Thursday, October 31, 2013

Really Questioning the Value of These


Vote for Comment of the Week

This week's contenders:

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "You need more downtime than you think":

Last week there was an article about the benefits of daydreaming and it's interesting to read yet more on the topic, including 'idle time.' I was lucky enough to stay in Scotland for a couple weeks -- I did a program with the World Organic Farming Organization where I stayed with a family. I received food and board in exchange for help with their gardening and household chores. I was struck by their lifestyle -- they were the most content people I have ever met. They live in the rural area of Northern Scotland -- way up as far as you can go. They were right on the coast and surrounded by rolling sand and grass planes…and sheep. We would wake up around 8:00, have breakfast and work until 10 when we would have tea and a snack. We'd work some more and have lunch at around 1, work a little more and have tea at 3 or 4 and then pretty much stop for the day. At that time I would go for a long walk along the coast or pick camomile from the garden. I had so much time just to wander and think. Looking back at that experience I'm amazed at how much more at peace my mind was with that extra time to just absorb what was going on. Looking back at my journal I also realize how many ideas for sculpture/art projects I got while there. We live in such a fast-paced society and we hardly ever take the time we need to slow down. We all know this. I try to take a walk every day -- even just a quick one -- when I notice my attention and productivity dropping and it always helps me get back on track. Once again I have to completely agree with all this and just say well…why don't we take this advice to heart? It's definitely dependent on all the reasons mentioned above. It will have to be something we as a society begin to embrace and support…which is probably pretty far from happening. 
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Questions for the Future of the Arts":
This article opened my eyes to the changing nature of the performing arts landscape. I've heard about major opera and theater companies broadcasting their performances to movie theaters across the country before. My reaction was always positive, since, like many, I assumed that this would allow opera to reach out to a larger, different audience.
I think that if this becomes a widespread phenomenon, it won't actually have that effect. Large-scale lengthy operas will not become more popular if they are shown on a movie screen, since the medium probably isn't enough to draw in new audiences. If anything, opera loses much of its grandeur and fast on a screen, and without its "impressive" factor it will be much harder to create and reach out to a new type of audience.
I don't know if it will affect the attendance at regional opera and theater houses. If someone cares enough about the art form to go attend a performance, would they settle for what some consider a "lesser" version of a performance by a more prestigious company? I of course do not know the answer, but I sure hope not. I think that the audience that could be lost in this phenomenon is what I think of as "the fringe": people who enjoy live performances, but do not truly consider themselves theatergoers or art patrons because they simply don't go that often.
This article raises some very important points, and it will be fascinating to see how this situation unfolds. This specific topic is of course part of the greater conversation about the way technology is changing live theater/opera and how it is consumed.  
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "Romeo and Juliet Redux":
I think this article makes a really good point. People in our society are trained not to feel anything and that repression of emotion makes everything we do robotic. I have never seen a production of Romeo and Juliet that I have liked and the reason is always that I just don't believe anyone would act like that. No one has ever portrayed any of the characters in such a way that I feel like the ending is justified. Usually, by the third act I want to stand up and shout, "JUST KILL YOURSELVES ALREADY" because the shows are boring without the real emotion, and the reactions that the characters are having makes the characters and the writing seem over-dramatic. Everyone tells me that Romeo and Juliet is a beautiful and heartbreaking story but I've never seen it and because of this article I now understand why I disagree with the public opinion of that play. The emotions just aren't there. 
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "In Defense of 'Homeland's Pedophile Dr. Graham And...":
I need to begin this comment by saying that I have never seen Homeland, but I thoroughly enjoy the debate that this article presents. Andy Warhol was once quoted as saying “Art is what you can Get Away with.” Personally, I believe it is more than just a privilege, but a duty of art to challenge, confront, question, dare, provoke, and disturb. Failing to do so is missing a profound opportunity. Censoring or limiting art because we don’t agree with a character, or find their actions disturbing will ultimately lead to some very bland art. Instead, art offers the opportunity to safely witness and experience that which is (hopefully) beyond the scope of daily interaction. Similarly, it connects us to a reality we may not have any previous knowledge of. First and foremost, I am in no way suggesting that pedophilia, rape, sexual assault, assault, or any similar activities are in any way justified. On the contrary, I seek to create a world free of them. However, it becomes both easy and convenient to label perpetrators with their crime, and neglect the person and history that brought them to that point. As a society, it is a relatively simple fix, pedophilia is wrong, so don’t touch children. Yet this treats the surface injury, which while an atrocity, is not at all reflective of the much bigger issues going on. Similarly, many times these activities are often tied to family, friends, or power differentials, making the issues immensely more complicated. Art offers us a unique way of diving into these issues and discovering and discussing that which is beneath the surface.  
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Are artists to blame for gentrification? Or would ...":
Art sets the feeling for a community. What other than self-expression can define a group of people? It fosters a sense of culture than will bring people who are looking for that particular medium or mood into it. Having grown up in non-hipster (specification necessary) Brooklyn and gone to high school at an intersection of Tribeca and Chelsea, I can say that I've seen and agree with the assessments of most of the areas mentioned in the article. New York specifically is such a heterogenous mix of cultures, races, and identities that it seems as if chunks of them have always been breaking off and moving into another community. The diversity of NYC causes a dynamic commuity.

