Monday, October 06, 2014

Vote for Comment of the Week

Voting ends Friday lunchtime...

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Nobody Knows What The Hell They Are Doing":

AMEN! This might just be the best article I have ever read on the green page. Recently, I've been breaking out of working with just my age bracket. I've been in situations where I'm working with people who are much older, much younger, and everywhere in between. The funniest, most comforting, most depressing realization that I have come to is that everybody is faking it. No matter how long you have done your job, or how long you have practiced something, you don't feel like an expert. I've seen people do amazing things, but when they come back from it, they'll always say they feel like they were winging it, or that they don't think it was that good. This is in some ways distressing, but it's also the greatest human bond. Nobody knows why we're here, and we won't ever know, so we're all just trying to do our best with it.
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "The Source of Bad Writing":
How many times in class have I raised my hand to contribute some banal tidbit to class discussion and tried to dress it up in words that only obfuscate the meaning, rendering the instructor and my classmates incapable of doing anything else other than smiling and nodding? Case in point. 

The Curse of Knowledge is a double-edged sword, to be sure. I can make what feels like a very valid and important point completely inaccessible to other purely through my word choice, thus frustrating me and alienating others. As a former biology major, reading the abstracts of various studies and experiments excited me at first. The technical language, and aloof adjective-ridden phrases reminded me of how I spoke and wrote. But then when I actually tried to read the abstracts, I found my mind sliding over the words, unable to find purchase in context I could not even begin to comprehend. I was reading brilliant papers, but they did me no good because I could not gain anything from them. 

I try to make myself aware of the words I use. Finding the balance between using the exact right word, and using a word that will be understood by many is hard. But why try and share knowledge in a way that makes it impossible to receive and interact with?
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "Joseph Haj Makes the Case for Co-Directing":
I completely disagree with Haj I find his solution of co-direction to be an incorrect antidote for his struggle of growth. First off, Directing isn't an isolated craft. Sure you're the one driving the boat, but how many people do you have onboard to assist? It's not like the director is coming up with all the ideas, in terms of design and with the actors. And if the perception is that the director is the sole creator of these things, is an inability to engage with other artistic minds. I agree with Rachel about the use of a dramaturg. That was actually the first thing I thought of when he mentioned looking for someone who "continually interrogating the work all the way through, and it is a thrill to be able to work in the same room and share ideas, offer alternative ideas, propose alternative approaches, reflect to one another in real time what is and is not working." But there's also the assistant director? Instead of using them as a glorified notes taker and Starbucks monkey, why don't you take advantage of their young and unjaded mind? Also why don't you invite colleagues and collaborators BEFORE the show opens? What about the Artistic Director? There are so many ways you can find people to engage and further your work, looking to someone else is really just a copout.
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "Can Theater Speak to a Modern Audience Without Sho...":
The video at the end of the article was really interesting- I never could figure out why I didn't mind the text message displays in "Sherlock" but I hated the text messages in "The Fault in Our Stars." I now realize it was the bubbles around the words in "The Fault in Our Stars"- they made the movie look dated even when it first came out. Sherlock is the only show I've seen that I didn't mind how they displayed texts with floating words- otherwise I much prefer showing the cellphone screen (or just avoiding it entirely). 

This doesn't help much for theatre, though- it's not like you can magically float words next to actors, and using some kind of media or supertitles to get a similar effect seems like generally a terrible idea, unless the show is specifically centered around that as a concept. Maybe it's because we do so many shows set in the past, but I feel like I never see phones or computers in any play or musical- the only show I can immediately think of where a cellphone is used is "Dead Man's Cellphone"- and in that show the phone is more of a plot point than a practical prop. Regardless, as more and more shows are written set in the present, this is going to catch up with us and we're going to have to find a way to depict phones, texts, and computers on-stage without being distracting.
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "An Empire Where the Curtain Would Not Fall":
There were two quotes from Mr. Panter that really jumped out at me in this article. 

And also, the Lyric is wonderful. It’s a world-class stage, and most stages on Broadway arguably are not world class — rather shallow, no real depth.

This is something I'm constantly reminded of when looking at Broadway theatres. The houses and the backstage areas are extremely tiny. It makes shows very difficult to do and that I think is one of the reasons behind shows being so expensive. In order to have all the fancy stage things happen in these theatres you must find creative (and often expensive) solutions to make it fit in backstage footprints that are designed for a much smaller size show. So you should be prudent in what you are spending, but know the limitations of your space and if you have to exceed these limitations then you have to be prepared to spend the money. 

You can’t be the biggest,” he said, “and not have people throwing things at you. 

This was the other quote from Mr. Panter that I think people need to be reminded of. This is an industry which makes broad generalizations and opinions on people's work that vary all over the place. You can't please everyone so you have to make sure that you are happy with the product that you are putting out there. I think lots of people tend to take criticism to hard and it doesn't do them a lot of good. Take the criticism and learn from it is what is important. But realize that if you are going to move forward and up in your career it will be hard to avoid having things thrown at you. So be prepared and have a thick skin.

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