Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Culture Shock

Undisclosed Location Theater is on a college campus in the middle of nowhere. This makes for one of the strangest environments I've ever been in. It's like a combination of Broadway, college, and summer camp — complete with the diva fits, frat parties, and bug bites. There's nature everywhere and it fucking follows you. I can't shake it, I've tried. That said, I'm writing this from the 2nd floor porch that's accessed from my bedroom (at home we'd call it a balcony — or a fire escape — but this is definitely a porch), plugged into a cleverly placed outdoor outlet, using wireless internet, and I could definitely get used to it.

Technophile that I am, I'm largely struck by how much things have changed in the campus setting, and by how technologically advanced we all are here at theater camp. I got my first e-mail address when I was a freshman in college, and it was 24k dial-up to a Unix mail program. My junior year they put high-speed in all the dorms. That was also when our rooms got put on the same phone system as the offices on campus, and we got the great technological wonder of voicemail.

Here, every single room in every single building has data jacks in at least two locations. I'm pretty sure you can go online from the bathroom. My laptop and Airport Express both had to be registered with the college before I could go online, and I had to change all my outgoing mail servers to the company's before I could send anything. We're told (and as far as I know no one's tested this yet) that if we download anything illegally, they will know about it and will kick us off the network immediately. I don't think the Pentagon is this secure.

In our bathroom there's a sticker with info for the rape crisis hotline. They have Instant Messenger. It makes perfect sense, of course, but something about it strikes me as weird every time I look at it.

Everyone here is on IM. This sounds annoying but it's actually genius. If I have a question in the middle of rehearsal, I don't have to get up and disrupt the work to get an answer. If someone needs to come by on a break, they can find out when we're due and not have to sit and wait outside the room. Because we're all on the college network, I can print from my house to my office a half-mile away. The other day I printed something from the rehearsal studio, and IMed one of my assistants, who was waiting in the office, telling her what I wanted done with the document. All while watching a rehearsal and glancing out the window at the mountains.

Of course, I've had one good night's sleep in the 10 days I've been here, I've forgotten the meaning of the word "gym," and I haven't yet figured out how to run a department (with, at present, a staff of 11, and more arriving as shows gear up) while spending 10 hours a day in rehearsal, but hey, it's just theater/college/camp — it ain't brain surgery.

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