Friday, February 22, 2008

Clancy on Steppenwolf Clones: Take-Away

For the most part, I find John Clancy's 2001 essay attacking "Steppenpups" sort of objectionable and sort of admirable at the same time. He's right: young imitators are never as good as the original. I'd love to read a similar essay that attacks much of NYC's superficial "say-it-fast-say-it-loud-say-it-without-a-pause-and-without-a-thought" style that echoes the bad old days of the 1920s. Maybe he can write that in the future (or maybe he's already written it and can provide a link).

That said, for me the money quote is this:

"If you want to create the next Steppenwolf Theatre, then do what they did. Commit to ten years with the same core of people and spend every night arguing and agreeing and thrashing around in a basement somewhere until you have your own aesthetic and vision to share."
No THAT is pure, unadulterated truth, tribal theatre folks. Print it out and tape it to your bathroom mirror so you see it every morning


Nick Keenan said...

Right! The process of creating a Steppenwolf is not the same as mimicing the content of a Steppenwolf. They had an answer and a body of work for their time, but that time is over. The process still works though: Get in a room, lock the door, hash it out, let in the world, hash it out some more. We need that little bit of meta - other people to give us the reality checks of thought and production - to help us connect with and electrify the content that matters for our time.

Chris said...

I've been working with Jim Collins' ideas from "Good to Great" - and the "lock the door and hash it out" method is perfectly in line with techniques he describes companies that move from good to great use. I also came across a study somewheres that said groups with a high degree of trust disagree more, and groups with a low degree of trust concur more.

Anonymous said...

"I'd love to read a similar essay that attacks much of NYC's superficial "say-it-fast-say-it-loud-say-it-without-a-pause-and-without-a-thought" style that echoes the bad old days of the 1920s."

Hmmm... Makes me think maybe you've seen some of my work, Scott. Back in the roaring '20s.

I started an essay awhile ago about the Tribes of New York, but it got too big and unwieldy and required that I name names, so I punked out. My work a few years back was all about speed and volume and I still say "faster" everytime I'm in a rehearsal hall.

Think Again: Funding and Budgets in the Arts

Every once in a while, I think I'll post a link or two to posts written earlier in the life of Theatre Ideas that seem worth revisiting ...