But for all the culture and art brought into the communities by artists, how much of it is beneficial to real estate agents? They certainly bring a sense of identity with them, but at what cost? I feel like the romanticism of the 'poor artist' and 'wandering artist' has increased in the past few years; and for what it's worth, I have no idea why that is because I keep hearing news about friends having to move out to a house of five roommates because they refuse to spend less than $40 on a meal. Lessons that refuse to be learned aside, art certainly increases both financial cost and social worth of a society- if you have money to afford it. And it pops up even when you can't afford it, because it itself can be an escapism for such communities. But is it causal in either direction? I think not.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spooky


Two beach balls and some gaff tape.  It's like a muppet hedge.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ugh

3 INT's - That won't get it done.


Slow Motion Renovation

We're slowly but surely changing over the room in the house that used to be the office into a room for our upcoming new resident.  First we redid a closet and then Mrs. TANBI painted a wall (blue, but not for any specific reason).


The most recent project was... graphics!

On one wall we have a tree branch with a wise owl and a cheeky monkey:


On another wall there's a child size giraffe...


... another owl...


... a bird perched on a light switch...


... and some friends for the other bird...


Finally we have a big beautiful tree, a tiny elephant, and a friendly lion...


At least I hope he's friendly.

The graphics all came as a package and were actually pretty easy to install.  Previously the times I've done vinyls like this you have had to be very careful about getting them stuck to themselves or misplaced on the wall.  These actually were tough enough to be applied and removed, and they came about ok even if they got stuck.

The tree had some number labels for the parts (it is actually a dozen or so seperate decals) and I used them for an impromptu door decal:


The seven is a bit of a stretch, but I couldn't think of another way to make an "N."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are a few stories from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

The Art of Self-Immersion

Stage Directions: Cynthia von Buhler turns even casual artistic whims into bold new adventures. Throughout her career she has been an illustrator, children’s book author, painter, sculptor, band manager and performance artist. Her latest endeavor, Speakeasy Dollhouse, is an immersive theatre experience that takes attendees back to the 1920s and the mystery of her grandfather Frank Spano’s murder. While it emerged initially as a one-off show inspired by book research, the production has evolved into an elaborate, weekly, multi-room production that plays inside gangster Meyer Lansky’s former hangout in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It’s a time-travel adventure for audiences that allows them to immerse themselves as deeply as they like and come back for more.


Ballet Competitions Turn Art into Sport

New Republic: The International Olympic Committee recently voted to restore wrestling to the Olympic Games in 2016. One activity that’s never been put before the committee: ballet. Despite its physical similarities to gymnastics, ice-skating and ballroom dance, most ballet dancers would bristle at the suggestion that it's a sport—and yet, many ballet teachers and directors have embraced Olympic-style competitions in which aspiring dancers compete for gold, silver and bronze medals, scholarships, contracts and even cash.


A Litany of Multiple Voices: Notes on Political Theater

HowlRound: To begin this particular musing it is important to say something up front: I am the sort of person who believes that the things I read are written just for me, that they are speaking to me in specific moments of my life. Most recently, I’ve become fixated on a poem by a man named Richard Siken entitled A Litany in Which Certain Things Are Crossed Out. I like its disjointed storytelling and its strong voice, but I also love it for the moment that it entered my life.


