Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Brief Pause To Acknowledge the Blogosphere

Yes, I said I was going to spend the bulk of my time on Jamespeak to incessantly plug my forthcoming show, and I still intend on doing so. However, since there seems to be heated discussions going on in the theatre blogosphere (launched mainly by blogger Scott Walters) about theatre artists being businessmen, I figure I shold point you in their general direction, dear reader.

Check out some of the stuff here, here, here and here.

I’ve written some comments on some of the blogs about this, and I’ve mentioned some of this before right here on Jamespeak, but I’ll just reiterate my point (my position hasn’t really changed on this since Pete and I started Nosedive Productions back in 1999): the idea that a creative person should never have to worry or think about the business aspects of staging a show is the height of foolishness and naivety. When you helm your own work and want to continue helming your own work with full creative control and ownership, you need to start thinking of your company and how it works as a business.

Mr. Walters wrote in his blog:

We need to be reading books like The World Is Flat and The Experience Economy and The Long Tail and Re-Imagine and The Wisdom of Crowds figuring out how the hell they apply to what we do before we get Netflixed out of business. And rightfully so, if we can't come up with a way of creating art that reflects the 21st century. We need to get out of the Theatre section at Barnes and Noble and take a look at the Business section, because business long ago realized that constant and aggressive change is the only way to survive. Not in theatre -- we spend our time asking the world to change its attitude toward us, whining about the lack of public funding and the supposed shallowness of our audience and the crass anti-intellectualism of the American public. Get over it! The problem is the theatre, not the public!

Rather than paraphrase verbosely what I wrote to him and go on and on (like I tend to do), I’ll just reprint my comment here:

Irrelevancy is the big issue here, isn't it? When I get into my more cynical and depressed moods, I realize that many theatre artists are hell-bent on making theatre absolutely irrelevant. Theatre artists have to compete with Podcasts, DVDs, television, late-night benders, and so on, and so on, in vying for people's attention. What's worse is that many of us refuse to acknowledge this.

(And sulking about the audience bein' stupid and lazy gets us nowhere fast.)

I agree, the problem is that many of us refuse to "create art that reflects the 21st century," as you put it, and we suffer as a result. Not only that, theatre artists do have to start thinking like business people. Now, this isn't a bad thing. Actually, far from it. The faster a theatre artist can think in terms of profit margins, customers, demographics and bottom lines, the sooner he or she can become truly independent and self-sufficient.

In short: Amen, Mr. Walters. Amen. You’re really onto something here. Now if only people in the theatre world decide to listen to you, rather than continue sulking, crossing their arms and grumbling about how stupid the world is.

Always sulking,

James “Smartypants” Comtois


Blogger P'tit Boo said...

James ,

I respond to one of your comment in Scott's blog on my blog :

Cheers and please do not take offense !

5:40 AM  
Blogger Jamespeak said...

Mme. Boo,

Very nice! And absolutely no offense taken.


11:23 AM  

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