Songs for the Struggling Artist


A $5000 Grant Would Be a $5000 Problem
July 5, 2021, 6:24 pm
Filed under: art, Art Scenes, Creative Process, dance, music, theatre, writing | Tags: , , , , , , ,

A day after applications opened, the email notifications of the grant’s existence came out. After a lot of hype, the City Corp Arts Grants applications were live! I waited until midnight to look at the tab I’d left open all day. I confess I didn’t have high hopes for it. But around midnight, I finally got the will to check it out. When I finally understood what its parameters were, I cursed and shut it all down again. There was no way I could do what it was asking. Another opportunity that I was just too uninspired to take on. Sigh. I’ve been here before. Ah well.

But then we started talking about this “opportunity” and I started to realize what a mess it was. It’s not that I’m uninspired. It’s that this grant is ridiculous. First – it’s been billed as a way to support artists after a devastating year with no support and, for performing artists, having our entire field shut down. It’s been pitched as a parcel of funds to help counteract the losses we endured. It is $5000 for 3000 individual artists. That’s nice! It’s a lovely idea. If I had $5000 to give to 3000 individual artists, I absolutely would do it. What a boon for those 3000 artists! But the catch is – they’re not just giving 3000 artists 5K. It’s not a gift. For 5K, they expect a return. They want live performances. They want murals. They want workshops and celebrations.

They’re trying to buy a summer full of art with a last minute investment. Because it’s not just that they want a show of some kind; They want it starting immediately. These performances have to happen between July and October. This timeline and this budget are impossible. I can’t make a show for $5k in NYC. I don’t know anyone who can.

If I were to sign up to try and get this grant, I’d be signing up for a $5000 problem. First this $5000 would not go to me, the artist (though this is the stated goal of this grant). The first place it would need to go would be a rehearsal space. And if we need to rent a performance venue, that’s it. The grant money is already spent. But let’s say we’re going to do this outdoors, guerrilla style – maybe on one of these Open Streets they set up this year – then maybe there’s enough money to pay some of the performers. If we want it to look good in the photos we’re required to provide for the city, we’ll need to hire some good costume and scenic designers, not to mention a photographer to document this street performance. I, personally, the artist who applied for this thing that is meant to help me, will likely not see a dime. Not to mention that I’ll have had absolutely zero time to prepare. I’d be expected to find a venue, cast a show, find a place to rehearse it, and put it all on, at warp speed. On top of that, I’d, for sure, need to raise more money to get anything really done. It’s not a great deal for me.

Now – if this grant gave me 5K and a free rehearsal space and just wanted a couple of photos of whatever I came up with, that might be something. That would be a grant that encouraged the creation of art rather than demanding some kind of product. A city that gave its artists funds to just do whatever would yield some really exciting interesting art. I fear the opposite is about to happen with this grant.

One of the requirements for this grant is to provide evidence of sustained art making here in NYC. This seems very reasonable. But it would be much better for the state of the arts here in general if instead of the asking those NYC artists with a track record to come up with a product with no real budget in a hurry, they just had a lottery for those artists and checked in with the winners after a little while to see what they came up with.

I’m sure everyone involved in this grant has the best of intentions – but it does feel a little bit like, after a brutal year, we emerge from our caves, our entire field blunted by dis-use and tears, and the city of NYC says, from the audience, “Showtime!” and we’re just pushed out on stage with no preparation. I don’t know how to say, “I’m sorry but I’m depleted and discouraged and I’ve got nothing for you.”

I would like to receive $5000 from the city of New York. I have been making art here for over two decades. It would be nice to receive a little something in honor of those years of contributing to the culture. But I just don’t have an idea for how to pull off this impossible task, for not enough money.

It’s not me, it’s this grant. This grant wants to see us dance and we are still limping back from the wars. Do we want to be dancing? Of course! There are just certain realities that we have to acknowledge. Dance costs money and it takes time to create. I feel quite sure the grantmakers imagined a summer of dozens of dancers, leaping through the streets, actors staging epics on corners, murals being painted everywhere. It is a beautiful fantasy.

I think it’s more likely that there will be a lot of solo artists, doing whatever they can in random corners. There are going to be poets and magicians and lone cellists in the streets and if we have an abundance of poets and cellos this summer, that’s cool. But I feel fairly certain that’s that this grant was not meant to be exclusively poets and cellists. And as mad as this “Dance, Artist, Dance” grant makes me, I’d still apply for it if I had even the barest semblance of an idea. I try to imagine it. I picture getting sparked by something – but then I have to find a rehearsal space and I can imagine making those calls, discovering who is still here and who has lost their space. I picture trying to find a venue and confronting the same difficult reality. None of it gives me any joy or hope, really.

I’m sure there are artists among us for whom this will be very helpful and I am very glad for them and look forward to seeing their work. But for those, like me, who might feel demoralized by these grants that were theoretically created to help us, it just feels important to acknowledge that these are not helpful for everyone.

