This post about Geek Theater made it to Flux Theatre Ensemble's Facebook Wall, so naturally I gave it a read because any excuse to read about magic and dragons and elves and shit like that is something I'll take up without a second thought.
Then it got me thinking about the kind of audience I want. Who are the people I would love to jam-pack a performance of Encanta or Tulpa, or Anne&Me?
In a word: fandom.
No, I don't mean people who do nothing but sing my praises to the high heavens and petition me with prayers for my next theatrical "baby." That would be nice, though.
The people I want to support my work are not passive consumers, nor are they patrons of THE MOST NOBLE ART OF THEATRE. They are people who actively and passionately engage with what they see, no matter how silly it may seem to some. They are more likely to show their love by writing fanfic about my stuff than a glowing review. They would rather dress up like one of my characters for a cosplay event than get dolled up for an awards ceremony. They would talk at length about the parallels between a character I create and another one in a fandom I may or may not be part of. The lit crit-minded among them would ask meaty questions of the work and start discussions with one another on Tumblr and/or Twitter. The socially conscious among them will open up discussions about things like race, gender, and sexuality.
The people who would be connected to my work won't do so because of theatre per se, but because it connects to other geeky interests like anime, comic books, sci-fi and fantasy literature, and so on. My most recent work, Encanta, is actually a sort of love letter to The Evil Queen/Regina Mills, Lana Parrilla, Evil Regals, and Swan Queen shippers who love ABC's Once Upon A Time but still have things they wish the show would do. I make no bones about the fact that Encanta is Swan Queen AU fanfic. The people I want most in my audience would love this about that piece.
It's not about how much they would love me. Though, again, that would be nice. It's more about how my work would give them a space to express things about themselves that they can't in ordinary life because it looks weird or silly. I want my work to give people a way to reveal experiences and perspectives that don't often have a place to get talked about. A lot of times those experiences and perspectives come from, marginalized people and communities.
For instance, quite a few people have come to understand the things I've been saying for years about race, gender, and sexuality through my meta posts about Once Upon A Time. It's not like I'm saying anything different. As a matter of fact, I pull my punches even less frequently in those posts than I do in other places. But so many more people came forward with their own stories and their own experiences as a result of that effort. Come to think of it, the same happened with Tulpa, or Anne&Me. So many people talked about how the ways they connected to a character and/or the story. I like to think that's done a lot of good.
The thing about fandom is that the people in various fandoms are already primed to participate. All they need is a hook, a connection to something they already know and love. They don't have to be convinced to creatively and critically engage with a particular work. They already do that. All I have to do is let them.