Thoughtful and candid discussion and commentary on the performing arts by "those who do." This is a forum meant to reflect what's currently on the minds of working actors, directors, designers, producers and writers.
David Dower has an astonishing piece on what he calls The Scarcity Matrix up on Howlround. Here's an interesting paragraph from this must-read post.
We used the Scarcity trigger to corral an audience for ourselves and hang onto them out of fear they’ll migrate to “our competitors in the market.” We adopted the Scarcity Principle to drive generations of artists into MFA factories because, without that credential they’d not be able to compete in the open market for the scarce opportunities available to new voices. We adopted the Scarcity Principle to build the endowments and a competitive advantage in our markets, and tied up that capital forever in the hands of the few, the proud, the chosen—ourselves. Now we are the gatekeepers and long lines are forming outside our doors. We used it to build our Boards, promising prospects that our Board was more prestigious and their contributions would mean more if given to “us” than to “them.” We celebrated our success in this zero-sum competitive frame with press releases about box office records, enormous donations, celebrity appearances, and transfers.
Lydia Stryk has a fascinating piece up on HowlRound about a movement to guarantee artists a living wage. And Stryk's wonderful piece (not all of which I agree with) is just the tip of the iceberg. There's an ocean of online commentary these days on art-making and the question of its sustainability in our current economic structure. I wonder why this might be happening.
Maybe it's just that a lot of over-educated folks with upper-middle-class parents (myself included) bought the story they were sold about devoting one's life to the creation of art: You can do it.
Or put another way:
You can be whatever you want to be.
Has there ever been a more profoundly dangerous message conveyed to an entire generation?
So, have you heard about this thing that happened? The artist, Bansky, set up a table in central park to sell his work for $60 a canvass when they usually go for the thousands. This video is amazing to watch.
And, well, that got me thinking of the Joshua Bell stunt from a few years back.
I am grateful for being able to post on Extra Criticum and am sorry I haven't in a long while. I could use the excuse that I now do a weekly internet radio show, work a day job and play poker on the weekends so who the hell has time for a single thing more but that would not be coming from a very grateful place now would it?
So here I am posting, partly in response to Roland's last post and partly because I have been discussing and debating the topic of what artistic success is on my show, The Unknown Zone Talk Show, fairly regularly.
For at least two years before the birth of Extra Criticum, it seems that my old pal Robert Sullivan had been prodding me to start blogging. “You need a blog. Every writer should have a blog. Have you thought about starting a blog yet? I really think you ought to consider it.” I don’t know why I resisted. Well, actually, I do. I resisted the idea of starting my own blog because it struck me then as somewhat narcissistic. A journal of my thoughts, feelings and opinions—not to mention mundane actions—posted online for all the world to see? Why bother? What a bore!
So I told Robert the only way I would consider blogging was if it was a group undertaking. I didn’t want to create a space where all the musings of one Roland Tec would be posted ad nauseum. I’d feel a lot more comfortable if I could do so in the company of good friends and colleagues.
Tammy Ryan has a fascinating and troubling piece up on Howlround. Here's a quote:
I have never owned a gun, never touched a gun, never even ever seen a real
gun. I don’t share Khakpour’s obsession, but the characters in my plays
do. Not in all of them—just the most successful ones, the ones that
have been sanctioned by the powers that be as “good,” the plays that
receive professional development, multiple productions, get published,
and win awards. In each one of those plays a character either, has a
gun, shoots a gun, is threatened by a gun, threatens someone else with a
gun, is afraid of guns or is somehow traumatized by the violence of a
This is a deeply disturbing revelation for me for several reasons.
Some of you may know that I'm making a documentary, A Life's Work. Currently, I'm editing. On the film's blog I've written quite a bit about the editing process, but I thought this post might be something some performing artist's could relate to. Am I right on this? Let me know.
Wow. What an eye opening experience I had yesterday!
When Micheline Auger approached me about sitting in a storefront window and playwriting for a few hours I must admit I didn’t really think it through before jumping on board. The audacity of the idea eclipsed any questions I might have had about how it would feel to share such a personal process in public.
As the day drew closer I found myself worrying about it. Not quite regretting, but fretting over which play I would expose to the world. Should I revise an old gem that I adore? Or should I continue forward on my epic exploration of the rise of Ted Kennedy?
In the end I arrived at what felt to me the perfect choice.
This really cool thing put together by Micheline Auger. Check it out:
WHAT IT IS:
An installation of emerging and emerged playwrights writing new plays in the store front of the Drama Book Shop. In each two hour time slot, a different playwright will work on their play while the screen shot is projected behind them visible to the street. The public can engage and support the playwright via the Write Out Front Facebook page, Twitter and Website and follow the development of the play and writer after the installation ends.