My name is Max and I am a senior at The George Washington University in Washington, DC and am studying Journalism and Theatre. This blog is going to serve as the centerpiece of an independent study I am conducting this semester on the relationship between theatre and classic theatre criticism and social media.
As a dual Journalism and Theatre major, my interests very much straddle both disciplines not only uniquely, but also how they interact with each other. So much of our School of Media and Public Affairs study at GW is focused in politics, so I want to explore a different side of the media. The media and theatre have a very interesting relationship because the media directly affects audience reaction and also spreads audience reactions.
For my project, I didn’t just want to explore theatre criticism (the most obvious combination of journalism and theatre). So I thought how the media really affects theatre and it does so in two major ways: criticism and social media. Both of these things not only promote a show and make a show more well known, they also can change how people view the piece of theatre and the effect it has on society and audiences.
What is interesting about this project will be tracking how much the combination of audience reactions and critical reviews changes the effectiveness of any political or cultural messages that the plays try to convey to audiences. It will be interesting to observe how this varies between the shows because their genres and subjects are so different.
This idea of intended versus unintended meaning intrigues me and I am also very interested in new plays and theatrical development, so for my independent study I will go to see three new plays around DC, observe audience reaction (through talking to people, Twitter/Facebook, and reviews), and then talk to a playmaker, either playwright or director, and see whether the actual message that the audiences took away was similar to their intended message.
The three plays I will be seeing is The Argument by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros at Theatre J, a lab production of Red Speedo by Lucas Hnath at Studio Theatre, and Crossing, a world premiere musical, at Signature Theatre. These are three very different pieces of theatre and therefore will allow for very different experiences, both for me as a scholar and for audiences and their reactions.
I am really excited for this project and would love any responses, comments, or feedback you can give me!