In thinking about this, I found myself weeping harder than I have in months. And while I appreciate a good cry, I’m not sure I appreciate a grant whose very existence makes artists feel inadequate and uninspired. Intellectually, I know that I’m not artistically dead. I know that not being able to come up with a show for an impossible grant for not enough money does not mean I’m empty forever. But – it sure feels like that. I just can’t seem to stop crying whenever I try and access the inspiration well. I know that the inspiration well depends on my feeling safe and secure and stimulated and after this year I am none of those things. It is not the job of the City of New York to be concerned with my inspiration well. But – the safety and security of thousands of artists here have been compromised and I would wager that lots of artists might be in tears about their inspiration wells today. The City of New York missed a big opportunity to actually help artists, to give us a sense of safety and security that might actually make space for inspiration and instead it just wants us to smile and put on a show.

This is one empty inspirational well.
Too bad the city of NYC won’t be giving me $5000 to help fill it.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

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You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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A Performance Once a Week

It started when A texted me to tell me about the National Theatre’s production of Jane Eyre that was available on the internet for the week. “LOL,” I said, “I’m in the middle of watching it RIGHT NOW.” And we had a fun little text exchange about our favorite moments in the show. We decided to watch the next one “together” via text and before we knew it, we had a tradition of watching some kind of performance once a week. It has been one of the few things I’ve found genuinely sustaining in these Covid times.

We’ve been pretty omnivorous in our viewing and I feel as though I’ve actually had a bit of a survey course in the Performing Arts of the current moment. Or, really, it’s a course in the moment from the moment before this moment because most of these works were recorded in the before times. Sometimes I weep just seeing an audience.  

The survey is, of course, limited by the kind of companies that can afford to have their work well presented on video and then can afford the bandwidth to share them. The survey leans heavily on European dance and theatre partly because of that. And of course on our taste.

A small sampling of our list:

Works by Crystal Pite, Christian Spuck, Akram Kahn, StopGap Dance, Spymonkey, Wooster Group, National Theatre, Told by an Idiot, Nederlands Dans Theater, Le Patin Libre, Monica Bill Barnes, Graeae Theatre

Shows like: Emilia, Akhnaten, Titon et L’aurore, The Plastic Bag Store, Richard II (twice! two different productions), What the Constitution Means to Me, Latin History for Morons, Theatre of Blood, Revisor, Death of a Salesman, Oedipussy, Birth-Day, Giselle, Coriolanus at the Stratford Festival and Reasons to be Cheerful.  

I wanted to write about this because I’m really hoping I can continue this kind of omnivorous performing arts watching once the pandemic is over.

I mean, part of the reason I have not seen these works before is that they are so expensive. I know they’re worth the money when you’re dying to see them. Like, you know you love their work and you’ll spend $100 a ticket to go see them. But you have to usually, if money isn’t abundant, be judicious about what you see and you won’t take risks when tickets are a hundred dollars. In this digital world, with the barrier so low to entry – that is, mostly free with the very occasional ticket price under $15 – I’ll see anything. And at home, I’m not even stuck wasting the evening if something sucks. One night, A and I watched about ten minutes each of a random assortment of dances, puppet shows and plays because none of them were great. You can’t just watch 10 minutes of something in a theatre. Sometimes it’s not just the ticket price you’re out, it’s the whole night. But digital performance allows for big risk taking and big risks sometimes mean big rewards. It’s actually quite remarkable that I have become a fan of so many performers, choreographers and theatre makers this past year that I never even heard of before, in a moment where there are few performances happening.

None of us know what’s going to happen for the performing arts when this is all over but I hope for two things in particular. One – that digital performance will continue to be available. It may seem counter productive; Why would people pay to come to a show when they can watch it at home for free? But, I think there has been quite a bit of evidence that digital performances actually encourage ticket sales for live shows. My own experience is that I would, for sure, pay money to see QUITE a FEW shows I watched on-line, in person. Those are tickets I probably wouldn’t have thought would be worth it before. Now I’d be begging for them to take my money so I could sit in the actual room with those shows. When it’s safe, of course. (And when it is, I’m going to need an NYC presenter to pick up the slack and book Crystal Pite and Kidd Pivot as soon as possible. Please and Thank You.)

The second thing I hope for is that we can somehow lower the ticket prices for EVERYTHING. I would like to continue to see a show a week when this is over but I would like to see these shows in person, and I would like to be as omnivorous as we’ve been able to be on-line. That’s something I want for everyone. An omnivorous audience is an interesting audience. It’s an audience that cross pollinates and makes an exciting impact on artists.

Affordable arts make for accessible arts and this horrible pandemic time has opened my artistic mind to all sorts of work I never had access to before. It is a real gift to be able to go around the world through performance. I am lucky enough to live in a city where much of that sort of work comes to tour but I rarely have gotten to see the kinds of variety that I have seen over the last year. I would like to see these things in person, once a week, for an actually affordable price, please. I know that no venue, presenter or producing organization can afford to cut ticket prices at the moment but I am dreaming of a reshuffling of everything, where theatre, dance, puppetry, opera and beyond are as affordable as the digital world. Or maybe a Netflix for performance, where I pay a monthly fee and get to see whatever I want? Some new way of doing things would be glorious because I have seen extraordinary new works this year and I want to keep doing it. Hopefully performances will come back and A and I can see a show once a week in real life, no text messages required.