In Defense of 'Homeland's Pedophile Dr. Graham And Portraying Unpleasant Characters

ThinkProgress: In last week’s episode of Homeland, I thought the real standout of an episode that otherwise was a retread of the show’s Carrie-Brody obsession was Erik Todd Dellums’ performance as Dr. Graham, the surgeon who runs a crude hospital in the Tower of David, and who lives and works for a criminal gang there in part because he’s a pedophile. As he puts it to Brody, “We’re here because the world outside can be judgmental and cruel. We’re here because this is the place that accepts us. We’re here because we belong here.” As I wrote in my Vulture review of the episode, “He’s such an upsetting, specific creation that I was almost tempted to up my rating of this episode by a star.”


The disvalue of the arts…when did it occur?

Audience Development Specialists Blog!: Yes, it might be strange to hear from me over the weekend. I had something on my mind I wanted to share. I have come to the conclusion that we in the arts are attempting to solve a puzzle without the actual background knowledge needed to solve it. We are fighting an uphill battle to have people value the arts again. We have our talking points that have been proven over and over again, yet the majority doesn’t seem to be listening, or they have come to not care about the arts the way we do.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Vote For Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders:

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Playing Shakespeare’s Men":

I really appreciate the idea of just producing a quality Shakespeare production, giving women a chance to play roles they don't usually get to play and not worrying about feminist commentary. I think just initially this is a great movement for women and it allows great actors to really show their skills without worrying about what gender they are. I can completely understand not wanting to be seen as commentary on gender roles, but it is an inevitable factor in doing something like this. Honestly, I really like the whole concept and I don't think that it needs that extra political commentary. The author ends by saying, "I hope they'll turn to creating play-worlds in which women don't have to pretend to be men in order to be powerful." This struck me strangely. I honestly didn't think about the production of the plays by all female casts to be 'women pretending to be men' and this being he only way they can 'be powerful.' It made be a little frustrated. Aren't the women portraying these characters, even if they are men, showing how powerful they can be? Aren't the actresses showing their skills and power through these rolls without having to make a direct statement about gender? Anyway, I can see both sides and I think they would just be very different productions. I support them both but I also don't think you need to make something obviously political/racial/etc. to make a great production. I love the possibility of these issues emerging, hanging around in the background, but sometimes it's nice not to have it shoved in your face. 
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Get Over Yourself: How Your Ego Sabotages Your Cre...":
Make sure that you keep the conversation about the work in a creative environment. People need to get over the idea that what they have to say is the only way to do things. People need to be able to be very open about their intuition about certain items and if there is an easily offended person in the room that can be tough. Sometimes in a creative context the other line that is not really clear happens to be the most important. You need to know who has the final say in a collaborative environment and people need to have mutual respect in order to be able to let it go when they are over ruled. You can through a much longer and more difficult consensus process remove the ego and most of the personal character dominance but that process requires in many cases more time and discipline than people have. If you want to indulge your creativity to its fullest and make sure that each persons input is respected then you need to look at setting aside the time and people need to have the confidence to fully develop their ideas. In our industry I completely agree with Andrew and think that you need to find the balance and that will be a continual struggle throughout life. You must know yourself and know the group in order to be true collaborators and if the group dynamic does not allow for that you need a backup plan to deal with someone who has brought ego into the room. Being a good creative collaborator takes a lifetime of study of human interaction and some of us are naturally better at it than others but the second that you stop evaluating how you interact and how you comport yourself in that context you are no longer growing as a collaborator.  
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "TED talks are lying to you":
This article made some really good points. I think the world of creativity as seen by the artist and creativity as seen by the business class are two vastly different things. It is true that the professional managerial class feels like they own creativity to some extent. That's part of the reason that books on being a creative person are in the management and leadership section of the school library and not on the arts floor.

I wonder if part of this trend is due to the fact that artist tend to look inwards for creativity, delving into their souls and dreams whereas the business marketplace tends to look towards proven forms of creative achievement at a spring board for future endeavors. That is why books on creativity do nothing for the truly creative soul. We don't look to see how others were creative in our attempts to be creative ourself.

