The wonderful thing about theatre is that an audience can walk in a space full of strangers, watch a story unfold, and see a great piece of art that makes us feel really good about our world or become inspired to make our world better.
The media is made up of this same being. Media hooks the public with true tales of disaster, murder, love, money, blackmail, and everything else in between. I’ve attended many a lecture on the media monster, and there has always been a negative opinion of how the media spins its stories and manipulates the public. I used to critically listen and analyze, but then I got lazy. Granted, we all have selective hearing, choosing to listen only to what we connect with.
And look how easy it is to connect! The media surrounds our daily lives and there are thousands of stories being published on paper and on digital news feeds. Take a look at how much the media bubble has expanded in just two years: With the creation of Twitter, and the growing popularity and accuracy of blogs, people are getting media coverage from more than their local channel. All these things have become media outlets that transform our thoughts and actions.
There’s an ongoing argument that print journalism is losing its appeal; that it’s losing in the race towards King of all Media. I admit, I read more blogs than the pages that get tossed on my driveway. Why? Maybe it’s more accessible or perhaps it’s more fun to read. Blogs tend to be more opinionated and more specific. Blogs sometimes publish more of the gritty parts of the story.
The media has to tell the truth, but it also has to sell something—a product, an agenda, an advertisement, an idea. In order to do that, it has to tell a story through some sort of angle. That angle does not always make the community happy. Parts of the story can be left out and insignificant parts can be embellished.
How does the media paint your neighborhood? Do you feel like parts of the story are missing? In Clybourne Park, Lena does not like the way her neighborhood will be changing and worries that its history will be forgotten. Lena wants to protect the history that she grew up in, and she takes action to make sure her community’s story still exists.
In short, stories are the connecting factor between the media and its public. The media is a storyteller that we choose to listen to (or not). When you take part in this exchange, you are connected to the community. An entire culture can be connected by one story—emotionally, intellectually, or physically—and it happens over social media, at work, at a bar, and in theatre.
“Our shared stories create a connection to others that builds a sense of belonging to a particular community.” – Daniel Siegel
Want to be a part of this discussion? Come see the July 31st matinee of Clybourne Park and stay for the Mammoth Forum “Media as a Storyteller.” Special guests will include Lydia DePillis, author of “Housing Complex” blog for the Washington City Paper, Shani Hilton, author of “Confessions of a Black Gentrifier”, Elahe Izadi, reporter for WAMU’s Dcentric, and Philip Stewart, reporter ABC7/WJLA-TV and News Channel 8 team.
~ Noel Edwards, Marketing and Communications Assistant