Archive for category Slow Food

Heart, Head & Hands: Food/Theater/Community Part 2

by Candelaria Silva-Collins, copyright 2011

The audience is there, we just have to build it.  I will share a few ways that I have built appreciators In both my dedication to home-cooking/breaking bread with others and in bringing people to theater.

Invite people – consistently, frequently, in a variety of ways.

I invite people to meals cooked by me at my home regularly.  A lot of the invitees have been surprised because they are not my friends, they are acquaintances.  Nearly everyone comes.

I never go to theater without a companion – from performances at Huntington Theatre, by Company One, Wheelock Family Theatre, Speak Easy Stage Company  and the African-American Theatre Festival (to name but a few) – I bring someone with me.

Inform people

I share recipes and theatre reviews & information both informally through emails and more formally through blog posts.  If I like something, if I find something provocative or interesting, I share it.

Throw the net widely/reach beyond usual comfort zone

When I was Director of ACT Roxbury, I informed broad networks of people about our events.  I didn’t presume to know who would or would not be interested in our events and initiatives.  I didn’t let geography hamper me.  So I invited Roxbury residents, residents of surrounding communities and people in the metropolitan area.  I participated in the Multicultural Committee of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to inform visitors about the plays we produced and the Roxbury Film Festival, for example.

Organizations like StageSource, Underground Railway Theater, and Bank of America Celebrity Series were open enough to have events at Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall, coming outside of their usual territory to meet the audiences we attracted.  Similarly, we hosted events featuring Roxbury-based artists in other communities including National Heritage Museum (Lexington) and Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (Boston seaport).

Collaborate

There is strength and expanded capacity in collaborating with other organizations on joint projects and in promoting each other’s events.  No organization is ever the only game in town.  No organization ever has an exclusive hold on or right to an audience.  People like variety, choice and to try new theater and food on for size.  We have to make it as effortless as possible for this to happen.

Educate and Nurture Future Audiences

Exposing children to well-prepared food and excellent theater prepares them to get hooked on these kinds of experiences.  We have to create future audiences and artists by going into the schools and community centers where young people are.

And don’t forget adults. Go to where adults are – community organizations, churches, gathering spots like restaurants, hair salons, and the Super Stop & Shop in the South Bay Mall, for example.  There are communities of seniors who would relish the opportunity to attend theater. (I work with Door2Door to the Arts to bring senior citizens to arts and cultural events using the vans that were previously mainly used to transport them to doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping.  In one year, we have brought seniors to nearly 50 events!)

Affordability/Marketing

In addition to the pay-what-you-can performances, ticket give-ways, discounts to community organizations, and ticket discounts through Bostix, we need to empower venues and staff to aggressively market unsold seats in the moment.

We need to pretend that no one knows who we are and what we do and inform them through public theater in places like South Station and Copley Square.

Food and theater connect people in a world where many people are becoming more comfortable with the remotely connecting through electronic portals than face-to-face. We all need food, we all need art in real time and actual space.

Holla!

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Heart, Head & Hands: Food/Theater/Community Part 1

by Candelaria Silva-Collins, copyright 2011

A good meal, like a good play, requires the best ingredients no matter how straight-forward or complex it is.  As an appreciator of live theater and home-cooked, food, I see the connection between these two life-affirming, life-sustaining entities.

Food, slow food, lovingly home-cooked (and locally source when possible) requires a lot of collaborative efforts.  I cook with the memories, cooking lessons, and history of meals tasted and meals cooked coursing through my hands. I learned to cook by being in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother.  I refined those lessons through pouring over cook-books, recipes, cooking shows and videos.  I count on the farmers and their staff, the grocery stores and farmer’s markets to bring that food to me.  I rely on the hungry mouths of children, husband, friends and family to appreciate my artistry.  My cooking means nothing without appreciative (or even just hungry) mouths to eat it.  There has often been theatricality in the rooms where I’ve dined, especially with family.

Theater, too, is a collaborative art.  It springs from the imagination of the playwright and all of those who nurtured a love for language and stories in that playwrights’ mind.  The playwright needs the director and stage manager and crew and the actors, of course, the actors who are the spice and heat and utensils that bring the play to life.  An unseen play is an empty vessel indeed.  Theater needs audiences to experience, appreciate (or denigrate) the food it provides.

Meals and theater spring from, reinforce and invigorate community.  Food is sustenance, a necessity that can be elevated to an art and is most special when delivered with love.  Theater is sustenance, necessary to souls and intellect.  Both are repositories of history and hope and visions for the future.

Great food and theater are cultural mirrors that yearn beyond the particular to achieving universality.

In this age of multiple appointments, rushing and busyness, quick food and quick entertainment have more adherents, it seems, then slow food and real theater. Yet there has always been and will continue to be a desire for food and theater that have been well-crafted.  This desire is not just the province of afficiandos  – it is bubbling throughout society.

About the author:

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a Facillitator, Consultant, and writer living in Boston, MA.  Follow Candelaria’s blog  Good and Plenty or visit her website www.candelariasilva.com .

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Slow food and slow theatre: metaphors and rethinking audience’s role.

By Anita Lauricella

I sometimes think we approach developing audiences in the way some of us were taught to eat our vegetables.  The issuance of a rather stern “eat the broccoli its good for you” married to an assumption that this knowledge would make me want to “friend” broccoli.   In theatre we develop friends and work on “education” through talk backs, reviews and program notes with a similar faith. We build opportunities that assume that if you only understood why this is wonderful you would come back and bring your friends.

