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Posts Tagged ‘arts’

Why Theatre? Revisited, I of II

February 1st, 2011 No comments

Today, through my facebook news feed, the question was posted, “Why do theatre?”  To people who have yet to experience the joy of analyzing the great many benefits for human development and cognition that theatre offers, I can appreciate that the answer to that question is not obvious.  At a time when much of the world is habitually turning to screens of all sizes for their information and communication needs for convenience, novelty or cost-effectiveness, it seems far easier to list reasons of why not to do theatre.

Theatre, in the most common of professional forms, is costly to produce, promote and limited for reproducing beyond the run of live shows, thereby limited for potential revenue.  And so came film.  I get it.  Why, indeed?  Sometimes, I am persuaded to focus on other forms of “work” by their mere practicality in the current economic climate.  Then comes along a day like today when I come across this question, “Why Theatre?”, followed by lunch with a friend and three different, but related videos.  The first one below started my morning after breakfast; posted by a theatre colleague, it had me laughing out loud!

Can you relate?  I could!   And not because I identify as having a disorder or being of the elderly demographic, but because in particular states of mind, I have experienced this unstoppable stream of linked, but seemingly disorganized thoughts and impulses that I act upon, taking me from one incomplete task to start another activity that is interrupted by a thought which brings me into another frame of focus, and so on.  Sometimes, I do return back to my initial activity, but it is highly problematic for productivity in the workforce, when I don’t.  And it seems that many many people, often creatives and innovators are often misplaced, misunderstood and highly undervalued in most workplaces and schools.  What is interesting is that others who have shared a similar experience also exhibit a great tendency – nay, an insuppressible drive for artistic expression that is as strong as the “ADD” behaviour.   Perhaps they are connected to, or inform each other.   I’m not of the opinion, however, that they are exclusive to each other, nor do I buy the claim that there is an epidemic.  If you keep reading and watch the second video in this post, you may further understand why I go on to say here that it is the larger societal structures ie. schools, laws, medicine, that are not evolving, or tranforming, at a rate which supports the human response to what is current and true.

After watching that video in the morning, I spent most of the afternoon becoming re-acquainted with a friend who is on her way towards a medical residency in plastic surgery. We had a delicious meal of Peruvian and South American delights at El Inka Latin Deli in Burnaby.   She shared her stories of a new romance and I, my recurring considerations on taking up filmmaking courses. With the fear of abandoning the riches of my formal training in applied drama and theatre, despite little monetary riches to show for it, I have been reluctant to pursue any further training that diverges from the applied theatre path.

Insightfully, Brandi points out that documentary filmmaking, the genre to which I currently feel drawn, would be bringing together all the previous training I’ve had and incorporate other pleasures of researching, writing, and collaborating with a diversity of people.  I go home with a very satisfied tummy and a full head of questions: Maybe I can still practice theatre and develop my film-making skills in a parallel and complimentary way?  It’s another art form, can I pay the bills with it?  Is it the accessibility of the medium that is my block, or my own internal maze of questions that lead to inaction?  Perhaps what my artistic voice is trying to manifest is a hybrid of these mediums.  Hybridity.  It’s how I’m made! No surprise I would fuse play with work, live performance with digital.  And my friends often check-in with the curious, “Janice, what are you up to now?” It seems adventurous, I suppose, to the observer, but it has largely been frustrating because it’s taken me yeeears, a full decade after finishing 7 years of higher education, to realize the fuller scope of my heart’s desires.  What did I expect?  Well, I’m impatient.

Poke me, for real!

September 13th, 2009 No comments

I was just scrolling my facebook home page where it highlights all the status postings of my facebook friends. While I appreciated the updates on people’s thoughts and happenings, I recognized a sad truth: I am content to read about friends on facebook without participating much beyond being witness. And likely, many more months and years will pass in which I will miss having any direct human connection with some of these friends. Does that kind of engagement still qualify as “friend” in the way that I want “friend” to be? I’ll speak now to another experience today that seems unrelated but will explain later.

This afternoon I was engaged in a very impassioned conversation with a friend and fellow artist about the state of the arts in Vancouver. This friend of mine, I’ll refer to her here as Tina, meets all sorts of people as a temp administrator in corporate offices and many of them claim not to know where to look to find arts and culture events in Vancouver. I speculated that those were excuses from people who simply had not made the effort to find out. Tina replied, “No, there was a person I worked with that had not ever heard about the Georgia Straight!” I find that difficult to believe, but then all I have to do is put myself into the lifestyle of someone whose priorities are focused on many other things other than the arts and I understand. In this diverse rich city of Vancouver, there are many options: hockey, outdoor sports, casinos, pubs, over-time at the office, outdoor sports, casinos, hockey! Being one whose career has revolved around the Arts, it’s a great challenge to imagine a lifestyle that does not involve being a patron of dance, music, theatre, museums and galleries. It’s a challenge to imagine it and more sad that there are many for whom, this is reality. Why do we not get excited about the theatre and other live performing arts in B.C. the way we get behind beer and hockey?! Again, here I’ll travel a little off the current…

I just attended the live tv recording of the Canadian Country Music Awards at GM Place and while yes, many more were able to view it at home on their televisions, there is nothing that will ever replace the experience of witnessing a live performance. Social online medias, tv, films, video recordings on mobile phones, even video conferencing; while all are extremely valuable and create opportunities to communicate at much higher rates of efficiency than a knock on the door or stage productions, they will never satisfy a basic human desire to be present with each other live! Eye to eye, voice to ear, hand to hand, energetic human vibrations!

As I’ve written this, I am in awe of the space that we have in this world via the internet and this website, to give voice to our thoughts. That is something incredibly powerful and amazing that humans have created this ability to access ideas, thoughts, images and sounds globally, instantaneously. And the results of my words getting out into cyberspace, I cannot control nor fully know. And yet, it feels lonely still. Sure, one can reach a potentially wider audience using a television broadcast, making a film or adding faces on facebook, but when I look back on the experiences of my day, it was all the person to person experiences that were the most satisfying. When I sat in a venue filled with thousands of enthusiastic people cheering for the accomplishments of artists, when I sat across the table from a friend smiling and sharing stories over dinner, when I could hug my friend who made it possible for me to attend the music awards, and yell and poke his arm (not a facebook poke!) with excitement when my favourite artist came on to perform, these are moments unsurpassed and irreplaceable by technologies.

And so what was all this to express? Well, I guess I’m just reflecting upon the development of a habit to be passive when so much of technology affords us the convenience to be so. It is so easy not to make the effort to look someone in the eye because there is a text message to answer, or to gather with community, friends and family because facebook just updates us anyway, to go to live theatre because cable comes right into the home. I am reminding myself to spend time in-person and be present with people and places and other living creatures that I care for as often as I can, Today! The technology is meant to facilitate it, not give an excuse or distraction not to! Today was a nice balance.