This performance was not on-line but if it were I would watch it.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist 

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Remembering What Might Have Been

There was a moment there, in the early days of last year, where it felt like we could have had something different. In looking back at my posts from then, I see how we were poised on this needle of possibility. There was a funny kind of hope – a kind of excitement almost – that we could fundamentally alter how we do things. We could turn our weird dystopia of an experience upside down and have a transformed society.

It felt like there was a moment where we could have canceled rent, could have saved untold people and businesses, could have paid folks to stay at home and created a space for a transformative moment in society. There was a kind of giddiness in the possibility – a grappling with our values and seeing how we could have a society that really cared for one another. I feel like it was close enough to taste.

But of course – we didn’t choose that way. We chose to go full dystopia and let half a million people die, many more to get sick, or lose their homes or their jobs. It didn’t have to be this way. But it’s what we did.

I can’t say I’m surprised. I can get pretty cynical about our American default settings. What I was surprised about was how palpable the other way was for a moment. It was modeled by other countries, for one thing. There were many places that sent their populations home and paid them to stay there. There were places that swung into action in looking after its vulnerable populations. There were places that developed ways for the whole to look after one another, even in isolation. There were places that supported artists specifically – knowing their livelihoods were decimated. Watching so many countries find ways to help their citizenry gave me a glimpse into a world where our lives might actually be valuable, instead of disposable. It helped me imagine a kinder world – one that didn’t require the claws and teeth of a constant struggle for survival.

As a Struggling ArtistTM I have long felt the strong undertow of Darwinian Economics. It feels like my entire career in the arts is pervaded by the atmosphere of a herd constantly being culled. Life in the arts is a giant dance audition where you’re waiting for your name to be called to see if you’ve been cut or made the cut. If you make the cut and survive to dance another round, you do not mourn those who were cut in your stead, you celebrate and dance another day.

Many years ago, I remember one of my NYC theatre company peers declaring that if there were companies folding, it was for the best – because it cleared the field for those of us with survival skills. I pushed back on this at the time – I was concerned by the loss of our elders and how much the system favored the privileged and the young, to say nothing of the white and the abled. Survival of the fittest, in theatre, often means the survival of the richest and most privileged. It doesn’t make for good art. It doesn’t make a vibrant community.

Survival becomes a badge of honor and the badge gets more impressive the longer you wear it. You either make it or you don’t. And while we think of “making it” as the mark of success, it’s also just – did you make it? Did you make it out of the scary place alive? Making it can just be getting to the end of the movie when so many of the other characters were lost.

I sort of thought this was just an arts thing – but watching our various governments handle this pandemic, I’ve realized that it’s everywhere. But now it’s actually life or death. The arts feel that way but you won’t actually die if you don’t make the cut. You might feel like you’re dying in being separated from your art but you still survive. In real life now – if you don’t operate with a certain amount of privilege – you might well actually die. Those who fled to their second houses are living through a very different pandemic than the ones who continued to work in the essential (and dangerous) jobs. Those were the people who the culture deemed no big deal to lose. We certainly didn’t pay them much better for the risks they were taking. Hazard pay was haphazard and we lost a lot of people. One of the things I keep thinking about is something Zeynep Tufekci said in her article, “5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating.”

The poor and minority groups are dying in disproportionately large numbers for the same reasons that they suffer from many other diseases: a lifetime of disadvantages, lack of access to health care, inferior working conditions, unsafe housing, and limited financial resources.

Many lacked the option of staying home precisely because they were working hard to enable others to do what they could not, by packing boxes, delivering groceries, producing food. And even those who could stay home faced other problems born of inequality: Crowded housing is associated with higher rates of COVID-19 infection and worse outcomes, likely because many of the essential workers who live in such housing bring the virus home to elderly relatives.

Individual responsibility certainly had a large role to play in fighting the pandemic, but many victims had little choice in what happened to them. By disproportionately focusing on individual choices, not only did we hide the real problem, but we failed to do more to provide safe working and living conditions for everyone.

The Atlantic, February 26, 2021

It is chilling to realize how ready to sacrifice others so many people are. This notion of personal responsibility allowed us to blame individuals rather than the systems that were killing off large numbers of people. The problem was not so much that the disease was intractable but more that our systems are so full of holes, we were bound to lose a lot of people through them and we did. But because as a nation, we seem to find the notion of disposable people acceptable, we just let them all get sick and let many of them die. It feels like somehow we’re in a war and are prepared to accept great losses for some reason.

One of the places that this country was seemingly fine to accept great losses was in the arts. The field has been decimated. The country just shrugged. No more arts? Fine. The Performing Arts have been closed for a year and only the most established and supported of organizations (or the smallest and most nimble) could survive such brutal depletion. But it’s just artists. No great loss.

