The Iron Mountain Review Vol. XXXII
Bremmer, Gregg, Piper, & Rose 37
RR: If you look at some of the things that have been successful on Broadway, Wicked was successful because of sixteen-year-old girls. There would be no Wicked if it hadn’t been for that younger group because the Boomers weren’t going to go. But the Boomers went once they realized the young kids were going to attach themselves to it. And there are several other big Broadway successes that are the result of that. I’m pretty hopeful for the future of theatre in the long run. We’ve got that bad gap in the middle. BG: The other thing, though, is the development of Broadway shows in Broadway Junior versions; these are shows specifically for kids between five and fifteen, and they’re doing those same stories, and they’ll come up. RR: And you have films like High School Musical and other Disney theatrical productions. I think there’s good hope for the future, despite all of that. In fact, I think we’re the Audience Member: You mentioned leather-bound Shakespeare works, and you mentioned that coal miners carried those; could you tell how you found that out? RR: I found that information through three sources. Two of them were coal miners’ diaries in which the men were talking about this from coal mining camps in Kentucky, West Virginia, and southwest Virginia—I also read it in a thesis—I don’t know whose thesis it was—where the author that actually did a study of this and how prevalent it was. I’ve also heard it from older coal miners fairly consistently. Audience Member: Was it just Shakespeare? RR: The only thing I’ve ever seen, or experienced, or heard them talk about were the pocket Shakespeares. I don’t know the answer to that; but in terms of the references, it was always the pocket Shakespeares. These were fairly prevalent. We’ve gotten dozens of these volumes at Barter that coal miners would barter for entry. It’s an interesting thing because nobody ever talks about. Everybody talks about them carrying their Bibles; but from what I can gather, that didn’t really start until after the thirties in the mines. You know, we all think of the mines as being progressive into the thirties because there were a lot of strikes. The Coal Mining Act was not passed until 1972. I mean, nothing changed in the mines until then which really dissolved the coal companies, the company stores, and the coal camps; but until 1972 it was pretty much like it was in salvation to all of that. KB: Other questions?
the past generation, where religion often played that role for people. Now, we’re seeing religion become a divisive point instead of a gathering point in many ways. I’m an ex seminarian, so I can talk about religion. My belief is we’re going to see a move back to the classics as soon as the Y Generation gets more established and becomes more regular theatre goers because they haven’t had any of that. The schools didn’t give it to them. They’re doing mostly modern stuff in high schools. They’re doing mostly modern stuff in colleges. They’ve heard about all the classics, but they’ve not had much opportunity to see them. I think you’re going to see a real resurgence in American classics and in Shakespeare and a lot of western European works, stuff that has been long ignored and that the Baby Boomers don’t care about. And I also think you’re going to see that with the X/Y Generation because they come together as groups and participate as groups as a way for them to connect. Therefore, they see theatre as a real experience. They don’t see music that way. We in the Boomer Generation saw concerts as a real experience. Concerts became our mantra because we grew up with revolutionary music, and theatre didn’t really follow suit then. But today I think you’re going to find that in the long run—particularly in the Y Generation—you’re going to find that real sense of connection that they don’t get in texting, that they don’t get in music, that they don’t get on the computer. They find the reality of that in the theatre. BG: The Millennials don’t go to theatre; they go to the concerts, from Bonnaroo to everything else. The younger generation in their late teens and early twenties are actually doing more of that, which is where my children are now. Although they grew up in the theatre with us, they would still go to the concerts. They’d rather go to Bonnaroo or CounterPoint or you name it. All across the country, there are some 300-plus concerts, huge concerts with massive amounts of people. You’re talking Woodstock and then some. The Millennials are going there. The younger preschoolers to high school are getting involved in theatre. Theatre is something that’s used as a tool to teach and to bring them along, but there’s that gap of the X/Y Generation in the middle that you’re talking about. And then the older generation who’s always gone to theatre, trained together in the theatre, or wants to go to the theatre. This X/Y group exists in the middle. It’ll take some time. They’re not in the theatre as much except as an event.
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