Friday, April 11, 2008

Mike Daisey Gets the Theatre Is Territory Treatment

Excellent interview (as always -- we really need to applaud Ian for his excellent interview questions) with Mike Daisey on the Theatre is Territory site. Lots of great stuff, but I especially liked this:
10) Why is theatre important?
Theater is important because it is the most human art form, because it is directly about the intricacies of the human heart, unfolding in an actual space in actual time between the humans on stage and the humans in the audience. It is storytelling writ large, without forgetting the core mechanic of storytelling – that the creation of narrative is the process of human consciousness, and seeing it play out, participating in that process as an audience member, is the highest calling possible in art.

Theater is not just important—I believe it is easily the most important art form that exists. In an age of increasing corporatization and identity-loss, it is a humanizing process that happens live in a space all around you, speaking directly with narrative and story to the concerns as a human being navigating the world. Theater is ourselves, the best and the worst of us, and as such we are charged with a terrible responsibility to work harder, deeper and more honestly to help ensure we’ve given it all we ever had.

I love that he says theatre is the most important art form that exists. I think that ought to be said more often. I know, I know -- comparisons are odious, but I think a little local pride might not hurt things.


Ian Mackenzie said...

Hey Scott,

Thanks for this heads up.

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how much access to great minds we have here in the theatre community. That I can sit here in my Toronto office and routinely interview North America's leading and emerging theatre makers is . . . well, it just amazes me.

Theatre people are nothing if not generous with their words.

And I tend to agree with both you and Daisey on this one: Theatre is easily the most important art form that exists. Let's run with that!

Paul Rekk said...

Yeow! Really?

That's one thing you'll *never* hear me say. The only thing in Daisey's statement that seems to separate theatre from all other live venue artforms is the insertion of the words "with narrative and story", and I fail to see how that specific inclusion has anything to do with his fingerpointing to corporatization and identity-loss.

Theatre does it different, not better. Scott, I have tremendous respect for both you and Ian, but you're absolutely right. That sort of self-trumpeting in the face of the other arts (they're on our side!) is nothing but odious.

Ian Mackenzie said...

Hi Paul,

You're right. I guess I'm more in love with the drama of the "theatre is the best art form" statement that I am with the nuts and bolts reality of it.

But let's talk this through. If theatre is the best art form, what's the worst art form?

Hint: painting.

Mike said...


I wasn't asked to prove which art form was better--I was just asked why it was important, and I answered as I feel. I could go on at more length about the value of theater (I said much the same thing that day). I thought I was pretty clear about what I thought theater did--what are the other art forms that I'm forgetting about?

"Theater does it different, not better."

Eh. That's fine to feel that way, but in my book sometimes I get tired of everything having equal value. It doesn't in my heart, so I speak as I believe.

As for self-trumpeting: well, I can't imagine the other arts (or artists--let's not anthropomorphize things too much) are going to be annoyed by this. I can't imagine they care all that much, or if they do we can have a spirited debate. Or something.


Scott Walters said...

I don't think anybody is proposing picketing the concert hall with signs that say "Don't waste your time -- theatre is better." It is really an internal attitude. I think theatre people have a little bit of an inferiority complex, which is why we are forever asking ourselves whether we are irrelevant. I do it too -- partly because we don't make much effort to BE relevant, but that's another discussion. Anyway, I liked the comment because it seemed to call up Theatre Pride -- and as Paul McCartney once sang, "What's wrong with that?"