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by Elizabeth Hemmerdinger | bio

About four months ago, one of my plays was co-produced in Denver by the Modern Muse Theatre Company and The Arvada Center. The young theater company lacked a PR budget, and it came to me that I might create a short video — something that would evoke the spirit of the play — and then launch it on YouTube.

Now that may sound like bragging — the part about launching something. Don’t fret. There is no way in the world I could have done this video on my own. It took a team of creative folks (including friends) to pull it off, and in the process I learned a tremendous amount about directing and producing a video. By the time it was launched, I had the bug.

So I was thinking, in a momentary gap this week, about my next video, when it occurred to me to check on the original effort.

YouTubers tend to be a little stats-obsessed. Spend a little time navel-gazing online, and the number of visitors who monitor your social and artistic health, as if flocking to an aging Southern Belle sipping a mint julip in the shade of a grand old front porch, become an imperative.

So I went to my “favorites,” clicked on the video, and, in a blink, I’m in, listening to the opening voice over — which hopefully sounds natural, but took forever to perfect.

The first thing to check is the number of views. I’m at 998 — almost a four-digit score, which sounds big to me. Next, the ratings … still four stars. Then I look at the comments. There are some nice ones, including kudos for the actress heading the cast and — wait! I’ve been slimed! Right there on the top! One night stands and no strings sex at …

Oh, no; I’m not going to tell you where to go or who posted the invitation. Even worse, it’s been there for four weeks! (Reminder to self: check creative work more than once a month.)

Thank goodness for that button that invites me to rate the comment as spam; it vanished almost instantaneously. This must happen all the time. Who knew?

Yes, I know this was anonymous and not aimed at me personally, but for a moment I felt like it was sixth grade again, when the kid in the back of the room wrote dirty notes about me. Or in fifth grade, when the son of a famous actress sang a nasty song about me every time I got on the school bus.

This cyberspace is sort of universal and public and anonymous all at once. Granted, less than 1,000 people had seen this work, but having someone write an explicit invitation on it, as if this little video was attracting the kind of people who were interested in no-strings sex. Argh!

Cyberspace is also very democratic, and I’d best make note of what kind of risks I’m willing to take. Anyway, I can’t be ungrateful to anyone who looks at what I create. Except, of course, I also have to consider that this was probably one of those robot things that automatically leave spam, like the recorded telemarketing ploys …

Sigh. A real live fan is hard to find.

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