Tuesday, July 31, 2012

After Dark, July 31, 2012

CharPo is not what I planned
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

This week is the first anniversary of our podcast, This Is The CPC. In a month it will be the first anniversary of The Charlebois Post - Canada. In four months The Charlebois Post - Montreal hits two years old. The Charlebois Post - Toronto is a month old and already a huge success. CharPo-Alberta and CharPo-Atlantic Canada are being beta tested and we are examining the feasibility of a CharPo-BC. We have launched a new award aimed at publicists called the CharPR Prize (pronounced "sharper") and are looking into creating an electronic publishing house: CharPoFolio. All this while jumping through hoops towards incorporation.

What the hell am I doing?! How did this happen?!

As I have said before, CharPo Montreal was begun as a response to the lessening coverage of English-language theatre in Montreal (two English-language arts weeklies have died since). It was a simple little blog I went ahead with together with Editor-in-Chief Estelle Rosen.

I want the project to grow for all of them.

But things change even when you're not planning for it. They grow. CPC seemed a logical next step and it was. Writer Frank Moher - way off in BC - was the one who suggested the podcast (the only thing that has become less formal - when Estelle and I realized we just liked to talk about theatre and our lives in and around it). A superb team in Toronto - recruited by Émilie Charlebois, my niece - saw the numbers of CPC pageviews leap each time we published a review from the city. Our reviewers in Montreal and Toronto, then in Ottawa, Vancouver and Calgary, all proved to be excellent - bright, funny, well-read and engaging. One of our reviewers, Axel van Chee, is to my mind one of the best reviewers of opera in the country. Joel Fishbane and Stuart Munro are top musical-theatre commentators. But all of our writers delight the hell out of me and receiving an article from ANY of our writers and weekly columnists - Joel, Cameryn Moore and Richard Burnett - is an utter pleasure.

So I want the project to grow for all of them. But I also want the exciting conversation with our hundreds of theatre artists (who write first-person articles about their work) to continue.

More astonishing is not one person is paid for this. (Hopefully, some day this will change.) Every single person of the hundred or so collaborators has done this because we love theatre in this country. It's as simple as that. (I've tortured myself to come to this realization - this simple fact.) That they do this work under my name is incidental. Indeed, the best aspect of this project is that Charlebois is now a brand removed from me. In every aspect of my life, except writing, I have been plagued by shyness that is almost crippling all my life. (It also helps that we have an army of other Charleboises on the project who help camouflage me.)

The little blog has gotten away from me and I couldn't be happier. Émilie and Dave Ross, CPT's associate editor, are shaping the content for that edition together which is why it has a different feel from CPC and CPM. Artists across Canada are shaping the content of the national edition. CPM changes too. We've decided to cover French-language theatre on the site as we already do on CPC.

Anniversaries are nice. However, I celebrate every day. Celebrate our theatre.

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