Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Eve of Eves

On the eve of the inauguration of not only a new president but what could be a new era of optimism, I am reading Plato’s Republic. I’m prepping for class in which we will be discussing Aristotle’s Poetics which is (arguably) a response to Plato’s challenge to defend the role of arts in his ideal state. I am in no way an expert on Greek philosophy, and honestly have only ever studied Aristotle as relevant to dramatic structure. That won’t stop me from publicly musing. You’ve been warned.

When Plato wrote, poetry was an essential component of education. Art didn’t need to be championed, as it was the norm in the social order. In fact, art was so not-fragile that it could easily stand Plato’s (reluctant?) criticism as potentially disruptive to the ideal state and a corruption of the populous.

If tomorrow really ushers in a new era, is it folly to think the arts may play a larger role in reshaping our national identity? Our almost-president talks about art more than any president has since Kennedy. He has a task-force and everything.

I don’t mean to suggest that with all the poop the new administration inherits tomorrow, the arts ought to be their top priority, but it sure would be nice if all this change brought about a renaissance of American art. The “greatest” political leaders of history not so coincidentally overlap with the “greatest” artists.

Fingers crossed, B.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In Defense of Dramaturgy, Part 1

In a scant few hours I will begin infecting young minds with the art of dramaturgy. As I prepare for the class, and reread all the sordid history of the subject, I am reminded of the shear breadth of the discipline. Some of the earliest uses of the word incorporate the varied aspects of theatrical production into non-theatrical contexts (see Jewish War by Josephus, 75-9 ce). Granted, the uses of the term are not always...complimentary. Nor do they encompass the many tasks of the contemporary American dramaturgy. But, it is this very vagueness, openness that has always attracted me to the field. I think over the next few weeks, I will share what I have learned from class, and what I have imparted on them. A new, ongoing series, if you will, to defend the likes of dramaturgy.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Change Like We Used To

A gloomy peace this Monday brings...and news of some homegrown political activism. Our soon-to-be president (which I will rant about sooner or later) as spent his inter-election-inaugural period soliciting the views of the people. He claims he would like a participatory public/government relationship. So, let's call his bluff, shall we?
There is a petition you can sign asking the president-elect to include the arts in his stimulus package - 1% of the package to be precise. We, artists and art-enthusiasts, are not a couple of hippie freaks. We are a major constituency contributing real dollars and jobs, in addition to our immeasurable cultural impact. Don't believe me? Read this article in the Boston Phoenix from last year.
So, sign the petition already!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year's, readers (or Meg).
I hope 2008 ended well for you and that 2009 brings health, wealth and many a good time.
I find something inherently false about New Year's resolutions - this isn't entirely my idea, but the more I think about it, the more I agree. If you REALLY wanted to make a change in your life, you'd make it regardless of what month it is. New Year's resolutions have a whiff of setting yourself up to fail, by setting up pipedreams on an arbitrary day with everyone else.
That being, said, January 1st is a little easier to remember than July 23, so why not set some turg-resolutions here and now? Apparently the trick to a good resolutions is to identify measurable, realistic goals. These aren't very good resolutions by those standards.
First, foremost, and the most obviously, I will write more frequently. Full stop.
Second, I will see more theatre - I will pay to see more theatre. I tend to be a bit of selective (I'm a snob) about what I will see, nevermind pay to see. This frugality is misplaced and doesn't make me a constructive member of the Boston Theatre Community.
Third, I will see more art, music, film and dance and write about it.
Don't think you are getting off that easily. Here are some resolutions I'd like to see for the Boston Theatre Community.
* I would like to see more new work. Brand, spanking new.
* I would like to see more collaboration between companies and between artistic disciplines.
* I would like to see theatres attempt to attract new audiences by trying out different work that might appeal outside their comfort zone.
* I would like audiences demand more from artists and artists demand more from audiences.

To a bold, new year. Salute.