September 2, 2011

artist vs. audience? maybe not.

At the 2AMt blog, Aaron Andersen asks if we really want to be like Apple.

In my comment responding to the post, I reveal my fully fledged nerd status when I said:
Sometimes I wonder about this artist/audience division. Speaking for myself, I write plays like the ones I like to or want to see. So in a weird, roundabout way, I am the audience too. This does gel with my experience with roleplaying games, where the creators of the content are the same as its audience (generally speaking).

To what extent is it likely that we often set up a dichotomy between artist and audience that doesn't have to be there? What would our relationship to our work be like if that distinction was not there (or was at least heavily muted)?
Just in case you had doubts about how big a nerd I am, I came to theatre from roleplaying games. And no, a few sessions of D&D ain't what I'm talking about. I mean whole shelves taken up by White Wolf Games, Dungeons & Dragons, and indie RPGs that most people probably never heard of. And let's not talk about the games I designed myself.

During a brief Twitter conversation, I shared that what made roleplaying games unique is the fact that the audience and creators of a game are typically one and the same, so the division between artist and audience doesn't necessarily exist for me. I don't think about the audience as though I'm somehow separate and aloof from it. As a matter of fact, I write the things I want to see.

Does the fact that I create content by itself put me in a different category from the rest of the theatre-going community? I suppose one could argue that I bring specialized knowledge or expertise to the process, but I don't doubt that there are theatre-goers who have a broader and deeper knowledge of theatre than I do and who can probably articulate their ideas about it much better than I can.

Are artist and audience really separate in some fundamental way? If so, where does the division between artist and audience lie?


  1. Speaking strictly from personal experience here, I think it's a delicate balancing act. My method is to write the stories I would want to read (as a fan) but write it in a manner to convince the cynic why they LOVE this story and why it's the best thing ever.

    I've also found that one bleeds into the other. If you're writing for yourself and you're passionate about your project. You're naturally going to do everything possible to make it better and that enthusiasm will also convince the audience to get your work.

  2. Funny, but the former Board Chair at BackStage, the guy who recruited me to the Board, has an in-depth love of indie RPG's and the like, too. A lot of people with BackStage are into very complex Euro-style board games that I don't understand. I think the intersection between theater and gamer-nerds is probably pretty significant. And like you mentioned on Twitter, what else is LARP but this intersection?