Thats not to say that artist don't study the paintings of past artists and writers don't study past literate when being creative. Understanding the past work in ones field is key to being an active member in said field. But it is not a key to being a creative person. The study and training one puts into the arts is to enhance the medium which one choses to express their creativity.

Part of me feels that books about being creative are useless altogether. Can you really teach someone to "think outside the box" and ignore conventions. Can you teach someone how to daydream? Would it not be better in our fast paced, consumerism based society to teach people to take time out of their day to just be one with nature and embrace quite reflection? I believe that reflection and time spent daydreaming is the only way for one to truly learn to be a creative person. 
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "How Mind-Wandering and “Positive Constructive Dayd...":
I initially chose to read this article because of its title, as "daydreaming" is something I tend to do a lot of. As Sophie mentions, it's very easy to let my thoughts wander while my hands are doing something else. I teeter back and forth on how "productive" "daydreaming" (at least in my case) really is. I'm attracted to all the positive implications in this article, that letting the mind travel in an uninhibited fashion encourages imagination and creativity. But how does that exhibit itself in my decisions, actions, and speech? I feel like it's similar to that that age-old adage about making a decision via coin toss: you don't know what you want until that breath of hesitation when the coin is in the air, and you suddenly know what outcome you're hoping for. In a weird way, I think this applies here. I could spend hours focussed marinating on a problem or dilemma, or essay. And it's not until I back away from it or "daydream" that my thoughts stumble upon something tangent that relate to the idea I was seeking.
I also think it's interesting how Andrew pointed out that the term "daydream" has a negative connotation, and the origin of the term. It's a fascinating correlation.
I also found it interesting that in his studies he linked imagination to delayed gratification. I wonder how such results would differ in another time, because we live in such an instant-gratification oriented society.
I think the next step in this research goes back to the perpetual argument of nature vs. nurture. Who is naturally inclined to daydream, and who is encouraged? Or, the other direction in which I would be curious to see this develop would be these studies linking to the personalities of the extrovert v. the introvert. 

Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "The Psychology of Horror Movies: A Scientist and a...":
I don't know if I completely agree with the article. I think it missed a key aspect of horror movies, which is being afraid of what you cannot see. We learned how in comic books, there is a gap in between each picture frame, and our eyes/mind fill in those gaps with the in between. It's the same with movies, our minds fill in what we cannot see. In the clip of The Tingler, most of what we saw were people screaming at nothing. Our minds filled in what we could not see and told ourselves that there is something physically frightening. I personally think this gives off a better scare because we are not shown a physical being. I think our minds can create worse creatures than any makeup artist. The horror images that we subconsciously create in our minds will also be the scariest images to us since we know what actually frightens us. Even in Jaws, the music does play a huge role in making a horror movie, but again, the shark is mostly hidden underwater and it preys on unsuspecting vacationers and audiences. When we physically see the shark, I was a little disappointed because my mind had created a scarier image. I thought Becki's comment was very interesting in the way that she "pretends" she is the character. This says a lot about human identity, and starts the question, "Why do we always want to change our identity?" We see a lot of people pretending to be something they are not in life, and I'm wondering if this is because we get excited about change. Life can be repetitive and boring, but when we mix it up a bit, it becomes more interesting and more enjoyable. By both changing our identities and diving into unreal situations (the horror movie), our lives become more interesting and enjoyable. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ellipses...

Well, I finished my mid-semester grades on time, but I still wound up with a thick stack of work to grade at the end...  Although not nearly what was predicted it does look like Yinzer Nation will win this week...  I think this week I will order something from Amazon every day.  That free Prime shipping can not be a sales winner for them...  It's going to break my heart, but I think I will throw away an exercise bike because it has a bad head unit...  Dude came to check out my furnace two weeks ago.  He was supposed to call with the price for a part.  I'm pretty sure he's blowing me off (might have expected that from the guy that was debugging the blower)...  Still not walking, still not biking...  The last two weeks have really screamed by...  There's part of me nosing round the idea of a new truck.  Based on prior behavior that would mean I should buy something around 2017...  Full day of class today on that video from a few days ago...  50% of my guests for tomorrow's class begged off.  Good thing I have a weekly back up date.  I'm sure the students love it though...  Not much on the news without a manufactered crisis...  Pounding down old episodes of Archer off of Netflix.  If you haven't seen it I would put it under "must see"...  Was it really necessary for Alien and Blade Runner to exist in the same continuity?  I think maybe that's not helping either film...  Was nice for the Steelers to pick up another win after such a lousy start...  Never got downtown to see the duck.  By the time we were ready to go the news was saying it was mobbed (and there were home Pitt and Steeler games)...  We could really use a new projector in 209 - or if not new, at least brighter...  Many of the people around me are currently infirm.  It's no fun...  Still looking for new homes for three cats.  Give me a shout if you've got any ideas...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are a few articles from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

