As a writer, I find this frightening

As an author, I find this situation chilling:

A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Maryland, middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—”taken in for an emergency medical evaluation” for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace’s Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, according to news reports from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future.

What do you think?

The Authentic Bio

Have you ever written a bio before? Maybe for your personal website or for some event or conference where you have to describe yourself. Did you write that bio in the third person? Its very common. In fact, its pretty much the way its done across the board. Here’s my bio from my last production:

A founding member of Keystone Theatre, Phil Rickaby is an actor and playwright. His play The Parliamentarians will be presented at the Red Sandcastle Theatre at the end of May. Some of Phil’s favourite roles include: The Player in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Randy in Stephen Near’s Out of Character, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Gormless Joe in the Belle of Winnipeg and The Last Man on Earth with Keystone Theatre. Find him online at www.philrickaby.com and on Twitter @philrickaby

Recently, Sarah Vermunt was talking about authenticity for a conference she was speaking at, and one of the things she mentioned was the fact that everyone writes a bio in the third person, but everyone knows that the subject of the bio is also the writer of the bio. Sarah’s bio is in first person, and in her talk she recommended that as a way of being more authentic.

I thought this was a great idea. “But,” I thought, “you could never do that in theatre.” And then I thought: “Why do I think that?” And the reason is: because that’s not how I was taught to do it. Because that’s “How we do it”. In theatre, when we put a bio in the program, its written by the actor or director in third person. I’m not sure if there’s a reason for this.

Is it so that the average audience member will think that it was written the production’s publicity department? Or is it because its easier for use to blow our own horns about what we’ve done in the past by making it sound like someone else wrote it? What would happen if we wrote our bios in the first person? Would we say the same things? Would people think that we’re being arrogant or bragging? Or would it seem more authentic? Would you be able to make more of your personality come through? And is that a good thing?

Actors and theatre professionals: what do you think?