A Failure to Communicate

Photo by Eric Melzer.

As my twitter followers know, I was trying to get my officemate to Bedlam and Live Action Set’s The Happy Show. I saw it myself on the Saturday before it closed, so I spent all week word-of-mouthing, talking it up, and taking him through my own Happy Show journey: being a sympathetic thug, visiting a shoe-guru (pump manifestation!), attending a hug seminar and a dance show, and witnessing a chubby bunny contest.

The main selling points–imo–was the picnic centerpiece and the complete Lord of the Rings in 10 minutes. He’s a big LotR‘s fan, so I thought he might be on board. I also mentioned there would be beer. Hey, there’s beer! Oh, and did I mention beer?

He didn’t go.

I might have been overzealous in my pitch, but I felt I had to be, since I talk about shows all the time and he’s probably developed a callous impenetrable to my ramblings. In fact, I’m sure he has, because once I’m comfortable around you, I don’t shut up. And because of the podcast, I am always thinking, seeing, and talking about shows. I’ve seen over thirty this year already, and I’ve mentioned every one.

The Happy Show exemplifies a lot about what I like to see–it’s fun, everyone appreciates that you’re there, and care went into making a gift for the audience. I spend a lot of time talking with Brian O’Neal about theatre, and he characterizes shows in terms of gifts. The Happy Show has been one of the greatest examples of the theatre operating as a gift: every moment I felt welcomed, warmed, and comfortable and I left feeling–get this–happy.

I wanted my officemate to experience this, and I think I made the mistake of characterizing it as theatre. There are elements of theatre, but nothing he would likely find recognizable. Most recently he’s seen some shows at the Chanhassen and, outside of that, The Lion King. Those are shows that I don’t typically see, as my concept of theatre encompasses a much broader range than what would be considered the norm. When I say theatre, he doesn’t think this.

What do you call something like The Happy Show–which is essentially a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure experience? I honestly don’t know, but “theatre” seems an improper moniker. So I’m left feeling disappointed and sad–The Happy Show opens the door to a wider exploration beyond what would be considered traditional theatre; it’s a modern show and I think many people’s concept of theatre is years behind where it should be.

But I was given another suggestion, which I should have considered at the outset: invite him to come to the show with me and have a beer after. Next time.

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