Calling all Theater companies and performers!

Open Call to Theater companies, performers, researchers:
I would like to hear other voices besides my own on this blog. If you'd like to write about your TLP experiences here, e-mail them to me and I'll put them up.
Topics can include dramaturgy to staging to personal responses to the play. Anything goes!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Tectonic Uncertainty Principle: Now for Jackrabbits!

So, fall is here, and that mean that the theater season is well underway. How do I know this? Because I can watch the page counts on Flickr and Blogger tick upwards, like a little barometer, with people looking for pictures. 

It's a surreal feeling, actually.  My ultimate goal was to help people interested in The Laramie Project, sure, and I was aware that my stuff might actually end up in productions of TLP.  Sure, I always new that.  But now that I see it happening on more than just one or two productions...  Just, wow.  It feels strange.  On the one hand, it's nice to know I can help people out, especially with getting a fuller view of the Laramie community for their performances.  On the other hand, I'm having a bit of an identity crisis with this.  I've always been ambivalent about the buck fence as a symbol of torture and death, and now it seems that I have unwittingly helped people further this very discourse.  

Ladies and Jackrabbits, this is officially the most popular
picture I've ever taken.  I'm not sure how I feel about this. 
Let me show you what I mean.  According to Blogger, in the last month, three of the five most popular posts are the ones on the fence where Matthew Shepard was killed: namely, "The Buck Fence and Place," "The Fences of Laramie," and the second post of my "Fences" series.   My post on Matthew's memorial bench actually rounds out the top four.

It's not just a new trend, either.  The stats are historically largely the same for as long as Blogger has offered free site statistics.  A large number of people come to this site specifically interested in buck fences. 

To give you an idea of what that breakdown is, here are some lifetime stats on page views for my blog via Google Analytics:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Coming Back Again

It's been a long year, friends.  It's time for the Jackrabbit to come back.

Dissertation writing is a funny thing: when it doesn't go well, you think to yourself, "I  just need to have more discipline to write on this." When I wrote on this blog, I felt guilty that I wasn't writing about early medieval dog-headed saints from Scythia.  And so I stopped writing here.  And in doing so, I stopped writing altogether.  That's how I learned a long, painful lesson:  You must write.  And if you smother the things you want to write at the expense of the things you must, you stop up the flow altogether.  I got the prospectus done-- eventually.  Now I must write chapters.  And if I am to write chapters, I have to unstop whatever it was I held back before, so that the words will come again. 

I don't know how much I'll actually be able to get back here and write-- but I figure that at least once a month is not too much to ask of myself.  And I hope I'll also have some help.  We'll see. 

So, a few things have happened in the last week or so that have made me decide that I need to start writing again.   The first (and exciting!) thing is that I have officially, finally passed my prospectus defense.  I had my defense last week, in an enormous conference room around a tiny table while four medievalists absolutely grilled me about codicology.  They were all very impressed with the work I did, I'm proud to say.  But then I asked them an important question:  "Do you think I can finish this by the end of the Spring semester?"

They all looked at each other, and my dissertation director shook his head.  "There's not a chance," Dr. H told me.  I looked to my paleography professor, and she just shrugged.  It looks like I am not graduating in the spring no matter how hard I work on this stupid dissertation.  So, if I can take my time, I figured, I might as well write. 

The next day I ran into "Jim" from our local performance of "10 Years Later" back in 2010.  I hadn't seen him in almost a year, even though we work in the same building, because he has new administrative duties in the Theater Department on campus.  I ran into him on my way to my shift at our Writing Center.  It was immediately as if time had never passed. 

"How are things going, Jackrabbit?"  he asked me.  I squirmed a little because I knew I hadn't been working on my blog.

"Oh, pretty good," I told him, and explained that I'd finally passed my prospectus defense.  He was pretty elated for me and even asked me to email him a copy of my prospectus.  I had to run because I was running late, but seeing a friendly face from my TLP past stuck with me for the rest of the afternoon.  

Then, tonight, this happened on Facebook.  I have a colleague whom I'll call "Rebekah," who posted this:

The short version is that I reacted rather badly to this.  I realize that expecting my undergraduate students to openly pay attention to things that happened before they were in school is a bit much, especially when they haven't been in the news.  I know that Matt Shepard doesn't get the press he did before the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Act passed.  But really...?  As much as gay rights have been in the news in the last three years, none of them had heard of Matt Shepard? 

I'm still not sure how to react.  On the one hand, cultural memory follows a strict law of entropy; those things which do not actively impact cultural events die a slow heat-death and fade into the neutral background of the past.  And in many instances, that's a very necessary process for healing.  There have been times, especially when I was still an undergraduate and living under the long, black shadow of a buck fence, that I wanted it do disappear from memory, too. 

But now?  I realize that what I wanted to fade was the pain, not the name of someone who unwittingly became the focal point the greatest culture war of my generation.  And, in that ambivalence, I also realized that there's more to write. 

I don't think that The Laramie Project is finished with me.  Not yet.  So, maybe it's time for me to come back. 

Besides, I still have two performances I need to write about.  Their stories need written, too.