Customs
folk metaphor
Folk speech

“Off the Bricks”

The informant learned the phrase “off the bricks” during her time as an intern at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar. A brick pathway led to the theater at which the performances took place, so the interns were taught to keep any talk regarding the performances “off the brick [path]” and away from the theater to prevent influencing any potential audience members’ perspectives before watching the show.

As far as the informant knew, no official punishments were administered for failing to adhere to the motto. Rather the phrase served more as a reminder to members, both old and new. Something to keep in mind, as with all mottos and proverbs, are the implications that follow from these phrases. Advice crafted to ensure that audience perspectives are not altered indicate that audiences may have been impacted by comments they overheard from employees. Teasing this out a bit further, the measures taken to prevent such occurrences illuminate that audience perspective purity is of a high value in the theatrical community. Rather than allowing those involved in the process of creating a piece dictate, whether intentionally or not, the community aims to preserve the audience’s first encounter with the production as purely their own and unique to each person.

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