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August 31, 2006

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Ian W. Hill

Well, here's my company boilerplate, written 1999, revised just this week, that tries to explain it in some way:

Gemini CollisionWorks was founded by multidisciplinary artist Ian W. Hill in 1997 as an umbrella title for his work in various media. The company is dedicated to the collision of various traditional and non-traditional artistic forms and ideas (both from "high" and "low" art/craft traditions) within the new object or event being created; a collision which allows for virtuous gaps in the Work to appear. Gaps into which the audience can project itself, learning and finding with us new ways of experiencing the worlds of feeling, thought, action, interaction, science, rationalism, belief, irrationalism, and spirit through the manipulation of text, space, sound, light, setting, and performance in an artistic Totality. As collaborators in these Works, the interpreter-workers involved strive to present images and feelings of a world that transcends ours, or reflections of a world that must be transcended, through all aspects available to us in our Art.

Reconstruction, not deconstruction.

GCW is now Ian W. Hill (arts) and Berit Johnson (crafts) and a rotating crew of about 50 vaguely-affiliated actor/workers.

George

To imitate Ian above, here's theatre minima's:

"theatre minima was founded in 2006 with the intent of stripping the theatre to its essential elements—the living body and the spoken word—in recovering the original urge of the art to describe the tragedy of bodied human experience; to suggest a redemption from suffering through heightened narrative, lyricism, and the body; to explore through scripted drama and performance the tensions between the spirit and the body, tragedy and comedy, love and violence, the noumenal and the phenomenal, Eros and Thanatos.

"theatre minima, however, does not seek to reinvent either the theatre or the wheel, recognizing that it can build on techniques and sensibilities of the past and extend these techniques with the precision of contemporary technology (where indicated) and theatre practice. Bertolt Brecht’s use of the verfremdungseffekt to examine contemporary culture, Richard Foreman’s combination of this with Gertrude Stein’s project of constructing and anatomizing consciousness and the body with language, Samuel Beckett’s austere aesthetics of the negative—all of these provide a foundation for the continuing exploration of spoken language, consciousness, and sensuality that the theatre as an art form uniquely provides."

Josh Costello

I've always wanted to turn young people on to theatre by making plays that speak to the present moment. I founded Impact Theatre in Berkeley right after college with the mission specifically to make plays for our generation; they're still going strong (www.impacttheatre.com) though I left to do grad school and freelancing. Lots of new plays, lots of Shakespeare, occasionally something in between.

What works best for me is putting the personal crisis of the characters at the forefront, no matter how stylized the production.

Joshua James

Hmmm,

Well, it's something I mull quite a bit and have ever since the early nineties.

The company I founded with Ato, The Defiant Ones, had simply the mission of "the pursuit of excellence."

Both our our careers have taken us away from The Defiant Ones (although hopefully only temporarily) and so I've been pondering my own personal mission as a writer.

The only words that seem to fit (other than the Japanese one I use as the logo for my site, which is difficult to translate) and this is only at this time, is that I strive to for work which adds to life rather than subtracts, advances social and spiritual change, and helps us all smile at death rather than recoil in fear. My own personal mission is to find rather than lose myself in the work and to achieve excellence of craft.

Hope that doesn't seem too pretentious, but for me the answer to these kind of questions always is difficult to honestly articulate.

jaime

Hm. This is interesting, because my theatre company's mission is more about How than What or Why - "Temporary Theatre Company gives emerging theatre artists the chance to take on leadership roles and to create art they are passionate about. We provide young theatre artists with opportunities that would otherwise be years off, supporting them in their growth and exploration."

I don't tend to question *why* we do theatre - we just do. It's art, it's stories, it's entertainment. I think those are basic enough to humanity or society that I don't feel the need to interrogate *why* - it's like asking why people kiss.

So the thing I can interrogate is why I think certain work has value. First, there's the question of what is a "new play," which is the only mission type idea that I regularly spout. I want plays that are New, not just recently written. It doesn't have to be reinventing the form or turning it on its head (and such extreme newness often feels more about being new than the specific piece), but it's doing something new and interesting with theatre. That usually means that energy and attention are invested in the form and language of the piece, not only the story.

As a producer, it doesn’t really come from what I think of as the usual types of missions – it’s more practical than theoretical or ideological. It’s about taking work that I think has value, that I think is worth seeing, bringing it to life, and getting it seen. As for what has value, I don’t have a rubric or list of guidelines. As an audience member, I know what theatre can do. I know how it can be powerful, the different ways I can be moved or amused, made to think or absorbed in a spectacle. And what I want to do is do that for an audience.

Sean Williams

I've been reading here for the longest time, but I think this is the first time I've posted. Mac Rogers, Jordana Davis and I started a theater company six years ago (although the three of us have been working together for 12 years) and we had a mission statement, and then we sorta re-wrote it at some point, and I think we've got it kicking around somewhere.

But the best advice we got when we started out was from a friend who was on the (then unknown) downward trajectory of his Little New York Theater Company who said, "You aren't gonna know who you are for a couple of years".

I'm not sure what Gideon Productions started out trying to do, I can't remember what we said back then, but we've figured out now that we try to address political and social ideas by using established art forms and turning them on their ear. Or ears, I guess.

I'm only posting to suggest that mission statements are examples of what one thinks one wants to do, but after you've created your own little borg, you might find that the theater you create organically takes on the shape of the creators involved and you might end up with something completely different. In our case at least, remaining open to that has been one of the important parts of staying happy with our work.

isaac

Honestly, I think I was looking less for cut-and-pasted mission statements from websites, but something more personal. What people believe their missions are as artists.

Ian W. Hill

Isaac,

Well then, my mission statement is a long way of saying my personal mission as an artist, which is, to request my audience look at aspects of the world through new eyes for a time, which I hope will deepen understanding of themselves, humanity, the world we live in, and the relation of all these to each other.

George Hunka

I have to agree with Ian here -- the mission statement for theatre minima is a public definition of a very personal calling (a better word, with its spiritual connotation, rather than "mission," with its organizational connotation).

One either interiorizes a form and an impulse beyond words -- especially theatre, which offers so few organizational and material rewards -- or perhaps one is in the wrong business. The dynamic between what one wishes to express and how one wishes to express it is a psychic dynamic that permits little intelligibility in the fifty words of a mission statement to potential funders. I know I've got very specific personal reasons why I do theatre. But they're not for the likes of comments sections, and even if they were, they would be beyond my capability of direct, expository expression. Otherwise I wouldn't write theatre at all.

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