It just – didn’t have to be this way. Certainly, we can blame part of it on the terrible leadership at the national level last year and also on terrible leaderships at the state and local levels as well. My governor cut funding to hospitals in the middle of all this. Does that make any sense? But as a people, I feel like we were all that dog with his coffee cup surrounded by flames saying “This is fine” when it was very clearly not fine. Much has been made of the great revealing of holes in our social net with all this. The pandemic has shown us so many failings. But it also showed us some hope for a different way of doing things there at the beginning. The solutions that were offered then would have fixed a LOT of things. If we’d paid people to stay home at first, fewer would have had to risk their lives out in the world and we’d have beat this thing by now. That simple choice would have been cheaper than all the scrambling stop gap measures that came after if we’d paid out the 1.9 trillion that just passed back in April of 2020, we’d already be back in business. But this country really does value money more than people. All those re-openings are not for people, they are for money. One of the riskiest things you can do is sit inside a restaurant – and yet it is one of the first things to come back, ostensibly to keep restaurants in business. But no restaurant can stay in business at 25% capacity. If we want to save restaurants, the way to do it is to cancel their rent. But landlords’ money is more important than restaurant workers’ lives and so the dystopia continues.

Sorry. Living in a dystopia where people are disposable is kind of getting me down. But remembering that moment of hope, from early on, where we could have made other choices, actually gives me a little boost. We could still make choices like that. We don’t have to be in a pandemic to do it. We could live in a kinder world, one where everyone gets to dance and no one gets cut.

This dance audition was so brutal, they cut ALLL the dancers and just left the studio behind.
Also, the studio has been cut as well.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist 

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Toilet Paper and Art

My improviser friend used to talk about his craft being toilet paper – that you pulled off a square and then threw it away. It was impermanent and that was its appeal. It was a uniquely disposable craft.

In our new toilet paper obsessed society, I’m not sure this analogy works anymore. No one is hoarding improvisers. They’re stuck at home like the rest of us – their skills going wanting.

But I had already been thinking about this analogy fairly often, even before the coronavirus made us fetishize toilet paper. I was thinking about it in relationship to things made on the internet, which often feel like toilet paper art as well. That is, we make something, we put it on the internet and the internet does whatever it’s going to do with it and then it gets washed away in the flow of whatever happens next. Almost nothing has a sense of permanence.

The first website I was a part of making was back in 2002 and it really felt like we were constructing a building. Our designer created a bit of art out of the art we had made and we felt it would be around forever. When I made a MySpace page, I thought of it as a place – and a place people would visit and spend time in. I thought they would click around and listen to everything.

I continue to have this old fashioned view of what happens on-line. When the virus sent everyone home, I thought, “Oh, now’s the time that someone will start reading the back catalogue of the blog. Someone’s about to go very deep into the library of Songs for the Struggling Artist.” But, of course, no one’s doing that. They’re not even reading the most recent blogs. In fact, the views on both my blogs have never been lower.

I suspect that this is mostly because everyone is panic reading all they can find about the virus and shutdowns and quarantines and such but ALSO because everything on the internet is disposable. We don’t go looking for interesting corners to click around in anymore. We don’t read anyone’s entire oeuvre or listen to anyone’s entire repertoire. We just watch the stream of information and ideas go by and pick out whatever looks interesting to us. Sometimes something comes up from the past – but for the most part, we consume our internet in an ever present present. It’s all toilet paper now.

As a person who makes things that live in this digital space, I don’t love this. I don’t find it encouraging. It’s hard to put one’s heart and soul and sweat and skill into something and watch it sink into the stream never to be seen again. It can be just as discouraging to, say, put on a play and have not many people come to see it – but at least in the live medium, you have the moment, you have the exchange. One of my favorite performance experiences ever was a show we put on for one audience member. No one showed up but her but we didn’t cancel and it was extraordinary. In remembering watching her watching it, I am transported to the sense of wonder on her face. That look is sustaining, even all these years later, in a way that a few likes on a post that disappeared into the internet ocean are not.

And now everyone’s livestreaming because what else can they do? It feels like you could fill a day with all the live concerts and performances that are suddenly popping up in a Facebook feed. Now, it seems, with everything shut down, the disposable nature of making things on the internet becomes even more disposable. We do it today and forget about it tomorrow.

The endless scroll of many social media sites makes it feel like the internet happens in front of us and it is seductive and hard to break free of. I know it’s hard for me to stop watching the flotsam go by to go purposefully look at something more permanent that I want to know about. But I suppose that’s my plea, that while we’re stuck at home, largely on-line, that we all go clicking around in the weird places on the internet like in the old days. Go investigate somebody’s entire web comic. Watch all of a choreographer’s recorded dances. Explore the back catalogue of someone’s writings. There are so many stories that got placed hopefully up on the web never to be seen again. It’s not like watching someone’s live performance in a theatre by yourself, of course, but taking a deep dive in some artist’s pool might offer something a little different than what floats by every day. It might all be toilet paper but some of it has been carefully sculpted into something wonderful somewhere. There are a lot of undiscovered treasures that have sunk to the bottom of the internet ocean, hoping to one day be revealed. Go diving, if you can.