The Psychology of Horror Movies: A Scientist and a Director Explain Why We Love to Be Scared

Movie News | Movies.com: I'll never forget it: I was nine years old, at a sleepover with a group of schoolmates, and one of the girls produced her older brother's VHS copy of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom from her pink Hello Kitty bag like so much contraband, to the tune of wide-eyed gasps and giggles. This being the film primarily responsible for birthing the PG-13 rating, we were woefully below the appropriate age for such viewing material - and we knew it. Tentatively, our young hostess popped the film into her tape player and we settled in to discover what all he fuss was about.
 


Stephen Fry Hosts “The Science of Opera,” a Discussion of How Music Moves Us Physically to Tears

Open Culture: Stephen Fry Hosts “The Science of Opera,” a Discussion of How Music Moves Us Physically to Tears in Music, Science | October 8th, 2013 4 Comments I vividly recall my first opera. It was The Marriage of Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. A friend bought two family circle tickets—nosebleed seats—and insisted that I come along. She was a trained opera singer and aficionado. I was an unlearned neophyte. Most of my expectations were fulfilled: the enormously impressive space, plenty of bombast, intricately designed sets and costuming. And it was long. Very long. But not, as I had feared, boring. Not at all. I had not expected, in fact, to be so physically moved by the performances, and not only moved to basic emotions—I was moved deep in my gut. There’s no way I could adequately explain it.
 


TED talks are lying to you

Salon.com: The writer had a problem. Books he read and people he knew had been warning him that the nation and maybe mankind itself had wandered into a sort of creativity doldrums. Economic growth was slackening. The Internet revolution was less awesome than we had anticipated, and the forward march of innovation, once a cultural constant, had slowed to a crawl. One of the few fields in which we generated lots of novelties — financial engineering — had come back to bite us. And in other departments, we actually seemed to be going backward. You could no longer take a supersonic airliner across the Atlantic, for example, and sending astronauts to the moon had become either fiscally insupportable or just passé.
 


Playing Shakespeare’s Men

HowlRound: Though Shakespeare created around 798 male characters, his dramatic corpus contains only about 149 female ones. That's a ratio of roughly sixteen to three. Yet every year the best conservatories accept at least as many women as men—if not more—and every year they graduate both men and women trained to act in Shakespeare plays. The women are even trained to swordfight. Ninety nine percent of them never get to use that skill.
 


On Being a Little Person

A Bunch of Dumb Show: I have been attempting to be a professional actress for the past 3 years and my mom will probably tell you I have been attempting to be a professional actress my entire life. I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not want to be on a stage or in front of a camera. I have been performing in plays and musicals since I could speak. I attended a small Liberal Arts school in Michigan where I earned a degree in Theatre. I was in plays and musicals while in school and I earned none of my roles by simply being small and not one show I was in even made mention of it. I have lived in Los Angeles for almost two years and let me be one of the millions to tell you…it is not easy. Not only am I attempting to break into an impossible industry, but I am trying to do it with what some may consider a huge disadvantage. For decades, little people have not been taken seriously and we still continue to not be. As an actress, I am presented with maybe 2% of the “real” auditions that my average height actress friends are presented with.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Might Make You Drop Your Phone

Made me drop mine...


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vote For Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders...

