The theater and the Internet? The theater on the Internet? The theater near the Internet? Seems like a contradiction, a catastrophic collision of diametric artistic opposites, and yet, in a way, it all seems so fitting. One of the oldest artforms in human history meets the technological revolution that is remaking--and has largely already remade--the world. And as the Internet connects the far-flung reaches of the universe into one intermingled global village, Theatermania.com asserts as its highest priority the placement of theater, prominently and forever, onto the cultural diet of the world.
Using the Internet, however exciting and innovating, to promote and explore the theater might seem to be a risky thing. In fact, anyone who knows anything about the economics of theater--writing theater, writing about theater, directing theater, producing theater, attending theater--knows that the economics of the biz are tenuous at best. Theater has historically been the ultimate crapshoot, relying on tempting those who love it so with the fruits and rewards artistic acceptance and excellence. Yet because there have been more reasons to stay out of (or away from) the theater than to be in one, the theater unfortunately spent a great deal of the latter half of the 20th Century trading on hype and allure for survival and relevance.
Particularly in the last 25 years, film, television, video games, theme parks, and a general mass-market, lowest-common-denominator ethos have freely drawn upon the energy, interest and quality of our culture without challenge. If anything, the theater has often gone out of its way to stay out of step, or at least one step behind, the shifting times. Worst of all, the theater has increasingly allowed itself to develop--and has often happily perpetuated--a quirky perception as a staid, creaky artform, suitable but to martini glasses, epigrammic witticisms and the various trappings of "high art"--save the occasional Rent that suggests a realignment with popular culture that invariably seems more a stillborn birth than watershed event.
Theatermania.com will change all that. Notice that we could say, "we aim to change all that," but we use the word "will" because we know that what attracts theater people to the theater and what attracts audiences to the theater are very much the same thing--the immediate, inviolable, ineffable viscerality of live performance; the spirit and the honesty of communal experience; the feeling of being "in the moment" when that moment is live and happening right before your eyes.
We believe that the theater has a rightful and historical place at the table with all the other items that crowd our cultural menu, and we further believe that for far, far too long, words like "theater" and "culture" have been needlessly stained and sullied by stuffy connotations of inaccessibility that baffle and ultimately alienate potential new audiences. While mega-musicals have certainly supercharged and invigorated a Broadway demographic that once looked grayer and grayer, Theatermania.com doesn't believe that the theater begins and ends solely at the Great White Way's doorstep or any other entity's doorstep. We aim, rather, to promote the whole theatrical potpourri, with connections to, feelings for, and belief in the inherent greatness of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, and of every regional theater--commercial, non-profit and community; large, mid-size or small; from classical to cutting-edge--from one end of the global theatrical village to the other, and barring none.
In other words, at Theatermania.com, the entire world takes a bow.
In our guts and in our hearts and in our plans for the future, we submit that theater is not something which occurs only inside the four walls of some storied concrete castle, however adorned by frescoes, murals, gargoyles and the ghosts of past, present and future it may be. Theater occurs where you find it, where you see it, where you feel it going on, and when and where you discover it. It's in that moment on the street as much as that moment on the stage, and in our minds, hearts, and souls. It's in the way we live and work and play every day. It's in the people that we are and in the people we strive to be. It is in the art with which we define ourselves. It is an ever-evolving artform, always rethought, reimagined and reborn by each generation that places its own, highly distinct stamp upon the scene. On the day of our official launch, March 13, 2000, what Theatermania.com celebrates is a link to the past, an immediate and undeniable connection to the present, and a salute to the unequaled and legendary times that await us tomorrow. To us, the theater is, and shall forever be, the medium of the masses, the language of the living, the guardian of our greatness, poignantly strutting and fretting its many glittering acts upon the stage--any stage--forever more.