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没有人看演出了,剧院该如何活下去?

没有人看演出了,剧院该如何活下去?

Mark Blankenship 2020年06月21日
为了在疫情中生存下来,剧院行业的从业者尝试创建一系列与观众互动的新渠道。

在新冠疫情隔离期间,美国剧院的崩溃令人惨不忍睹,但从另一个角度来看,这并不意外。

在今年春季以前,整个行业都有赖于“稀缺经济”。我和剧院行业的其他艺人都知道,影视有一定的文化优势,因为它们可以无处不在,任何人都能消费,而我们的工作其精华就在于其短暂性。我们只在特定的时间给特定数量的观众表演。观众买票在指定的日期到偏僻的场地,观看特定的演员当天的表演。这个行业的规则导致我们的表演很难甚至根本不可能被录制下来。我们花了很长时间才确认,我们的作品有着神圣的价值,因为这种近距离表演的神奇之处是大部分人所体会不到的。

我们这样想并不是完全错误的。实际上,剧院表演不可重复的“实时性”能够让人兴奋。就我自己而言,这种表演形式经常让我产生一种如同宗教般的敬畏之心。但在某种程度上,我和同事都知道,我们可能在以剧院表演的短暂性为借口,选择性地为观众提供作品,如同销售奢侈品一般。

我们并没有因此沾沾自喜。我们曾经多次开会讨论,有时会做一点点改变,降低有限门票的价格,或者使我们场次有限的演出有机会登上电视屏幕。但在多数情况下,我们只是会稍作调整。剧院表演依赖于人们与我们共处一室这种难得的机会。

所以它根本承受不住居家隔离的冲击。剧院表演的稀缺性有无限的潜力,我们因为笃信这种观点而忽视了发生大灾难的可能性,如今,我们面临着一个生死攸关的问题:作为剧院艺人意味着我们表演的时候需要与大量观众同处一室,但在隔离期间,我们该如何继续从事这份职业?

但假如这个问题本身存在漏洞呢?即使没有了传统舞台,如果我们依旧能与观众保持剧院特有的关系呢(更不用说我们的表演形式了)?即便剧院不开放,如果我们依旧可以演出呢?

这并不是否认在观众面前实况演出是剧院表演这种艺术形式的基础。它当然是,并且未来也始终会是剧院行业的根本表演形式。因为演出的时候有观众在现场,是一种有力的交流方式。但即使我们承认舞台的核心地位,剧院行业的从业者依旧可以创建一系列与观众互动的渠道。

过去三个月,我们就不得不这样做,而且我们创作的诸多项目效果令人惊讶。我们创作和表演了直播剧目;在线上发布了之前的作品;创建了虚拟交易平台以支持艺人;而且我们把获奖的剧院节目大胆地搬上了荧幕。人们有时候会付费观看,有时候不会。表演的效果有时候很好,有时候……还有待提高。但无论如何,这种演出与影视节目相比给人一种不同的感觉。似乎剧院在另外一个平台上找到了自己存在的意义。

比如迈克·乌里最近直播的剧目《买家与地窖》(Buyer & Cellar)或者公共剧院(Public Theater)最近在线上播出的剧目《喋喋人生》(What Do We Need to Talk About?)。理查德·尼尔森创作这部剧就是为了在Zoom上播出。这些作品都有“现场感”,都有即兴表演的成分。虽然这些作品没有像我们喜欢的那样观众和演员在同一个场地,但它们“剧院”的风格依旧明显。

我们还可以进行哪些尝试?不止在线上,在其他许多情况下,如果出了剧院,我们如何证明自己是剧院艺人?有些人可能从来没有在只有99个座位的剧场内观看过场次有限的演出,我们如何打动这些观众?我们如何用在舞台上的方法与这些观众建立联系?我们如何抓住剧院临时关闭的机会,在演员与观众之间架起起沟通的桥梁?

我为《The Flashpaper:剧院行业对当前现状的思考》(The Flashpaper: Theatre’s Thoughts on Right Now)编辑的文章让我茅塞顿开。《The Flashpaper》是我创建的一份纸质版期刊,从本周正式发行。剧院艺人们可以选择使用任何风格,在这本期刊上对当前的时事发表评论。《The Flashpaper》还为艺人提供了一笔被动收入,不受其是否正在创作剧目或者是否在剧院演出的影响。无论何时何地,这本期刊每卖出一本,都会给艺人们公平支付报酬。

感谢各位撰稿人的付出,第一期《The Flashpaper》也变成了大家讨论剧院行业对于旧制度如何去芜存菁的论坛。撰稿人的投稿从原创剧目到评论文章再到手绘漫画五花八门,他们在提醒我们,我们一直都有能力通过不同方式、不同途径和用不同的观点,去吸引观众。

