More often than not, when I tell people that I love to write about theatre they are not surprised when I write about local San Diego theaters like the Old Globe or the La Jolla Playhouse and about Broadway in New York. The most surprise that I encounter is consistently when I excitedly tell them that I am going to Comic Con. Usually their response is in the form of confused questions like “What is the world can you cover for theatre from comic con?” or “What do theatre and comics have in common?”.
There are a couple ways I answer this, but here is how I break this down:
1) I am a HUGE NERD. This might be the most obvious response. I love world building, creativity, and imagination. I love seeing something come from the hard work and creativity of other people and get a glimpse of how they tell a story. So I want to see a movie and examine it in a similar way to how I see theatre. I talk about the costumes, the plot, how the special effects work, , and how the staged must have worked.
2)Many of the directors, actors and creators also have very strong theatrical backgrounds, some with specific ties to San Diego. Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) went to graduate school at University of San Diego and Silas Weir Mitchell (“Grimm”) got his Masters at University of California, San Diego. One of my favorite examples is that the movie “Wolverine” was headlined by the two Tony award winning actors Hugh Jackman and Liev Schrieber. Zachary Levi is on Broadway right now with FIRST DATE, and SPIDERMAN: TURN OFF THE DARK is still playing on Broadway.
3) The basic form of a comic book tends to follow the structure of the ancient Greek theater and explores all of the same subjects that theater does, which is why it so easily translates to stage. Revenge, love, heroes, villains, people who come to realize that “With great power comes great responsibility” are all plots that have been used by playwrights from Shakespeare to Stephen Sondheim to Stan Lee.
4)In comic books and in theatre, the audience is asked to make an imaginative leap and become a willing participant in this world. Their imaginations become a cooperative partner with the artists in creating and sustaining this story.
The theatre is limited in what they have the ability to show or do, based on theatre sizes, budgets, and how the show is written. In a performance the audience is always asked to believe in the world that they are watching while visually following the characters, absorbing the setting, costumes and props while following the plots twists and turns. It seems that theater and comics are both media that rely on perceptions of time and space and depend on the audience viewing it to be an active participant with them. How can someone not be drawn in to a work that engages them on an imaginative, a visual and an intellectual level?
So how could I turn down an opportunity to meet all these great theatre people, or be a fan and discuss these amazing worlds they are creating from comics and putting onto the screen? I can’t, and neither should you! Get involved with the arts, go check out some comic books or graphic novels, and maybe I’ll see you at the next con!