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to help me find a more permanent place in the internet ocean?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

Or buy me a coffee on Kofi – ko-fi.com/emilyrainbowdavis



Performing Arts Going Dark

Have you all read Station Eleven? I mean, don’t, if you haven’t. Even the author recommends waiting a few months to read it. It’s a little too relevant right now. It hits a little too close to home. It begins with a pandemic that leads to the radical upending of civilization. You can see why you might want to wait a minute to get into it. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week – not just because of the pandemic – but because of what happens after the pandemic. The heart of the story is a traveling Shakespeare company that tours the devastated country. When nothing is left, we have the arts.

At the moment, with all the performing arts cancelled, it can feel like our work is unimportant or inessential. Suddenly, it is, technically, palpably dangerous to do what we do. Suddenly, it has become reckless to gather people in a room and share things with them. Suddenly, the very thing that makes the performing arts so magical is the thing that makes them dangerous. Almost everyone I know in New York works in the performing arts in some capacity and almost everyone I know is in a state of absolute disarray. As show people, we are built with an intense drive for the show going on. We are used to pushing through any numbers of difficulties in order to make it to the stage. To have the stage pulled out from under us is counter to everything we feel in the very fiber of our beings. The show must go on! It can’t be cancelled! It goes on! Isn’t it better to do a show? Isn’t it always better to do a show than not do a show? Won’t the arts save us all? Not in this case, no. Not in the way we’re used to.

What’s happening for us is not just a crisis of economics (though it is that and quite a serious one at that) but also a crisis of faith. If the shows don’t go on, who are we? What is all this for? How can it not be good to gather a group of people together and share art with them? To laugh? To cry? To tap our toes to the beat together? To have our heartbeats sync up as we watch? How? How? How?

But, of course, in a pandemic, it is very bad for us all to be in a room together. I am interested in the connections we share with other things that have had to shut down recently. Sports and religious gatherings are experiencing the same unilateral canceling. We are all shut down together – all the things that bring people together, that unite us, are dangerous.

But this does not mean they are inessential. Things that bring people together, like the performing arts, like sports, like religion, are key to our survival, to our thriving as a species. It feels to me that in losing that ability of being all together in a unified state, I’ve come to appreciate it anew.

Sometimes, you may have noticed, I get a little cranky about theatre. I see shows and they make me angry and sometimes I tell you about it. I get mad – partly because I want shows to be better and partly because my ability to make shows has been hampered over the years so I get mad about shows that have a lot of resources and squander them.

But here we are in the middle of a pandemic and almost all theatres have been shut down. And it becomes instantly clear that I would rather watch the worst show there is (It’s Bike. You know it’s Bike.) over and over and over again than have no theatre at all.

For all my ranting, I do love the stuff and I’m sad for even the worst show that has closed. It suddenly feels very important to me to know that shows are running, even ones I’ll never see, even ones I hate.

I hope that when this is all over, there will be a renewed appreciation for the performing arts and their important place in our culture. We were all shaken by how quickly the entire theatre business was shut down here in New York. It was as if someone flicked a switch and thousands of people lost their jobs and thousands more lost their dreams. Like that. In an instant. But this doesn’t mean the arts are a frill that get dropped in a time of crisis. It’s just that being with people is what the performing arts are all about and suddenly being with people is dangerous and so the performing arts become the most dangerous. And not because theatre people are some of the most touchy feely people out here, either. It’s because a bunch of people breathing the same air is the heart and soul of the work – and right now that air is treacherous. So we have to stop.

But maybe, once this has passed, we can come to appreciate what we lost when the theatres went dark.

Maybe it doesn’t need to be as extreme as Station Eleven – where survivors form a community building Shakespeare company. Maybe we don’t have to wait for the destruction of civilization as we know it to support the performing arts. Maybe we can support them right now so that theatre spaces will be able to open again, that shows can continue their runs, that freelancers can survive this terrifying downturn. As this article in Vulture says, “As concert halls, theaters, and museums around the world go dark, we all need to move quickly to ensure that when it’s finally safe to emerge from our lairs, we still have a cultural life left to go back to.”

Personally, I’ve come up with a project to keep some theatre folk creatively engaged with a project that we can do from our homes. I was working on it prior to this disaster in another form and it just happens to be possible this way. So I’m just rolling forward on that and it’s already delighting me.

The skills that help us bring people together in real life are stepping up to help keep us together while we are separated. Here are two that I know about – The Social Distancing Festival and Musicals from Home. Many many theatre folk are going to find this social distance thing very very difficult (as I’m sure most people will – but I think it hits our community driven community especially hard.) I feel quite certain this will drive a lot of them to become very inventive to create distance community and whatever those inventions are will benefit us all in the long run.

There will be theatre when this is all over. And concerts. And dances. And hopefully we will all appreciate them and being with each other all the more.

Look at all these theatre kids touching each other. We can’t do this right now. And it sort of made me tear up just looking at them. Photo by Mauricio Kell via Pixabay

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A Great Idea for a Musical! (or What is Art? And who gets to decide?)

