? How would that change the experience? What if we celebrated that experience, found joy in that experience instead of making it like going to the dentist (you know who you are who makes Shakespeare like going to the dentist).
I think about how many plays I’ve seen lately that give me no experience. It’s there and it’s gone. There is no celebration and not one audience member thought to participate in the process, including me. I think about how many plays I had no joy for, before I even got to the theatre. I’m betting there’s not one participant of Comic-con who had that kind of experience at their event.
Theatre is different than comics. Fair enough. It’s childish to dress up like characters. Maybe.
So how can theatre create those same elements of connection and participation?