SOME FUNDAMENTAL ASSUMPTIONS THAT I’LL PROBABLY ADD TO LATER:
Theater is a collaborative, social art form
This is not true of all art forms. I have a friend of the family who draws. She is an artist. She has models come in to her studio and she sketches them. She works very hard on her artwork. She has never shown it to anyone beyond her husband. To this day, as far as I know, no one has seen her artwork. She’s been doing this for decades.
This sort of thing is not possible in theater, or rather, it is possible, but such theater is not what I’m discussing here and not what I’m interested in doing. Theater is a collaborative, social art form. Ah, but what do I mean by that? Isn’t my family friend in some sense collaborating with the models, the same way a songwriter who composes for a specific singer is collaborating with that singer?
My answer would be no, the artist and the composer mentioned above are inspired by these people. The people become the raw materials the art is made out of, instead of key components of the art making itself.
By a collaborative, social art form, I mean that theater is created by groups of artists coming together and co-creating a work of art. Each brings their individual strengths, trainings, desires, interests, abilities and roles and each gives to the collective whole that is to be created. This art for is then shared, live and in the flesh, and thus becomes an occasion of social interaction between the audience and the artist, between the artists and each other, between various audience members etc.
Real Collaboration Comes From Creating A Group Vision
By this I do not mean that everyone needs to vote on every idea or anything like that. What I mean is that in a real collaborative process, it is not everyone’s job to “realize” any specific member of the artistic team’s “vision”, be it the writer, the director the actors or anyone else. There is no one “author” of a given theatrical work if the collaboration went according to plan. The group works together to create this new thing out of the raw materials at hand.
There Are No Platonic Ideals; None of Us Really Know What We’re Doing
There aren’t necessarily “right” and “wrong” ways to do theater (although there are legal and illegal ones). What we have are conventions, styles and rules that have developed over time. Each of those conventions, styles and rules were developed to address specific needs in specific times. Many of the conventions/styles/rules that we hold on to could very well be dated and obsolete and certainly we shouldn’t fear reexamining everything and throwing out anything that is useless.
You cannot do something different by doing something in exactly the same way
This is related to No Platonic Ideals. If we really want to change theater, we must change how theater is done. I believe this is true of politics as well, but that’s for another time.
Creation is a giving act and therefore the activity of giving is what we should be focusing on
Sort-of self-explanatory, and something I’ll be discussing in a lot more depth later. Art is a gift we give our audience. The process of creating should be a giving process to each other. I believe that it is currently set up to be primarily a getting process, and this is one of the fundamental things that must change.