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Why Should Stage Hands At Carnegie Hall Make $400,...":

This is an interesting article but what makes it even better are the comments on it. Looking at the article first, it seems like there is a general dislike of unions in general and specifically IATSE especially on Broadway, but there author does a great job of getting more opinions on the subject who fairly defend it. Clearly a 400k salary is not even close to typical and if Carnegie Hall is willing to pay that, clearly the work the stagehands are doing is worth it. Especially if they are working on average 70 to 80 hours a week.

The comments are what make this article so interesting. The debate becomes very heated very quickly. There are a few stagehands who make very passionate points about the work that they do and how they do more than just push a piano around. Then there a few who argue that skill and experience, that the stagehands clearly have to be working there, shouldn't effect their pay. They argue that it's all about competition and since the union takes that element away, they are getting paid far more than they should.

Personally I think the stagehands definitely earn their salary. They are clearly the most experienced and skilled to be the ones working such a prestigious venue, and they work 70-80 hours a week, so clearly there is a ton of work for them to do. I think they deserve every penny they make. 
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Ole Miss Jocks Don't Get Why Yelling 'Fag' During ...":
Well, that's awkward. I didn't think that people could be so stupidly open about gay hate. Secret hate is okay because we all know that it is bound to be there, but to out right say it in the middle of an anti-gay hate performance? That was just stupid. And the kids never got punished for it. They should have been suspended from the football team for the rest of the season. They need to be taught what is decent in life and what is down right disrespectful. One player apologized in an insincere way; that REALLY teaches the whole school a lesson. This will just happen again and again until something actually happens about it. There is a reason that people are all in a fit about that kind of thing now. It is a sensitive subject. How did those kids not know that they were being stupid and uncalled for?
I have to wonder, what prompted them to say it? It seems like they didn't know that shouting out hate words like that was a bad thing to do. Are they just stupid or were they doing it as a joke? Do they know the social standards of life, or do they think that it is okay because they are on the beloved football team? Just because they are admired for being able to hit each other the hardest doesn't give them the right to put other people down. Insulting people doesn't make you any better of a person.
I understand the theatre course requirement thing. My high school had a required art credit, so a lot of the jocks took theatre because it was an easier class to pass than studio art or an instrumental class. One would think that after being in the class for part of a year already that they would have been told the protocols of theatre. There are a lot of LGBTQ people in theatre; there are probably some in the athletes' class too. Do they say those things in class to the other students? Probably (hopefully) not. I don't get how there can be still be people in this world that are still anti-gay after all this time.  
Student #3 a has left a new comment on your post "What Theatre is For":
I disagree with Tyler. When I hear someone say "why is it never enough to just entertain the audience?" I automatically think of human ignorance and selfishness. I think art is one of the most powerful (including dangerous) things on earth. It can manipulate people. No matter what, art will always be propaganda. An artist will try to "change" someone's way of thinking. When we mess with people's minds, we don't know how people will react. The mind is the most fragile thing on the planet, and a thought can be shattered by just one artist manipulating a mind. I wish I could say that I just wanted to create art for art's sake: to just entertain the audience. But I know too much about the world. I've seen things and heard stories that have shocked me. I know I want to change those things. I think it is selfish to ignore the world's problems and focus on our own entertainment. As artists, I believe it is our duty to at least try. Sometimes, I dream that my work can manipulate the minds of people so that they would like to fix the problems with me. But again, this is just a dream. No matter how much I try to convey my thoughts, the audience will always have their own opinion on what needs to be changed. Even if I showed them the horrors in the world, I cannot force them to take action. I start to think that no matter how hard I try, I cannot "change the world." This was just a dream. I do not do theatre for audiences. Yes, I am a storyteller, but I do theatre to make myself feel useful, I guess. I guess I do theatre because it keeps myself busy in my lifetime. I think that I actually am making a difference. Am I? Probably not. But what else am I supposed to do? 
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "Let's Talk About [Insert Controversy Here]":
"I'm skeptical of the theater's power to incite passion in the public anymore. I know this is a heretical statement for a theatre practitioner to make; but the average person just doesn't go to see theater. It isn't the realm where the public at large plays out its fantasies and fears. We have TV, movies, the internet and football to do that."

I'm really disappointed in this comment. Maybe it's true for many, but it's not what I see in the people around me, and it certainly isn't what I'd like to see in the community around me. I'll admit that the average person just doesn't go to see theatre (anymore), but I'd like to hope that we each have a part to play in changing that.

