Thursday, October 30, 2008

Collaboration, not Masturbation

Do you think it's possible to have TRUE collaboration in a theatrical production?
There seems to be a growing number of artists who are embracing the idea of collaboration in theatre. Many smaller companies nowadays are touting themselves as "collectives" or "ensembles" rather than "companies." Why do you think this is? Seeing as Ignite's full name uses "company," do you even think it really matters?


So to answer the main question I guess I should first define what I believe is truly collaborative form of theatre (correct me is this isn’t what you meant). I thinks its when the people involved in the show, in all facets, director, stage managers, designers, performers, the dreaded producer, and of course our oh so fantastic audiences are all unified, from the pitch to closing, in making the show. Everybody wants the same thing and are willing to compromise, listens to everybody’s ideas and work harmoniously for the betterment of the show to make it the best it can be. That doesn’t mean they all have to like each other outside of protective realm of the theatre, but that they are willing to put aside their difference and work together or, dare I say, collaborate for the sake of the art.

Do you see it often? No. Is it likely to happen? No. But is it possible? Yes!
I have been lucky in my lifetime to have worked on one collaborative piece, in which everybody gave their all, was positive from start to finish, nobody fought or squabbled about things, and things got accomplished (for more information about this project entitled llama drama, contact Heifer International or Lauren Gunderson ).

Unfortunately we live in a very individualistic society, we are taught from young “my way is the right way” that focuses so much on the individual that the whole tends to get compromised for the part. Here pursuing my craft at the University of North Texas, I have noticed within the theatre department more people are so concerned with themselves ( i.e. their designs, their role, their direction)that they tend to not collaborate with each other leading to a sense of disharmony within the play, which is sometimes very evident and can turn a show with potential into a travesty.

If for a couple of weeks people can put their egos and need to be seen aside that collaborative theatre which dreams are on, can be achieved.
And to answer the other question, I think many theatre companies are changing their names because of two different reason.

a) They don’t want to be seen as these massive regional Theatre companies, who fly in actors from New York, and stage big time musicals with huge budgets. Those companies are, dare I say, becoming seen as the Wal-mart of theatre. Big timey corporations about making money rather than trying to create art. Don’t get me wrong, not all big regional theatre are about that. You can notice that even the bigger ones still have small projects about exposing art and creativity to the masses( Dallas theatre center DaVerse lounge , the Alliance theatre company’s Collision project )

b) Because that is what they are. They aren’t a company. They are an ensemble, or a collaborative group dedicating to trying to create collaborative style theatre which encorporates the entire company and not just select members. A group of hard working, dedicated artists who came together and want their artwork to reflect that, and thusly their name.
I hope that answers everything. It should cuz it took me forever to fucking write.

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