Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reading Round Two and the Labels

I was unable to attend last night's reading with Paul and Rob. I had a production meeting for another play and my good Scandinavian conscience and middle class work ethic would not let me skip it.

The Wednesday night reading was advertised as a family night. We arrived and my fears that I might be expected to produce a child before entering the auditorium were allayed as the nice Napervillians let us in sans progeny.

I did not take any spiffy photos and Paul has talked about his experience so well that I will attempt not to repeat him other than to say that it is lovely to hear an author's voice, particularly when he is as good an interpreter of his own work as Gaiman. We were treated to hearing a chapter from Good Omens, the entire volume of The Wolves in the Walls and we also got to hear the forthcoming Instructions with a slide show of Charles Vess's art. I must also add that it is fun to be in an audience with young fans as they ask interesting questions about nightmares.

However, being in a fan with younger audience members also led me to think about the sorts of categorizations that are applied to reading material in sometimes unfortunate ways. I can understand that for a parent it may be useful to understand the age range or content of a book. What baffles me is the sense of condescension that seems implied when the words "children's" or "young adult" or "fantasy" are applied. It also struck me that given the breadth of ages in the audience that readers know those labels are misapplied. I suppose they seek out good writing or personal resonances.

I was reminded me of a moment shortly after I learned I was lucky enough to be dramaturg for this production of Neverwhere that I overheard a conversation in the ladies room of Lifeline Theatre. Several women were discussing how excited they were to see Neverwhere on stage and as I emerged from the stall I saw that all three of them had grey hair. It made me so happy to see them and is a great reminder about how art often defies easy categorization much as people do. I was so pleased to read Rob's post about the challenges of adaptation and Paul's thoughts on respect for the source material. It is nice to feel the shared respect for the story and similarly respect for the audiences who also love this story.

This feels rather like a rant-ish digression. More character research will be forthcoming.

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