Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My My My

A small spate of aggressive dick-waving:

David Mamet makes sweeping generalizations about the intellectual and moral superiority of actors.

And Edward Albee takes a swing at all those pesky actors and directors who think they're creative.

Which leads me to this question: in a society that isn't exactly supportive of artists in general, and theatre people in particular, why do we save our largest brickbats for bashing...each other?


Anonymous said...

Simple... it's because there is a lot of voical and crapy actor/director out there. Bashing seems like the only wake up call for most people around the united states and even then... some are just clueless.

Laura said...

I can't speak on Mamet, er, I don't want to speak on Mamet but Albee is defending the rights of playwrights. This has been a huge problem for years in theater. It's been talked about in Dramatists Guild newsletters and seminars. He only touched the tip of it there.

Have you picked up a copy of the DG magazine? There's an enormous amount of information on some of the current problems. Authorship rights have slowly eroded away. It might sound like whining, but playwrights are the only group that has no union protecting them. It's a *HUGE* problem, and the DG magazine covers the results of non-unionization quite effectively.

Scott Walters said...

I understand what you are saying, Laura. Don't you think it is kind of sad that an artistic process requires unions and rights and protection? Idealistic, I know, but it seems to me that once the industrial process enters the art world, good things do not follow...

Praxis Theatre said...

Both Albee and Mamet make huge generalizations here based on their experiences, and bypass the tools of rigorous critical thinking in the process.

Their points of contention seem easily countered: some playwrights do indeed consider writing to be a collaborative act (check for proof), for example, and many actors are quite fond of, and feel supported by their teachers and even - though not to conflate the two - by casting directors.

Both appear to be writing from a place of anger and resentment. Theatre artisits are often casually looked down on by those who pursue more money-driven careers. I think Mamet is trying to speak to that point. That he's alienated his readers in the process suggests that his tone may be getting in the way of his message. Or perhaps, and maybe more likely, that he's more interested in igniting fires than in extinguishing them.

Laura said...

Yes, I do think it's sad. But the issues he's touching on are real world/business-oriented issues. They are very practical considerations for his type of theater - nonprofit and commercial. These aren't theories. The DG magazine talks about the business practicalities of all this - and how it adversely affects playwrights.

Some of us aren't interested in making money off our work, and some of us are. In the end, the business part merges with the creative aspect. Screenwriters don't own the copyright for their own work once they sell authorship of it. As a result, they aren't respected in the creative process. Ultimately, the DG is fighting for the playwright's vision and rights of authorship.

Yes, it is very sad. On the other hand, I've had directors attempt to take authorship for work I've clearly written. Collaborative process - yes. But how many people are clear on what that means? Even the most professional have boundary issues on occasion.