Showing posts from June 18, 2006

Simple Question

Over at Creative Generalist, Steve Hardy is blogging about things he has learned at a conference in Toronto called IdeaCity. He writes:

Steven Rechtschaffner, former CCO of Electronic Arts, touched on several creative points. When presented with an idea, he says that the best response is the simple question, "What inspired it?" Learning of the inspirational root helps ground the idea, attaches a story to it, and fleshes it out a bit more. He praised the power of naivete, remarked on how art imitates life imitates art, and advised that if you're an idea person you must seek out cultures of "yes" and leave cultures of "no".

What a terrific question to ask first, rather than "what's wrong with this idea?"

The Model (Draft) -- Part 2

As promised in Part 1 of this draft of a model theatre, the topic is now "The Artist in the Community." What I mean by this can be described best by taking apart a sentence in the previous post: "What does my community need right now?"

As a question, it sounds simple, but has several separate parts each with different, but conjoined, ramifications.

First, "my community" indicates that you are part of the community, and it is part of you -- no more Mysterious Outsider. Thus, the term "embedded." I know: the current connotations make me uncomfortable too, so let's try to disconnect them. I mean the broader definition of embedded: To cause to be an integral part of a surrounding whole. MY community means that you are an integral part of it, you claim it as yours, it emcompasses you. To some extent, this is a change from the modernist norm, which placed the artist outside of the community and valorized the perspective allowed by this disconne…

Addendum to Model -- Part 1

Thank you, Alison, for this quotation from Australian playwright Daniel Keene, who, in his graduation address to the Swinburne University of Technology's Small Companies and Community Theatre Course, said about the theatres in France that receive public funds:

An important point to note is that these subsidies are granted only if the theatre fulfils a legal requirement that the theatre provide a public service. This public service can take many forms and is often called Social Action (it's what we in Australia would call Community Theatre). The same goes for National Theatres.
There are many kinds of Social Action, ranging from actors and directors running workshops or performing plays in prisons and in hospitals, working with handicapped people, running classes and performing in schools and workplaces and running workshops for specific groups such as new immigrants, the unemployed, single parents, retired people, etc. All of this is offered to the people involved at no cost to …

Point of Intersection: Time, Energy, and R & D

I see an important point of intersection between Isaac's post "Let's Talk Technology," in which he writes that "from an aesthetic perspective, I think that in theater we have not figured out how to respond to the invention of television and film. Not really"; Matthew Freeman's "Work / Life /Art Balance," which starts out "Work and Life Balance is a constant struggle for most working adults. Add a desire for a life in the arts, and many of us are in the midst of a constant battle of attention, exhaustion and dedication"; and my post "Before I Begin," in which I complain "Things are changing at the speed of light, and we are dawdling, tinkering at the edges of how and what we create" and I urge that we need to "leap-frog" into the future.

The point of intersection: it takes a great deal leisure and energy to think up new ideas, and most working theatre artists are exhausted from trying to make ends meet whi…

Welcome, Poor Player

A new theatre blog by an academic -- and one who promises to talk about the idea of "professionalism" soon! Welcome Tom of Buffalo! See the sidebar!

The Model (Draft) -- Part 1

OK, here I go, responding to Brian's request for a Vision. I am going to start with the umbrella concept that permeates every other detail (and this will not be new to anyone who has read this blog in the past):


What do I mean by this? Do I mean that a theatre should only do plays about the community where it lives? Absolutely not.

What I mean is that some theatres -- the theatres I am creating a model for here -- would be a part of the community where they are situated, and should also form a community around themselves.


I believe there should be theatres that are "embedded." I choose that word because of its recent connotations with journalists who are embedded with troops in Iraq. An embedded journalist trades one thing in order to receive another. He trades away total independence in order to acquire an inside view; what he sees is, to some extent, controlled by the community within which he is embedded, but at the s…

Something to Be Learned? -- Part Two

Steve Rubel over at Micro Persuasion summarizes, in a post called "Media - Mass = Journalism 2.0," an article that recently appeared in the Washington Post entitled "As the Internet Grows Up, the News Industry Is Forever Changed." While the article itself focuses on how journalism is being changed by the internet, Rubel broadens the focus: "It's a must read for every PR professional. If you're doing your job the same way you did five years ago, look out. The floor you built your career on is shifting..." The bullet points he makes are as applicable to theatre PR as any other industry. How can theatre make this leap-frog? What role will the theatre blogs play? What role can they play? How can theatres benefit from this change?

June 21: I have just discovered that YS, over at Mirror Up To Nature, has posted a brilliant exploration of this in his post "Look Who's Getting Defensive, or Too Little Too Late.…

Something to Be Learned?

But Before I Begin...

Edutech blogger Clarence Fisher over at Remote Access blogs this:

Hence the need to leap - frog... We need to leave behind ideas of incrementally increasing our understanding, and incrementally changing our teaching methods, slowly bringing people up to speed. This idea worked fine when ideas of literacy and education were not rapidly changing; but they are. We need to be be able to leap - frog in our understandings, in our methods, and in our tools, allowing us to move to where the kids are. If we do not become leaders to our students, we will be followers, seen as irrelevant, and left to cry in our books while the kids are off setting the agenda.

I think the same is true of theatre. We need to leap-frog. Things are changing at the speed of light, and we are dawdling, tinkering at the edges of how and what we create. Worried about the greying of the audience? Then start leap-frogging! The revolutions of the 80s and even the 90s are Old Hat. We need to be innovating as if our life…

Describing a New Model

A good and brilliant friend of mine, Brian Santana, who sometimes reads this blog, emailed me:

I was thinking about this question the other day: youoften talk about the problems with the currenttheatrical system and the corrective measures thatshould or could be embraced to combat these ills. However, in all of this discussion, I have never beenable to form a clear picture of what the theatre thatyou describe would look like. Perhaps this is becausetheatre would be concentrated towards particularcommunities, and therefore, theatre would be slightlydifferent in each community.

Brian then goes on to use the opening of Robert Brustein's masterful Theatre of Revolt and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring as examples of writers who have painted a picture of the future as a way of defining the present, and illustrating the changes that should be made. While I am not capable of rising to the heights of a Brustein or a Carson, I do see the wisdom of his request.

So in the days that follow,…