Due to this once-a-century pandemic, performing artists have had to completely re-imagine what live performances mean, or if live performance could even happen without jeopardizing the safety of everyone involved. Frankly, depending on whether or not life can return to something resembling normalcy anytime soon, this is the status quo: if we don’t reinvent the wheel right now, what else can we do?
For Trident, reinventing the wheel means figuring out how this pandemic is affecting the theatre community at large, and reminding it that it is a community. Everyday on Twitter, I read the laments of understanding theatre artists who see the reason why most performance venues are shut down, but miss the times that were, and the sense of belonging to a group of people with whom they shared a somewhat transcendent connection. Cue the musketeers: “One for all, and all for one!”
Therefore, I’ve chosen to begin a podcast. The main topic will be theatre history, more specifically some of the unusual stories and absurd nuances that have enraptured me or that have made me shake my head. But all have made theatre my lifelong study and chosen practice.
For each episode, I speak with a guest who I have met through my many years of study and work in theatre. Some of these guests are local, but many are far away from Sheridan. Overall, the fact that we have a few common connectors does in a way show that we are all in this together. We are all affected by this, and we can all make something of it.
The title of the podcast is the punchline of the favorite joke told my old college theatre instructor, Tom Empey. Besides being the most influential theatre mentor I had, Tom instilled in me such deep love and respect for the art, and at the same time the ability to acknowledge and enjoy some of the oddball turns that the art has made in its evolution. Tom died in 2016, and I credit most of my successes to him. He was a great man.
When teaching Ancient Greek Theatre, amongst the glossary of terms to know are the influential tragic playwright Euripides (sounded out: you-RIP-a-deez), and the tragedy by Aeschylus titled The Eumenides (sounded out: you-MEN-a-deez). After thoroughly explaining the significant impact of the two terms in a very stoic and scholarly manner, Tom would look at us and pinch the fabric of his slacks by his knee. He’d say, “You see these pants? Euripides, Eumenides.” The term “dad joke” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Nonetheless, a moment of levity was achieved in the midst of what could be otherwise considered fairly dry material.
That’s precisely what I mean to do with my podcast: Euripides, Eumenides. I mean to inject just a little more humor into the world today as I discuss bizarre and often hilarious stories from the history of theatre with a friend who has no prior knowledge of what will be discussed in the episode. This way, with the element of surprise, the guest has the opportunity to react more honestly, much as we are challenged to do with a role we would take onstage.
Even if you’re not a student of theatre history, these stories and the interactions with my guests give some light to our somewhat bleak current circumstances. Even with the promise of a vaccine, we may still be in this for the long haul. So, feel free to laugh a little, and possibly learn some things about why we, as the theatre community, keep practicing this art.
I’ve already got a few episodes done, and I plan to make them available in the new year on all major podcast providers. If you want to know more information, I’m always happy to hear from you! Feel free to write me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll see you at intermission (when we can have one of those again, that is)!