我们不能忘记这一点。我们也不能重走老路,因为没有一个像剧院这样迅速崩溃的行业,能够顺利重启。对此,我们不需要绝望,至少不能只是绝望。我们有机会重新思考到底什么才是剧院,它对于剧院艺人意味着什么,以及剧院能够吸引哪些观众。我们有机会放弃我们视若珍宝的稀缺性,改为持续推出大量受人欢迎的好作品。(财富中文网)

本文作者马克·布兰肯希普是一位剧院记者、编辑和播客。他是《The Flashpaper:剧院行业对当前现状的思考》的创始人兼编辑。

译者:Biz

在新冠疫情隔离期间,美国剧院的崩溃令人惨不忍睹,但从另一个角度来看,这并不意外。

在今年春季以前,整个行业都有赖于“稀缺经济”。我和剧院行业的其他艺人都知道,影视有一定的文化优势,因为它们可以无处不在,任何人都能消费,而我们的工作其精华就在于其短暂性。我们只在特定的时间给特定数量的观众表演。观众买票在指定的日期到偏僻的场地,观看特定的演员当天的表演。这个行业的规则导致我们的表演很难甚至根本不可能被录制下来。我们花了很长时间才确认,我们的作品有着神圣的价值,因为这种近距离表演的神奇之处是大部分人所体会不到的。

我们这样想并不是完全错误的。实际上,剧院表演不可重复的“实时性”能够让人兴奋。就我自己而言,这种表演形式经常让我产生一种如同宗教般的敬畏之心。但在某种程度上,我和同事都知道,我们可能在以剧院表演的短暂性为借口,选择性地为观众提供作品,如同销售奢侈品一般。

我们并没有因此沾沾自喜。我们曾经多次开会讨论,有时会做一点点改变,降低有限门票的价格,或者使我们场次有限的演出有机会登上电视屏幕。但在多数情况下,我们只是会稍作调整。剧院表演依赖于人们与我们共处一室这种难得的机会。

所以它根本承受不住居家隔离的冲击。剧院表演的稀缺性有无限的潜力,我们因为笃信这种观点而忽视了发生大灾难的可能性,如今,我们面临着一个生死攸关的问题:作为剧院艺人意味着我们表演的时候需要与大量观众同处一室,但在隔离期间,我们该如何继续从事这份职业?

但假如这个问题本身存在漏洞呢?即使没有了传统舞台,如果我们依旧能与观众保持剧院特有的关系呢(更不用说我们的表演形式了)?即便剧院不开放,如果我们依旧可以演出呢?

这并不是否认在观众面前实况演出是剧院表演这种艺术形式的基础。它当然是,并且未来也始终会是剧院行业的根本表演形式。因为演出的时候有观众在现场,是一种有力的交流方式。但即使我们承认舞台的核心地位,剧院行业的从业者依旧可以创建一系列与观众互动的渠道。

过去三个月,我们就不得不这样做,而且我们创作的诸多项目效果令人惊讶。我们创作和表演了直播剧目;在线上发布了之前的作品;创建了虚拟交易平台以支持艺人;而且我们把获奖的剧院节目大胆地搬上了荧幕。人们有时候会付费观看,有时候不会。表演的效果有时候很好,有时候……还有待提高。但无论如何,这种演出与影视节目相比给人一种不同的感觉。似乎剧院在另外一个平台上找到了自己存在的意义。

比如迈克·乌里最近直播的剧目《买家与地窖》(Buyer & Cellar)或者公共剧院(Public Theater)最近在线上播出的剧目《喋喋人生》(What Do We Need to Talk About?)。理查德·尼尔森创作这部剧就是为了在Zoom上播出。这些作品都有“现场感”,都有即兴表演的成分。虽然这些作品没有像我们喜欢的那样观众和演员在同一个场地,但它们“剧院”的风格依旧明显。

我们还可以进行哪些尝试?不止在线上,在其他许多情况下,如果出了剧院,我们如何证明自己是剧院艺人?有些人可能从来没有在只有99个座位的剧场内观看过场次有限的演出,我们如何打动这些观众?我们如何用在舞台上的方法与这些观众建立联系?我们如何抓住剧院临时关闭的机会,在演员与观众之间架起起沟通的桥梁?

我为《The Flashpaper:剧院行业对当前现状的思考》(The Flashpaper: Theatre’s Thoughts on Right Now)编辑的文章让我茅塞顿开。《The Flashpaper》是我创建的一份纸质版期刊,从本周正式发行。剧院艺人们可以选择使用任何风格,在这本期刊上对当前的时事发表评论。《The Flashpaper》还为艺人提供了一笔被动收入,不受其是否正在创作剧目或者是否在剧院演出的影响。无论何时何地,这本期刊每卖出一本,都会给艺人们公平支付报酬。

感谢各位撰稿人的付出,第一期《The Flashpaper》也变成了大家讨论剧院行业对于旧制度如何去芜存菁的论坛。撰稿人的投稿从原创剧目到评论文章再到手绘漫画五花八门,他们在提醒我们,我们一直都有能力通过不同方式、不同途径和用不同的观点,去吸引观众。

我们不能忘记这一点。我们也不能重走老路,因为没有一个像剧院这样迅速崩溃的行业,能够顺利重启。对此,我们不需要绝望,至少不能只是绝望。我们有机会重新思考到底什么才是剧院,它对于剧院艺人意味着什么,以及剧院能够吸引哪些观众。我们有机会放弃我们视若珍宝的稀缺性,改为持续推出大量受人欢迎的好作品。(财富中文网)

本文作者马克·布兰肯希普是一位剧院记者、编辑和播客。他是《The Flashpaper:剧院行业对当前现状的思考》的创始人兼编辑。

译者:Biz

It was devastating to see how quickly the American theater collapsed in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine—and I say this as someone who lost both my jobs by March 24—but from a certain perspective it wasn’t exactly surprising.

Until this spring, our entire industry was built on an economy of scarcity. My fellow theater artists and I knew that movies and TV had a certain cultural advantage because they were available everywhere and to everyone, but we argued the essence of our work was in its fundamental ephemerality. Our performances happened only a certain number of times for the select number of people who could both get a ticket and travel to the lone venue where that particular cast was appearing on that particular day. We enacted rules that made it difficult or even impossible for our work to be recorded. We spent a lot of time affirming that productions gained an almost sacred worth because the intimate magic they created was unavailable to most people.

We weren’t entirely wrong. The unrepeatable “liveness” of the theater can indeed be exhilarating, and speaking for myself, it has often created an almost religious awe. But on some level my colleagues and I knew that we could use that ephemerality as an excuse to make our work as selectively accessible as a luxury good.

We didn’t feel great about that. We had many, many conferences about it, and every now and then we’d shake things up a little so that our limited tickets were less expensive or our limited runs were indeed able to appear on TV. But mostly we were just tweaking a system that relied on the elusive opportunity for people to share rooms with us.

And that system could not withstand quarantine. By banking on the limitless potential of scarcity, we allowed ourselves to ignore the potential for catastrophe, and now we find ourselves asking an existential question: How can we still be theater artists, since being theater artists means being live in a room with just a few other people?

But what if that question is flawed? What if our relationship to our audience—not to mention the expression of our craft—can still be inherently theatrical, even if we’re not on a traditional stage? What if we’re still theater people, even without the theater?

That’s not to say that a live performance with a live audience isn’t the bedrock of our art form. Of course it is. It always will be, since being in the room with the art creates such a potent form of communion. But even if we agree that we will always put the stage in the center, theater professionals can still allow ourselves to offer a continuum of access points.

The last three months have forced us to do that, and the range of projects we’ve created is astonishing. Live-streamed plays are being written and performed; older productions are being released online; virtual marketplaces are being created to support artists; and theater award shows are gamely moving to screens. Sometimes people pay for this content, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s great, and sometimes it’s…on its way to greatness. But no matter what, it doesn’t feel like TV or movies. It feels like theater, learning to make sense of itself on another platform.

Just look at the recent live stream of Michael Urie performing the play Buyer & Cellar, or the Public Theater’s online production of the play What Do We Need to Talk About?, which Richard Nelson explicitly wrote to be performed on Zoom. These pieces had “liveness.” They had spontaneity. And while they lacked certain things we can rightfully love about sharing space with performers, they still felt “theatrical.”

What else can we experiment with? Not just online, but in a variety of ways, how can we assert ourselves as theater artists outside the theater? How can we reach audiences who might never make it into our limited-run show in a 99-seat venue, and how can we then link that encounter with what we do onstage? How can we use the temporary absence of theaters as an opportunity to build bridges back to them?

I’ve been awakened to the possibilities by the pieces I’ve edited for The Flashpaper: Theatre’s Thoughts on Right Now. That’s the print-only journal I founded, which launches this week as a way to let theater artists respond to urgent current events, using any genre they choose. The Flashpaper also provides these artists a passive income stream that isn’t tied to having a show in production or even having access to a theater. They are all equally compensated for every issue sold, no matter when or where it is purchased.

Thanks to the contributors, the first issue of The Flashpaper is also a forum on how the industry can dismantle the worst parts of the old system and reinvigorate the best. With everything from original plays to manifestos to hand-drawn comics, they remind us that we have always had the capacity to reach people in multiple ways, through multiple channels, and with multiple points of view.

We can’t allow ourselves to forget that. We can’t allow ourselves to go back to the way it was before, because no industry that imploded as quickly as ours did was ever that stable to begin with. We don’t need to despair about that, or at least not only despair. We have the opportunity to reevaluate what theater is, what it means to be theater artists, and who it is that theater can reach. We have a chance to replace our sanctified scarcity with a sustainable and welcoming abundance.

Mark Blankenship is a theater journalist, editor, and podcaster. He is the founder and editor of The Flashpaper: Theatre’s Thoughts on Right Now.

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