As for the controversy surrounding cultural depiction (and cultural appropriation, I suppose), it's a sweeping but sometimes true generalization to say that the people in charge are quick to anger, quick to speak. Isn't this something we learned as young children? "Think before you speak." And as you get older, something along the lines of "research your facts before you write it in a paper" becomes more suitable. An instantaneous eruption of anger is the first reaction, and finding selective evidence is the follow-up. But how embarrassing is it to jump to conclusions and then be proven wrong? Many will back down, slinking away quietly, hoping no one will notice. That seems to be what Rajan Zed is doing in light of a comedic portrayal of Hinduism. Regardless, the issue of offending communities was brought up, and though it may have been discussed early on, someone somewhere took the time to pause and think about it.

So in the end, I believe that controversy is good. Differing opinions are good. Passionate debate is good. ... So long as everyone involved will listen to the rest. Controversy does not always come to a conclusion, but so long as we can agree to disagree, we are furthering our knowledge as well as the knowledge of others.  
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Passion vs. Engagement":
I think it's really interesting how this article discussed the difference between passion and engagement, namely that an engaged person can advance within a company but a passionate person will advance the company itself, but may not technically advance within the company's ranks. While both types of people are useful, I believe that passionate employees, in the end, are better for a company, as they will do their job well for the sake of doing their job well, because they are passionate about it and take pride in it. In contrast, while an engaged person may get the same amount of work done, they might only be doing it to get the next pay raise. While this is a perfectly reasonable motivation, there will be a difference in quality of the work, especially in fields such as ours. One of the things I like most about CMU is that everyone I meet is passionate. This isn't limited to the drama department, or even CFA- it seems as if everyone here, regardless of whether they are an art, engineering, science, or any other type of student, genuinely loves what they do, and they came here because they want to be the best at it they can be. It creates an environment I've never experienced before, and it makes me work harder than I ever have before, because I finally have people around me with the same attitudes and and understanding of passion.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are a few posts from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

Passion vs. Engagement

Butts In the Seats: The Drucker Exchange quotes an article in Bloomberg Businessweek claiming “truly passionate U.S. employees” make up “a scant 11% of the workforce.” My first reaction was to wonder if the arts had a higher percentage of passionate employees than most sectors. The Drucker Institute piece mentions the responsibility of the employee to essentially manage their own careers because companies won’t do it for you.


Why The Affordable Care Act Matters To Artists

ThinkProgress: It’s not yet clear how many people purchased insurance through the exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act that opened up yesterday. But one of the things I’ve been hearing from a lot of creative people is that the ACA has made it easy to be, or to contemplate being, an artist. Being a writer, or a visual artist, or a musician, or an actor, has always been an economically risky choice where a few people succeed in dramatic terms, a larger number figure out middle-class existences doing what they love at least part of the time, and others struggle to do what they love. The ACA, and the ability to purchase more affordable insurance as an individual, doesn’t change that economic calculus. But it does help minimize a risk factor that can make it impossible to attempt careers as artists at all.


Fox Urges Appellate Court to Review Internship Ruling

www.hollywoodreporter.com: With the future of Corporate America internship programs on the line, Fox Entertainment Group has filed a petition before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to have a federal judge's controversial ruling in June reviewed.


Let's Talk About [Insert Controversy Here]

MinnesotaPlaylist.com: There's nothing we love more than a good, old-fashioned controversy. No matter how much we say we say that we wish people could be nice and get along and have long, respectful conversations about explosive issues, we still line up to watch the fireworks go off. No matter who you are, or how understanding you try to be of all sides of any issue, there is some always topic out there waiting for you to let loose the full power of your rage.


A Shrinking Landscape: Theater Criticism in Chicago Then and Now

HowlRound: The tension—healthy or unhealthy—that has always existed between the artist and the critic is no secret. Having one’s creation judged by someone whose role seems to be to dictate the value of said work is a naturally touchy endeavor. Egos flare, defiant stances are taken, fingers point, and artists either breathe sighs of relief or look ahead to the task of rebuilding. Given the personal stakes at play here, it is no surprise that artists tend to view critics with trepidation and suspicion, if not outright disdain.