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Invaluable and Illicit: ‘Slime Tutorials’ for an Online Generation

“Slime tutorials” refer to illegal bootleg recordings of theater shows, usually those on Broadway and West End.
“Slime tutorials” refer to illegal bootleg recordings of theater shows, usually those on Broadway and West End. By Angel Zhang
By Neeraja S. Kumar, Contributing Writer

What comes to mind when you think of a slime tutorial? Hundreds of videos of children using glue and borax to make some horrifying concoction, perhaps? For the theater community, the phrase’s meaning may not be what you would expect. “Slime tutorials” refer to illegal bootleg recordings of theater shows, usually those on Broadway and West End. The question remains, however, whether these recordings should be encouraged, given that they’re illegal.

Despite the very obvious legal implications of the slime tutorial, it’s important to comprehend why a need for Broadway bootlegs have arisen in the first place. The root cause of this phenomenon stems from a bigger problem: the inaccessibility of Broadway shows. The majority of individuals have never seen “Wicked,” “Be More Chill,” or “Hamilton,” in person. It’s hard to gain access to such shows, due to both cost and geographical barriers.

Broadway is more than just legendary theater performances. It’s not just an example: It’s the standard. Thousands of performers dream for their chance to be on Broadway while millions of people wish to attend a show in person, and as such, Broadway has been elevated to an almost mythic standard in the world of theater. To be on Broadway is to have made it. To be on Broadway is to be living the dream.

However, this dream is not fully accessible for the majority of theatergoers, often for a variety of reasons. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, Broadway shows, which were already expensive, increased in price — a report from CNBC in 2022 estimated a significantly higher average ticket price in 2022, compared to in March of 2020.

There is also the issue of geography. Broadway shows are in New York City and targeted towards those who can afford it. For individuals interested in the productions that Broadway produces, there are no options to see these shows other than by attending a local or community production(which are often less well-funded than a Broadway show) or viewing Broadway recordings in any way possible.

Enter the slime tutorial, a play on the viral internet sensation of the putty-like substance that people once poked, prodded, and made in their homes. Slime was fun to play and work with, and perhaps that is an unintentional parallel of its theatrical counterpart. Labeling bootlegs as slime tutorials on online video sharing platforms allows users to watch the videos without them being taken down. Videos titled “a really good red blue green and yellow slime tutorial (reupload)” or “tap dancing eggs the musical” parade around the interwebs, giving online users the experience of watching a Broadway show from the comfort of their homes.

Not all bootlegs are valued for their production value — some, paradoxically, are valued for their mythically disastrous quality. An excellent example of this is “illegal heathers: for your consideration,” a notorious high school production with questionable character interpretations that is renowned for its shockingly bad quality. Although people may watch to mock the subpar production, the show is monumental in establishing an expectation for theater. Despite every theater production deserving appreciation for all the work that went into it, there are also times where one needs to laugh at a show’s absurdity.

The comments under these videos often share thoughtful meta-commentary on the productions, making fun of the fact that the videos are called slime tutorials by referring to the production as a “slime” in their comments and remarking on the slime’s quality or texture. Examples of such comments are “10/10 tutorial” by @Eye_S0re and “2 years later, this slime tutorial is still super helpful” by @Mariiiofc. Despite their levity, these comments show how excited viewers are to be able to watch a recording they never could otherwise. The consumers of slime tutorials are individuals genuinely excited by the world of theater and looking to be more involved.

That’s not to say that the slime tutorial is a good thing. Realistically, they are an example of piracy that infringes on not only the law but also the hard work of other people. Although the system in place is understandably frustrating for consumers, there are also significant inequities that come from watching material that is recorded.

However, a downside to the increased accessibility of “slime tutorials” may be the inflated expectations that they create for local productions with lower budgets. All theater productions take significant time, energy, and financial capital to put together. However, with Broadway being the standard, the increased availability of bootlegs may inflate the expectations of theatergoers to an unreasonable amount, making them less satisfied with local productions of the same shows. As a result, bootlegs are not only illegal, but add to an unhealthy standard of what an audience expects from their local production.

Slime tutorials were an important part of the childhoods of many theater lovers, but they also represent an ongoing problem in terms of the illegal recording of shows. Slime tutorials are not the solution to this existing issue, but rather a symptom of a larger problem of theater’s inaccessibility. This problem can only be addressed by a greater accessibility for Broadway and, hopefully, a greater push to address this issue of inequity in the future.

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