ASSASSINS VIDEO PROMO TRAILERS
(or just scroll down this blog!)
The hubbub seemed to start here in Cleveland, when I posted the trailer featuring the character of Lee Harvey Oswald (played by Jacob Wadenpfuhl). Seems JFK is still a little fresh in some people's minds. Why does no one cry for Bill McKinley?:
"I'm sorry, but I find this promotional approach highly objectionable. I'm one of the people who can tell you exactly where she was and what she was doing the day JFk was shot.
sincerely, Lissy Gulick"
That was followed by:
"BACK IN ANCIENT, DYNASTIC EGYPT, WHENEVER A PHAROAH OR HIGH OFFICIAL
FELL OUT OF FAVOR, OR WAS OTHERWISE DISGRACED, HIS NAME AND HIS IMAGE, IF THERE WAS ONE, WAS OBLITERATED FROM ALL PUBLIC RECORDS AND PUBLIC MONUMENTS. IN THOSE DAYS, ERASERS CAME IN THE FORM OF HAMMERS AND CHISELS.
TODAY, WE ARE DROWNING IN A SEA OF IMAGES, AND WITH THE PUBLICITY AND MARKETING TOUTED FOR THE PLAY, ASSASSINS, THERE IS SOMETHING THAT SUMMONS LOATHING AND THAT GRABS AT OUR STOMACHS ABOUT THE GLAMORIZATION OF KILLERS AND MURDERERS. NOT THAT HOLLYWOOD OR
BROADWAY HAS EVER SHOWN ANY SQUEAMISHNESS WHEN IT COMES TO
EXPLOITING MURDER AND MAYHEM FOR PROFIT. YET A SPECIFIC AUDIENCE OF YOUNG PEOPLE IS OUT THERE CONTINUOUSLY VIEWING ALL THIS MATERIAL, WHICH IS NOT JUST FOR "MATURE AUDIENCES" ANYMORE. ALL OF THE PSYCHOSES OF KILLING AND MURDER HAVE BECOME "PUBLIC DOMAIN" AND
THERE MAY BE A HIDDEN BENEFIT HERE - FOR THE LONG RANGE. HOWEVER WE SLICE AND DICE IT, IN SPITE OF COLUMBINE, ARKANSAS, KANSAS, VIRGINIA TECH, FINLAND, AD NAUSEAM, IT DOES NOT SEEM TO BE GETTING BETTER.
YOU MIGHT SAY, 'WELL, IF IT IS SELLING TICKETS, WHAT IS THE HARM?"
ANYONE WHO DOESN'T KNOW THE RIGHT ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION
EITHER LEAVES THE FAMILY WEAPONS IN PLAIN VIEW OF YOUNGSTERS
OR IS COMATOSE, AND FOR ME THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN THE TWO.
MAYBE A SIMPLE POSTER WOULD HAVE BEEN AS EFFECTIVE. OR IS THAT LIKE ASKING TO PUT THE JINN BACK INTO THE LAMP? WHERE IS THOMAS PAINE AND HIS IDEA OF COMMON SENSE?
THANK YOU LISSY. OBJECTION WELL TAKEN.
hmmmm....an email in all capital letters? A sign of aggression in this text-happy era? Maybe. Or maybe just really passionate about Lee Harvey Oswald!
There have been others and I'm sure others will follow. My response to some of the opinions expressed so far has been this:
Thanks so much for the feedback. I really appreciate it and am always glad to talk about the show and theatre marketing in general. And I completely understand the reaction. Again, this is a challenging piece to produce and promote. It is disturbing and uncomfortable. I think that y merely putting the title "Assassins" on a marquee, you're inviting some negative reaction. And I think that in large part that was the authors' intent - to ruffle feathers, make us squirm in our seats and really take a look at our society and what the "American dream" means, so that these horrible things never have to happen again.
I was born a couple years after 1963, so I don't have a recollection of the events of the JFK assassination. The nearest thing that my younger cast could relate to that we've discussed are the events of September 11. In an effort to make sure they approach the material in ways that I consider appropriately grounded (which is not to imply censored or "softballed" in any way) and in line with the authors' intent, I've tried to get them to imagine how difficult it would be to perform a musical (or promote one) that some people would view as mocking or sympathizing with the 9/11 terrorists. I've also approached the marketing with this in mind as well. I would never want to mock or sympathize with anyone responsible for the similarly catastrophic events of 1963. That has never been my intent. And again, if you took it that way, I can understand it.
However, I do believe in this piece of theatre - specifically because it is disturbing and uncomfortable, and I am of the personal belief that if a society ever needed to be shaken out of our complacent slumber, we do. Especially now as we are heading into the voting booths. It is very uncomfortable to look at ourselves and some very heinous deeds some of us have done. But we have to if we are ever going to change. And I really believe this piece grabs us by the shoulders and shakes us a bit - so I believe the marketing and promotion should too. I never mean to offend. With the exception of some harsh language at times, this piece has no outward or graphic violence, or blood and with the exception of one brief image before a blackout - no one is ever seen actually getting shot. The promos follow that line. And it is important to note that 99% of what the characters are saying in the promos comes directly from the script. And I'm certainly not in this business to get rich, so the implication that the video pieces are sensationalizing awful acts just to sell tickets - while understandable - is not quite on the mark. Of course we want to sell tickets so that we can share the amazing talents of this cast, but also so we can shake a few people (voters) up as well and start dialogues like this one. In that regard you will continue to see (should you choose to click the link) other video promos from the other characters in the show over the upcoming two weeks.
But I definitely think to change we have to talk...dialogue is essential, between democrats and republicans, theatres and audiences - which is why I am so grateful for your feedback. I always welcome the chance to talk more with you. I can be reached at (440) 263-1156. I would love for you to see the show!
Thanks so much and best wishes - Geoff Short
Of course there have been supporters as well...
"As a teacher, I can understand that there are some parents out there who wish to shield their children from anything that could be considered harmful, disgusting, questionable, etc. However, AS A TEACHER, I also believe that when these types of shows, ideas, songs, pop-stars, etc. come into the arena, it is the job of the PARENTS, not the community, to explain why and how these things are bad or unacceptable for their child. If you are not aware of things like Facebook, Myspace, musicals, plays, T.V. shows and movies with adult content, then you are not doing your job as a parent.
I see your point about how disgusting it is that our society tends to glorify, in public (movies, books, plays, television), the things we condemn behind closed doors, however, it is not the responsibility of the theaters to control that. That responsibility lies with the parents and the parents alone.
The theater has been and always will be a place where ideas, new and old, are presented in non-traditional ways. It's up to the audience members to decide what to take away from the performance. I don't think the marketing has anything to do with that and in a time when the arts are suffering, let the theaters do whatever they can to get those audience members there. If this marketing works, I say good for them for getting people in the seats. If they don't get more people attending performances, with our current state of economics, what will happen to the theater community in one of the poorest cities in the nation?"
As someone who works in marketing and advertising I must say- GREAT promotion. Love it or hate it, it's effective. Wow, I hadn't even heard about this show and am now really interested (and why didn't I go audition?) in seeing it.
I usually don't like musicals either, but might give this one a pass.
best wishes to you all in your opening and run,
Michael Goulis "
Stay tuned as the local press has gotten wind of the story...(I have no idea how!)...More to come!