A comment on my Art as Service post began this way: “I disagree with your theories about what is art and perhaps even what is service with art. I think the thing about art is that it has different meanings for different people.” And asked “Who gets to determine what is art and what is not? What is service and what is not?” which are good questions – even if it implies that it should definitely not be me who gets to determine such a thing.

The answer to these questions is that no one is determining anything. There is no line around art or service and just because I, a person on the internet said so, does not make it so. Unfortunately, I have not yet developed such an enviable super power.

In the absence of strong boundaries in the world, I attempted to make some distinction between entertainment and art, not because I want to be mean to entertainers but because I’m weary of watching artists suffer over the confusion. Since no one makes distinctions, the market also makes no distinction and capitalism just chews up art and entertainment and service all in one messy mouthful. Of course art means different things to different people but without a common distinction, artists suffer and diminish while corporate execs thrive. Without a line drawn, commercial art thrives while more esoteric art starves. Which is not to say that commercial theatre, for example, sucks. Some of it is very entertaining and artfully done. Just because I don’t think something is art doesn’t mean I think it’s bad or badly done or unprofessional or that I don’t want to see it. I love being entertained as much as anyone.

Art does not mean good. Entertainment does not mean bad. Entertainment can be great. Art can be terrible. Drawing a line between the two does not mean drawing a line between good and bad. It just means, for me, that we use different metrics for success in those two approaches. And listen, debate about this stuff has raged for centuries over wine, beer, cocktails, coffees and college cafeterias so I get that the “What is Art?” question can be controversial.

However, I’m very curious about why everything wants to be art. Why should we need SpongeBob SquarePants to be art? Why are we not satisfied to simply have it be an entertaining piece of theatre? If you’re making tons of money, entertaining people, having a great time, I don’t really understand why being an entertainment isn’t enough.

I have as much admiration for great entertainers as I do for artists. They’re just different flavors. One is strawberry ice cream, the other is coffee gelato. Both delicious. But I wouldn’t want one to be the other.

Part of the problem, I think is the word “art.” There are, problematically, two definitions. Etymologically speaking, art began as a way to say “skill.” The Greek word for art basically means craft, or skill. Commedia dell’ Arte was a popular entertainment of skill. They were skilled comedians. If someone used their art, they used their skills.

Round about the 19th century this other sense of art began to evolve – the sense of an artist as a person creating new and challenging work, as a sort of romantic expression of self and the universe and such. Art became an expression of something – a creation – an invention where once had been a blank page, stage or space. When I talk about art and artists, this is the sort of stuff I mean. I mean people who take what they are given to create something that challenges the status quo, that makes important inquiries into the human condition, that expresses something unique and untold where once there had been nothing.

The other form of art, the one that is skill and practice and rigor and craft and form is, of course, incredibly important – but I think of the person who crafts that as more of an artisan than artist.

Our American culture is profoundly confused by all these words. Take, for example, the way advertising and marketing have co-opted the word artisanal to now be entirely meaningless. What once meant something crafted by hand by a skilled practitioner with care and attention is now readily applied to mass produced food products. You could get an “artisanal” bagel at Duncan Donuts not long ago. I don’t know what that means. So what I’m trying to do in making distinctions is to point to the Dunkin Donutifying of art – that by making EVERYTHING art, then NOTHING is art and words lose meaning and poof, there is no funding for the expressive artist anymore.

It might help to keep these strands of art in mind – the art of skill and the art of expression/creation. Perhaps we need new words entirely – and the art that means skill – as in (Zen and) the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, as in foam art in coffees, as in balloon art and so on could be called one thing and the art that means invention and creation, as in what we hang in art museums and fund for the public good…that could have another name.

Having it all be the same thing is what prevents people with no experience of the arts from understanding why in the world we should support it, donate to it, give it public funding. They think, “I wouldn’t pay my barista extra for putting a swan on top of my coffee – I mean, maybe I’d tip her a dollar or something – but why should my taxes support the arts if anything could be art? After all, I just spent over a thousand dollars to take my family to see that show on Broadway. I did my bit.” (See also my post on We Support the Arts. Buying tickets for Broadway shows is not support.)

Anyway – I tend to think of entertainers as being particularly incredible artisans. The Broadway chorus boy may not be an artist (in my definition) but his skill at doing complex jumps and turns is remarkable. He is an artist in the same sense that the barista who has spent decades perfecting the perfect foam swan is. It’s arte. He’s an entertainer with incredible arte.

And if an artist, say, a choreographer, created a show that required a chorus of such artisans, they would be participating in the manifestation of that artistic experience. Likewise – if the artist, the choreographer, required a chorus of swan-making baristas, they too would be part of the manifestation of that artwork.

And I suppose this is where the service component comes in. So let’s back this up. Let’s say this artist, this choreographer wants to make a dance featuring a chorus of Broadway dancers and a flock of skilled baristas for his piece. He intends to make a piece of art. Why he wants to do it is what I was trying to point to in my art as service blog. He could want to simply get an idea in his head out in the world. He could want to see his thoughts reflected onstage. He could want a good review in the New York Times so his father will finally love him. And/or he could want to be of service to an audience in some way – to change the way they see the world, to shift some dynamic in the world, to simply be a voice for the unheard baristas of the world.

