What you see onstage this season is inseparable from the where of it; the show and we seat-fillers are all part of the same environment. The same context applies to galleries and museums or any performance venue you can name. There’s a sense of social occasion to visiting Benaroya, SAM, or McCaw Hall. You talk to strangers at intermission or find yourself appreciating the same canvas at the Frye. At Town Hall author events, everyone has read the same book, and they all want to talk about it. The audience helps shape the show—as when we laugh, or not, at Noel Coward’s jokes at the 5th Avenue. Artist and spectator go together, inseparably, rather like Berkeley’s tree falling in the forest.
Some call it feedback, and Malcolm Gladwell—who’s coming to town, BTW—is probably writing a book on the clustering effect at cultural institutions. If you see a line at a fringe-theater company like Balagan, that makes you want to see the show. The same applies during the First Thursday Gallery Walk. The arts are social, and they link us together. In the pages ahead, you’ll see some of that networking effect as we meet a local memoirist who cast off religion, and consider the history of moviegoing in Seattle. A socially conscious playwright asks us to ponder those living outside our city’s affluent bubble. Once-distinct choreography styles are blurring. A tormented composer’s private self-avowals draw roomfuls of eager listeners. And the city’s favorite video store is reinventing itself as a social hub. All that, plus a comprehensive calendar of events running up through Nutcracker season. BRIAN MILLER