The Slow Food movement has moved past this one dimensional approach to encouraging an appreciation of food.  Education, appreciation and connoisseurship are key aspects of the slow food movement.  But what is interesting to me is the message that says it is important to know how the food got to the market.  The slow food movement stresses demystifying the food production process.  They want us to know where and how the food was grown and how it got to the food stand or grocer.  Not only do they want us to know; they spend time developing a compelling narrative.  I buy local because the story of factory farms disgusts me and the story of the local farmer down the street is so compelling.

If the local audience can look behind the curtain and into a theater’s “production” process will they value and appreciate the performance?  I think I do feel more intrigued when I have been given a “back stage” view.   I appreciate a peep at the creative process and wonder if this feeling is shared by other audience members? For me this taste is the impetus for learning more; staying for a talk back or checking out a review.   A colleague tasked with developing some supporting educational panels was invited to attend and comment on rehearsals.  She loved it, but was it too much?  Did her knowledge of the director’s intent or the actors’ trials ruin the mystery that is part of the theatre experience?   Not in this case but maybe sometime; currently I know more than enough about Spiderman.

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The Boston Theatre Conference, what’s it all about

This February welcomes the return of the Boston Theatre Conference.  The 2011 Conference, Home Grown investigates the parallels between the Slow Food Movement (http://www.slowfoodusa.org) and a Slow Arts Movement.  What do we mean when we say Slow Food?  We mean; local, sustainable, lively, fresh and lush.  Slow Food is a way of living and a way of eating where taste and appreciation for locally grown food is cultivated.   This year’s conference is an opportunity for us to start the conversation and to strategize about what a Slow Arts Movement is, how we create the environment for this shift and what elements from Slow Food we should look at in building our own campaign.  Artists from many of the area’s most vibrant companies will be on hand to talk about the advantages of supporting local theatre. This is an opportunity for you the theatre lover to speak to them about their companies, the type of work they do, what their missions are and the why and the how they support local. Pop-up performances will be peppered throughout each day so that attendees may sample the neighborhood fare.

Scheduled to speak is area restaurateur Barbara Lynch whose ventures include No. 9 Park, B&G Oysters, and The Butcher Shop.  Ms. Lynch will speak about Slow Food in Boston and how it has changed the attitudes of both the producers and consumers towards supporting local food.  The Huntington Theatre Company’s Michael Maso will talk about the changes he has witnessed in Boston Theatre over the years.  Attendees will be able to participate in workshops ranging from the ins and outs of a portfolio career to what we can learn from community theatre.  We’ll spend the rest of the conference examining how to put the tenants of Slow Food into practice.

In the past conference attendees have skewed towards theatre practitioners, and often those at a mid point in their careers, but the Boston Theatre Conference is for everyone.  Slow Food calls for consumers to be participants, to act as co-producers.  This is our call to you.  Anyone who loves theatre, or is interested in theatre is encouraged to attend.  We’ve begun a blog (https://bostontheatreconference.wordpress.com/ ) to start the dialogue before February’s event.  Visit the blog weekly and “like” us on Facebook to keep up with the conversation online.  Watch for the twitter hashtag #BTC11, in the StageSourceBos twitter feed.  When you have an idea, contact us.  You voice should be heard, and we’d love you to be a guest blogger.  Speak with your friends and colleagues about the issues and ideas presented ahead of the meeting, and come ready to join the conversation in February.

Now is the time for all of us to get involved and come to the conference buzzing with ideas and inspiration.  They key to the Boston Theatre Conference’s success is engagement.  We hope you’ll join us on-line now and in person in February.

Tickets to Home Grown: The Boston Theatre Conference 2011, are available at www.stagesource.org.  Click on the Programs and Events link on the menu bar and look for Home Grown.

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How movements are created

Have you checked out the videos we posted of Diane Ragsdale speaking about “Slow Arts”?  If not check them out and come back to this video.

For those of you who have been following the videos, this final clip talks about How we start a Slow Arts movement by:

  • Increasing Demand
  • Increasing Appreciation
  • Helping an entire community or the individuals in a community to develop their capacities to more meaningfully engage with art

Those are just the starters.  It’s not an overnight process.  It will require more than one organization to make it happen.

Do these ideas work for Boston?  How should we frame the conversation for our sector’s unique needs?  Watch the video(s) share your thoughts and join us in February.

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TPFNAA or The People Formerly Known As Audience

We all talk about audience development. Do we need to rethink the term?  Not development. Audience.

Katya Andresen of Network for Good recently wrote an entry about audience on her blog Getting to the Point.

The Slow Food movement asks farmers to look at the people who purchase food not as consumers but as co-producers.  A co-producer being a person who shares in the experience of creating the food.    How can we as theatre professionals take the same approach to the people we call audience?

The following is an excerpt from Ms. Andresen’s blog talking about, “the new audience”.

The People Formerly Known as The Audience

Originally posted on Getting to the Point ,Wed, October 27, 2010

As I’ve blogged before, “audience” is an antiquated word in a time where people no longer passively consume information.  I’ve been trying to figure out what to call an audience (which is not an audience at all) in this day and age.

Clay Shirky’s highly recommended new book, Cognitive Surplus, cites NYU’s Jay Rosen’s phrase: “The People Formerly Known as the Audience.”  I like it.

Here’s what I think about The People Formerly Known as the Audience…

1. Don’t want to listen to us, they want to speak.

2. Don’t want to passively receive information; they want to interact.

3. Don’t want to consume content; they want to create it.

We should think of ourselves not as mere nonprofit marketing professionals but as listeners, engagers and participants. The more WE are the audience to THEM, the better.

So now it’s your turn!  TPFNAA, talk to us.  Tell us how you’d like to be referred to.  Tell us how you like to participate in theatre!  We’re listening and we’d like to hear from you!

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