That’s what I mean by service.

What’s tricky, I think, especially for performers, in terms of understanding this, is that performers are often really in service to everything they do. A singer is in service to the song. An actor is in service to the play, a dancer is in service to the dance. They are artisans in service to the art, so of course this notion of there being art without a service component is actually baffling to a performer. They are in constant service.

And I expect it doesn’t help a performer to make distinctions between art and entertainment. In fact, it could be a hindrance. I remember once helping one of my actor friends run her lines for a terrible film. I mean, the dialogue was appalling and absolutely nothing of interest happened in it. I was deeply impressed by how much respect and attention my friend gave this wretched dialogue. It’s part of how I came to realize that I didn’t have it in me to really chase after an acting career. I loved/love to perform but I didn’t have the capacity to ignore terrible content. I could not put myself in service to anything or anyone that I did not believe in 100%. This is kind of a big liability for a performer.

For me, because I am creative in a number of different ways, I will often make distinctions between the part of art I’m practicing. When I’m creating something from scratch, beginning from a blank page, blank canvas, blank stage, I am a generative artist. When I am performing something someone else created, I am an interpretive artisan. The two impulses feel very different for me and there are times when I can only manage one and not the other. After the 2016 elections, for example, I had no capacity for creating anything new and could really only sing other people’s songs. Sometimes there is blurriness, sure. If I invent a whole new way of performing a song, that feels like I’m blurring the lines between generating and interpreting but still, I tend to make a distinction.

Fundamentally, I am talking about that blank page – about how a piece begins. That is where I am hoping to make the distinction between art and entertainment especially clear. That is – if a piece begins in a corporate boardroom, it is very likely not art. If, say, at Microsoft’s headquarters a bunch of execs sit around and say, “Hey, what if we got in on this Broadway market? I’ve been thinking Clippy the Musical would really make us a lot of money and give us some ironic legitimacy.”


The subsequent Clippy the Musical will not be art. Not even if they hire Tony Kushner to write the book, Bjork to write the music and Laurie Anderson to write the lyrics. Not even if they get Taylor Mac to direct it. Not that I’d begrudge any of those artists making a little bit of corporate money – but Clippy the Musical would still be a corporate property cashing in on a possibly lucrative market.

Now Clippy the Musical may sound silly but that is essentially how 9 out of 10 musicals are born. SpongeBob SquarePants is owned by Nickelodeon, which is owned by Viacom. Viacom is the real winner here. Most Broadway musicals don’t come from a writer or composer sitting in a room struck by inspiration. Most musicals begin at the corporate level. Whomever owns the rights to Pretty Woman hired an agent to hire them a team of writers and a director and they all got paid to give us Pretty Woman, the Musical. (Lord help us!)

There are those who will find this corporate exercise entertaining and I do not begrudge any writer, dancer, actor or singer the opportunity to make a bit of money for a change. I’m not saying it shouldn’t exist or that we shouldn’t enjoy it. Clippy the Musical might be delightful with the right people making it.

Let’s just not call it art, okay? That’s all I’m asking. But of course, the choice is up to you. You can call it whatever you want. I don’t “get to” decide anything more than anyone else does – but I’m hoping that being a little more circumspect about what we call art might lead to the culture beginning to value work outside of the corporate purview a little bit more. About the only thing art, as I define it, has going for it, is a kind of romanticism and a hint of respectability. I’d love to see the people who create something from nothing in their rooms (or studios or wherever), those who get inspiration from the world or the gods or whatever and not the corporate paycheck, get just a little something for their trouble.

This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Anchor, click here.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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You can help me make art

by becoming my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



Just One Song
May 31, 2018, 11:23 pm
Filed under: age, dance, Feldenkrais | Tags: , , , ,

One of my Feldenkrais clients was pretty much house-bound when I met her. She could get around her apartment with a walker but going out was really challenging for her. She used to go out dancing once a week but now she barely moved at all. Mostly she sat in her chair or propped up in her bed.

In addition to our Feldenkrais Functional Integration work together, I saw that I needed to find a way to keep her moving when I wasn’t there. I tried to give her some audio Awareness Through Movement exercises but she couldn’t really hear them so that possibility was out. I needed to help her find pleasurable movement, movement she could do. Since I knew she liked to dance, I recommended she dance in her chair once a day. We found a Beatles song on her phone and did some sit down dancing for a couple of minutes before she got tired. When I left, I gave her a prescription of dancing to one song every day. (We don’t do prescriptions in the Feldenkrais Method so I found it hilarious to use this language for dance.) I was pretty confident that this was going to help her. I know just a little bit of twisting and weight shifting would do her tremendous amount of good. And it did.

Then I realized I should prescribe myself the same thing. I love dancing and it always makes me feel better but I don’t do it as often as I might – usually because I don’t feel like I have the time to commit to a class or an extended dance session. It is very easy for a day to go by without any non-utilitarian movement – despite my firm belief in pleasurable movement as a beneficial practice. Additionally, I have been reeling from movement triggered migraines – so movement has been a bit of a landmine for me in the last couple of years. At their worst, the migraines just want me to lie very still in the dark.

