A friend, a professional actor and improviser, opined today that people don’t want to hear about Trump when they go to see her perform.
She said, “I have been working live my whole life and I have never lived through a time when the audience tenses up or just sort of sags if you say Trump’s name. I couldn’t figure out why. We certainly all never stop talking about it in reality. But on stage. No. They are out to get the fuck away from all that.”
She said that audiences don’t want to go to a show and rehash what they watch all day on MSNBC and share with each other in (my words) anxious conversation, or suffer anxiously alone.
I made the following comment in response (with a few additions here):
I just write about what interests me — or more precisely what comes up. I don’t choose what I write about it. It chooses me. I don’t think about what interests the audience. I don’t care. I figure the people that want to read it will read it and those who don’t won’t. I also think you can go deeper on any topic and say something worthwhile. I try to never just comment on the level of a cable TV pundit. I am looking for connections, metaphors, trends … if I label something #commentary I might get a little more toward opinion — but I am going for more than opinion — I am stating my truth. The process involves more than stating a rational point of view. It’s much more personal and experiential than that.
I write directly about Trump a lot less than I used to — but if I want to I do.
But I don’t do what some in my audience do — which is entertain professionally. So I know they have to care about audience response by definition. Graham Greene used to write his serious literary pieces, and also do what he called his “entertainments.”
So maybe, the entertainers who read me could do what they know audiences want and create a separate space for what they really want to say?
An “art” audience and an “entertainment” audience are obtained in different ways. I used to have an entertainment orientation and I found it important to maintain my voice. I offer this humbly — I don’t know if it is helpful to those to whom it applies. There are other choices available, I think …
Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas