two knowledgable people can see the same production and have vastly
different views on it's value is a lesson we need to consider in the
way new works are facilitated. Each person who views a work of art
and particularly theatre weighs different aspects of it in very
personalized ways; and often in ways that are not obvious or within
the consciousness of the viewer.
same applies to collaborators on a project. While someone's opinion
may be of value, it is the writer and whoever is the architect of the
production who must have final discretion on what eventuates.
all the attention given to structure, form and technique in the
development of play writing skills we need to come back to serious
consideration of content. While content consists of a limited number
of plots, content is also context, weighting of action, cultural
significance, complexity of motivation, ethics, confusion, belief and
the list can be extended. Perhaps a forgotten part of content is the
inescapable aspect of the writer's own dramaturgy which plays in
prime position for the creation of an authentic voice.
how much creation of theatre just happens to coincide with the
belief system and viewpoints of colleagues! Is this coincidence or a
sign of betrayal?
a sign of suspicion against anyone who actually has something to say!
vision can be tarnished, hampered and contaminated by the
interference of familiar and influential others in the process. So
what happens when a benevolent committee is given power to influence
the way a writer sees the world and manifests that vision in a
script? The only result is a blanding out to lowest common
denominator values and a divorce from the "i" of personal creation.
something easier on the cultural palate does not necessarily make it
better. But you can be sure that if you say something original or
heart felt, you'll attract hate mail or, at the least, cause a
separation from your congenial companions whom you most likely have
been affirming in their smug assurances for years!
of ideas and recognition of your execution of the craft is mostly
due to a marketing ploy rather than the adequacy or artistic value of
your work. If you want acceptance then, sure be competant; but also
get your work marketed cleverly to have it positioned in the right
sectors that are going to be of benefit.
this article isn't about marketing. It's about self-censoring looking-over-the-shoulder
artists and arts practice being engendered by the arts funding
bodies (including The Australia Council) and by organizations and
individuals that control the "cool factor". The mantra of
seeking out "partnerships" could also be called the mantra
of "dumbing down" or "repressing individual
thought" or "the camels of creativity"!
doesn't have to look far to see art presentations (ie. theatre,
visual art, installations, music) that have been so constructed as to
say nothing. NOTHING! At least nothing other than interpretations
from the semantic double talk of post modern cool! Talk that
challenges nothing and puts nothing at stake! And sure, no government
or big time gangsters are going to remove one's fingers or tongue or
heart for producing such work! Sure, no family members are likely to
shun the artist for perpetrating such meaningless double-speak! Maybe
a condescending pat on the head might be in order as if to signify
that one day the artist will grow up! And as for theatres and theatre
companies, they can hide behind the facade of only presenting what
the bottoms on seats will attend; mind you, that doesn't stop them
requesting hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds for such
bland and non-challenging offings!
truth is no one knows! Most funding bodies are occupied by the
equivalent of Bob Dylan's Mr Jones; the kind of person who knows that
something is happening but doesn't know what it is. They are
frightened people who know how to play the games of polite social
intercourse and how to cover their political backs. The cool artists
have their ears; but only for a short time. At some point the ears
will be held by some other expert ear bender and the cool artist will
only be a tepid artist or wet fish.
what choices do artists have to get their work on and seen?
a start, they shouldn't give a hoot what those assessment panels
suggest they SHOULD do. They are only trying to sound intelligent and
save their jobs. Instead, know what you are about and not necessarily
the finer points of what you want to explore. Then create a buzz.
Bipass the bureucratic process initially. Find ways to utilize the
media (even if they hate you) and then invoke the political process.
your colleagues like what you do, chances are you aren't doing
anything! Make them jealous of you. Their spite towards you will add
energy to what you are doing. Work on the political reasons why a
Minister or powerful business type should support you. In a short
time, the funding bodies will find reasons to see why they are
COMPELLED to fund you. The true reason being that they fear for their
jobs if they displease the Minister or whatever power that controls them.
in brief, I suggest artists and theatre practitioners and companies
need to consider their own dramaturgies. Assume others will hate you;
assume those who work with you will accept you to a point and then
negate you; accept your own life and hunch as to what must be done.
Essentially, as an artist, you need to seek out like people who trust
you and who you can trust. But don't be sentimental. Trust is earned
over a long period. Essentially, others will eventually come to you
only if you are unwavering in your own surety of what you are and
where you are going. The problem for most theatre arts today is that
people don't know and try to fake it by seeking out what they think
if you think I'm full of it, I suggest you do some research.
it. Are YOU REALLY JUST MR JONES? and if you have no idea who or
what I am talking about, then check out Highway 61 Revisited.