Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy Half-Birthday to the Buzz

Posted by Bruce Miller

Tomorrow marks the sixth month anniversary of the Barksdale Blog--although I suspect you can't have an "anni" anything until you've reached at least a year. But as all parents know, up to the second birthday you always count by months.

So here we are. It will be six months ago tomorrow, on March 15, that we began this cyber adventure. You can click into our archives to revisit that first blog entry and almost every posting since.

I say “almost” because a few articles that found their way onto our blog for brief periods of time are no longer with us. For example, there was some blog editing (purging?) late at night on July 23, the “most read” day in our brief blog lifetime. During the course of that day we experienced a riot of anonymous comments, a few of which were fairly intense about our theatre or one or another of our respected colleague theatres.

As word of the riot spread around town—and wouldn’t you know I was the last to hear—a record 315 people logged on to view the carnage. When I discovered what was happening, I shut down the blog, temporarily, removed the posts that somehow prompted the blood bath and scrubbed them of all incendiary comments before reposting them the next day.

In another instance—I believe it was on August 6—I wrote what I considered to be an affectionate and respectful (but also satirical) post in homage to Robin Arthur. A few days before I had written some favorable comments about Henry IV, Part I at Richmond Shakespeare. Jacquie O’Connor, who was in IV/I, quite naturally wanted people to come see it. So she was encouraging friends to read my blog entry. Robin Arthur, it turns out, is blog averse, so she finally turned to Jacquie and said, “Jacquie, I wouldn’t read Bruce Miller’s blog if he wrote about my #&*@* !

Now, I’ve learned my lesson and therefore substituted all those punctuation marks for the word Robin used, a word that is synonymous with “burro.” And "buttocks."

Robin told me this story herself so that I would get a good laugh out of her blog aversion, rather than hear the story through the grapevine and assume that she was intending to speak ill of me. I thought the story was a hoot. I also thought that the gauntlet had been thrown down.

I was determined to write a blog post about Robin’s … “burro.”

So I did. Just for fun. It was titled ROBIN ARTHUR’S ASS in big bold letters. And let me remind you all that “ass” is a perfectly acceptable word that I’ve read from the pulpit of my church. It’s a word that’s included in the script of Peter Pan, which Theatre IV will be producing this spring. It’s the moniker that Peter tells us Tinker Bell has assigned to Wendy. If you play the old Mary Martin tape from the Peter Pan TV special of the 1950s, you’ll hear it loud and clear ... with no one objecting.

But the language police are a lot pickier now than they were in the 50s, more’s the pity. So when my blog post told the tender story of Robin’s pet donkey, recounting it’s many adventures and including quite a few fun photos I found on line, the ladies in our Marketing Department, who are far more wise than I, reminded me that the Barksdale blog reaches out to all kinds of people who may be somewhat less “accepting” than we crazy theatre types. They suggested that perhaps I should disseminate my satire in a less public forum. They were of course right; the post went down.

But I saved it as a word document. So, if anyone really wants to read it and see the photos, just drop me a line and I’ll send it to you in a plain brown email.

Are all such blog purges the equivalent of censorship and therefore inherently evil? Yes. Do we do it anyway? Yes. Hey, business is business.

Basically, we’re learning the blog business as we go along. We're making some mistakes, and we're certainly not pleasing everybody. I know I still tend to be too long winded and formal (BORING is the word one commenter chose to put in all caps). Others on our blog tend to write far more whimsically and/or shorter. Hopefully we find a balance.

I know we sometimes post content too frequently for some (my pal Mr. Timberline comes to mind), too sparingly for others. Some want our blog to be more "educational," some want a good deal less of that. We appreciate all opinions and points of view. The business studies we're reading suggest that daily postings and multiple perspectives increase blog readership. Readership is what we're after.

Our prodigal Heifetz ("giving in abundance") has brilliantly suggested some 15-second video blog posts that we're going to be trying soon to promote our various productions.

And here’s where you come in. Now that we’ve established critical mass (138 blog posts; 719 people, shows, companies and places etc. indexed in our labels), we want to invite any and all of you to submit blog posts to us. Just write whatever you want to put out there, and email it to with the word BLOG in the subject line. If the posts you submit contain content related to professional theatre in Metro Richmond or beyond, and/or if we think your post will be of interest to the Richmond theatre community, we’ll likely publish it. The exceptions will be blog posts that we consider to be mean spirited about our theatre, our artists, or any of our respected colleagues, be they individuals or organizations.

We cordially invite you to join us in the merry mayhem of blog land. Tell us your stories about theatres and productions of days gone by. Tell us what your life is like after moving from Richmond into a larger or smaller market. Tell us how you’re doing in college, or what it felt like to perform with that company in Idaho. Or Poughkeepsie. Tell us your opinion of what we could or should be doing better. We’re open to any and all voices; we welcome your input.

Six months from now, when we hit our One Year Anniversary, we hope you’ll consider the Barksdale Buzz to be YOUR blog too, not just ours.

--Bruce Miller

PS - Should you venture into the archives and discover that many of the pictures are still down, be assured that we know this and will be working, over time, on their restoration. Thanks.

No comments: