Archive for May, 2009

Artists All A-Twitter

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Twitter T-Shirt

Photo by .imelda — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

What’s the best way for artists to use Twitter?

As posted this week in Culture News, here’s an answer from the source: Biz Stone (@biz), co-founder of the fastest growing social network tool.

In a Billboard interview with Evie Nagy, Stone offers his top tips for how artists can reach and connect with their audiences. Although Stone thinks in terms of bands, his Twitter advice easily applies to all artists.

Make Your @username Your Calling Card
If you post your Twitter address everywhere you post your name, fans and supporters will be able to easily find you — and your tweets.

Twitter Spontaneously
The Twitter goal is to use the service for direct and immediate communication. While I doubt that few people would want an hour by hour update of anyone’s life, there is something to regularly posting tweets as a way of keeping one’s followers involved. After all, it’s only a thought in 140 characters or less.

Find Music’s Tweet Spot
Stone hopes that more artists will incorporate a live stream of visible twitter posts during an event — the ultimate in audience feedback.

Establish Your Rules of Engagement
As with many new social networks, artists can not only customize their use of Twitter but also the boundaries of access.

Use the Platform Commitment-Free
Although Stone obviously wants everyone to sign up for Twitter, one can still follow Twitter posts without committing to the service

Surely, any way for fans or supporters to have personal contact from an artist is a good thing.

The more we break down barriers between the stage and the audience the better the work will be onstage. After all, our tradition of festivals comes from Ancient Greece, where there was no division between those who performed and those who watched. Everyone was part of the same community.

Now there’s a Twitter community.

Want more? To follow KadmusArts on Twitter, go to @reichblum.

- Bill Reichblum

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Can the USA Produce Art?

Monday, May 18th, 2009

NEA

Photo by Luisa Cortesao — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

The USA is very good at producing art as commerce (Hollywood), and pretty good at producing art as craft (National Endowment for the Arts).

Now, Yes-We-Can-Obama believes that USA can produce art as art.

President Obama has appointed Rocco Landesman to be the new chairman of the NEA. Landesman currently runs Jujamcyn Theatres, a Broadway theatre owning and producing organization.

Who better to lead the NEA than a producer — someone who knows how to produce art.

Landesman might have the perfect background to convince the public, connive the Congress, and conquer the press on behalf of the arts.

His parents ran a cabaret in his home town of St. Louis. Anyone whose parents proudly hosted Lenny Bruce has to be on the right side of artistic history.

Landesman received his doctorate from Yale School of Drama and then taught at Yale; left academia (another good sign) to lead a private investment company; formed a Broadway producing company with Des McAnuff; and was then hired by Jujamcyn.

Landesman is also known as a fan of country music, horse racing, and baseball. What could be more American?

Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public Theater and someone who understands well how to produce art that transforms audiences, was quoted in the Washington Post on Landesman’s nomination: “I was absolutely flabbergasted. For the theatre community, it is the most concrete evidence of Obama’s brilliance.”

A producer knows how to bring people together to contribute to a common vision. A producer knows how to analyze the costs necessary to pull off the vision. A producer knows how to find the money for the vision. A producer knows how to create an audience for the vision. A producer knows how to market the vision. A producer knows how to make art.

Rocco Landesman might just be the best person to leverage the NEA’s paltry budget request of $161.3 million for 2010 into an enterprise worthy of its mandate: a national endowment for the arts.

- Bill Reichblum

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Conservative Right Follows Wrong Theatrical Script

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Photo by Steve Stearns — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

The US Republican party has become like bad experimental theatre.

You know the kind of black box experience. It’s angry. It’s dark. It’s against everyone and everything that is successful. There might not be a clear story, but there is a lot of screaming. It’s so in love with itself that it doesn’t realize there is no one in the audience.

Republican politicians and their media stars are angry — on television, on radio, in columns, in the capitol. They yell. They scold. They present themselves against the world, against President Obama, and now even against themselves.

Jim DeMint, a Republican senator from South Carolina, is one of the leading shrill voices that wants the party to be more pure. DeMint is not one for complexity or contradictions. He believes the path to success, and to the failure of Obama, is to see the world in black vs. white, understood as one ideology vs. another, and defined as us vs. them. No surprise that subtlety disappears when one is so angry.

DeMint has an easy and clear way of defining his party. As he wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, “Republicanism is about choice — in education, health care, energy and more… a Republican recommitment to freedom and limited government.”

(Hmm. Choice? So then surely there should be no problem with a woman’s right to choose, right? Freedom and limited government? So then surely there should be no reason for the government to prevent equality for gay and lesbian relationships, right? Wrong.)

DeMint’s Republicanism isn’t about what should be done; it’s about what should not be done.

They need to learn from bad experimental art, from the mediocrities of avant-garde. These are the ones who always know better; who know what real art is; who are dismissive of success; who are contemptuous of something that actually worked.

Memo to Republicans: Don’t present yourself as being against what everyone else is for. Don’t argue your work is better by telling us how much worse the other guy’s work is. Don’t define yourself in the negative.

When times are difficult, confusing, unsteady, experimental art can lead the way forward by offering something new, something genuine, something revelatory. Picasso, Joyce, Beckett, to name just a few, did not spend their time putting down others. They spent their time putting something out. They did not run from complexity, they embraced it. They did not yell. They did not scold. They created.

If you want to inspire the next generation of voters, or audiences, don’t berate them for being deaf, dumb and blind. Guess what, no one likes that.

If only the Republicans could be inspired by Picasso, Joyce, or Beckett — that would make for better art and politics.

- Bill Reichblum

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Augusto Boal: Rehearsing the Revolution

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Augusto Boal

Photo by AnnMari — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Augusto Boal died this past weekend. He was a genuine revolutionary. A genuine artist. He was a peaceful man who saw theatre as a weapon — for liberation.

Boal experienced torture for his beliefs, exile for his art, and a high price for his cultural activism. His collection of writings in Theatre of the Oppressed has continued to spark three generations of artists’ creativity, politics, and world view.

Here for inspiration, argument, and a smile are some his words:

All theater is necessarily political, because all the activities of man are political and theater is one of them.

…the differences between the bourgeois artist-high priest, elite artist, the unique individual (who, precisely because his is unique, can be sold at a better price: the star, whose name appears before the title of the work, before the subject and theme, before the contents of what is going to be seen) — and, by contrast, the other artist, the man: the man, who because he is a man, is capable of being what men are capable of being. Art is immanent to all men, and not only to a select few; art is not be sold, no more than are breathing, thinking, loving. Art is not merchandise. But for the bourgeoisie everything is a commodity: man is a commodity. And this being so, all the things that man produces will likewise be commodities. Everything is prostituted in the bourgeois system, art as well as love. Man is the supreme prostitute of the bourgeoisie!

In the beginning the theater was the dithyrambic song: free people singing in the open air. The carnival. The feast.
Later, the ruling classes took possession of the theater and built their dividing walls.
First, they divided the people, separating actors from spectators: people who act and people who watch — the party is over! Secondly, among the actors, they separated the protagonists from the mass. The coercive indoctrination began!
Now the oppressed people are liberated themselves and, once more, are making the theater their own.

…the spectator no longer delegates power to the characters either to think or to act in his place. The spectator frees himself; he thinks and acts for himself! Theatre is action!

When we look beyond appearances, we see oppressors and oppressed people, in all societies, ethnic groups, genders, social classes and casts; we see an unfair and cruel world. We have to create another world because we know it is possible. But it is up to us to build this other world with our hands and by acting on the stage and in our own life.
Participate in the “spectacle” which is about to begin and once you are back home, with your friends act your own plays and look at what you were never able to see: that which is obvious. Theatre is not just an event; it is a way of life!
We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it.

Perhaps the theatre is not revolutionary in itself; but have no doubts, it is a rehearsal of revolution!

The rehearsal continues.

- Bill Reichblum

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