I posted last week about Beef and Boards Theater, Constant Reader, and their (in my opinion) ill-advised new production of Beehive! The Musical. In the intervening week, the theater has experienced a significant amount of pushback, even deleting their Instagram account to the avalanche of commenters taking them to task. Clearly, taking theaters to task online for poor decision-making can, and does, have an effect.
I’d love to be able to take some of the credit for that, but alas, I was just reporting on chatter I’d already seen online. Likewise, it would be nice to take credit for other theatrical activist accomplishments. Like, for example, the recent cancellation of an online Broadway fundraiser for Senate candidate Joe Kennedy III. A number of prominent, progressive-minded artists such as Sara Bareilles, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul had pledged their support to his campaign, apparently without realizing – until it was pointed out to them online – that he was effectively running to the right of sitting Democratic Senator Ed Markie, notable for having co-authored the proposed legislation commonly referred to as the Green New Deal.
But alas, I hadn’t even written about that until the paragraph above. No, I can’t take any sort of credit as an activist on these issues. All I can do, Constant Reader, is point you in the direction of one who is. A voice that is perhaps the most informed, passionate, and effective voice on matters concerning the intersection of American politics and American theater.
A fake Chef Gordon Ramsay on Twitter.
I am absolutely serious. If you are not already following it, head to the Twitter website and follow the account @THTRNightmares. Theater Nightmares purports to be celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, hurling criticism and invective at theaters in the same way the real Chef Ramsay berates inept restauranteurs on something like Kitchen Nightmares. Tweets are even in ALL CAPS, to approximate the appropriate Ramsay-an volume.
It should just be silly gag. And yet, consistently, this account has been on top of breaking stories in the theater (specifically in New York, although they were all over the Indianapolis thing). The commentary has been insightful. And as the cancellation of the Kennedy fundraiser has demonstrated, it gets results. I’m consistently impressed.
To say nothing of envious.
All of us putting up this kind of commentary on the internet hope to have some kind of influence on the broader conversation (whatever the topic might happen to be). It usually feels like we’re just screaming into empty air; that all of our carefully worded arguments and pithy insights are ultimately for naught, background noise at best. And so we try and figure out ways to stand out, leverage whatever fleeting celebrity we might have, find some unique angle or gimmick. Even that is a crapshoot; there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to what works, what rises to prominence, and what doesn’t. On paper, having Gordon Ramsay be the all-caps avatar of theatrical critique doesn’t sound like something that would work. But it works splendidly – and alas, I’m not the one who thought of it.
However, whoever DID think of it was nice enough to follow me back on Twitter. So I’ve got that going for me.