But. One song, I can do. Not in the MIDDLE of a bad migraine obviously. But I can find a way to dance to at least one song once a day. Working with a client with such a limited range of motion has shown me how easy it is to lose flexibility, to lose the ability to experience movement as a pleasurable sensation. But it also shows me how much benefit there is in just moving what you can move. If you can’t move your arms, move your legs. If you can’t stand up, dance sitting down. If you can’t dance sitting up, dance lying down. Even if the only thing you can move is your eyelids, it is worth dancing those around or dancing in your imagination.

When we experience injury or pain or any movement limitations, we often shut down more than we need to. We think if we can’t dance the way we used to we can’t dance at all. But we can always dance something in some way. A finger dance? A nostril dance? I don’t know. But I do know that a little bit of dance goes a long way for the whole body.

In helping my client experience pleasurable movement again, I saw that I also helped her re-establish pathways in the brain that remember how to walk with more ease, to be able to get up off a bench unassisted, to regain balance and so on. When I saw her last week, she joyfully told me how she went out into the world four times that week. Once even, she went out unassisted. I attribute that regaining of independence to the dancing (and to the Feldenkrais, of course.)

I know the aids in the next room think crazy things are going on when they hear me singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” but I’m working on getting her to dance with her arms while lying down, which will eventually allow her to roll herself over. Extra-daily movement like dance helps the brain understand that you want to be able to move in many directions. We have a use it or lose it brain and if we only move in our habitual paths, we lose our capacity to move in other ways. For myself, I wanted to be able to keep moving in many directions, which I do with Feldenkrais but I also knew it was possible that I would enjoy my life more if I followed my own advice and danced to one song a day.

And, of course, once I’ve started dancing, I tend to go on. One song becomes two, two become three for as long as is pleasurable or as long as I have time for. It’s an incredible mood adjuster. There have been many times that I did not want to dance because I was feeling hopeless or angry or sad. I danced anyway because it was only one song, after all – and most of the time I felt better. At least a little bit. I have a little note stuck to my computer that says “One Song” so I don’t forget to do it. Sometimes it’s late at night and I see my little note and realize I still haven’t done it. So I put my headphones in and do a late night boogie before bed.

In our time strapped world it is so hard to find time to enjoy to move our bodies, to listen to music with attention, to “indulge” in non-utilitarian tasks. We can find time for one song, though. And one song can help.

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Need some help choosing a song? This is my dance playlist. Just hit shuffle and go!

This was at a college reunion. There was a DJ and a dance floor. That stuff is super awesome and fun. But I don’t wait for that stuff to find a way to dance.

This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Anchor, click here.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

You can help me keep dancing

by becoming my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Art, Entertainment and SpongeBob SquarePants

My friend told me about some friends of hers who came to see her dance performance and were clearly pretty baffled by it. She didn’t take this personally because she understood that these friends of hers had no experience of contemporary dance or art in general.

What was ironic about these folks with no art experience was that they were convinced they were dedicated arts supporters. They went to tons of Broadway shows after all; They thought themselves very artistically literate. My friend tried to explain to them that Broadway wasn’t so much art as entertainment but they had no idea what she was talking about.

I think most Americans would have no idea what she was talking about. We conflate art and entertainment so dramatically that it is sometimes very hard to distinguish between the two. I have spent my entire life in the arts and am only now starting to work out the distinction. Art can be entertaining and entertainment can be artful but art and entertainment are not the same thing.

I suspect that if you come from a country with funding and support for the arts, this distinction is obvious. The national theatres, state granted and council funded work iare more likely to be art and the shows in commercial houses are entertainment. Done and dusted. Sometimes there’s crossover but it’s mostly clear. Here, where we have no state theatre, no national arts, there is little to no distinction. Maybe at the margins you can find consensus. We might be able to agree that amusement park shows and cruise ships are entertainment and avant-garde performance in a gallery space is art – but as those two things approach one another, things start to get muddy.

The distinction can be muddy for people who work in Arts and Entertainment as well. When you think of yourself as working in The Business (as in Show Business) and The Industry (as in The Entertainment Industry) you approach your work in one way. If you think of yourself as working in The Arts, you are likely to approach it another way. Even if what you are doing is fundamentally the same. Context is everything. If I sing a song on a cruise ship, it is Entertainment. Even if I sing it artfully, it is still entertainment. If I sing that very same song in a contemporary dance performance, it’s art. Same material, same artist, different genre entirely. For many performers, there is no distinction and no need to make one. And perhaps that’s true for audiences, too.

But asking these categories to do one another’s jobs makes for an anemic art climate. In a capitalist culture, entertainment consumes art, like giant multi-national banks gobbling up local ones. Entertainment grows and expands while art starves and diminishes. People start to expect art to make money, to boost the economy, to create an insatiable demand for tickets. And while that may work for Broadway, for entertainment – it will never work for art. Art is not motivated by money. Art is after something else. Art is concerned with a dramatically different range of values. It won’t be a good return on your investment. If it IS a good return on your investment, odds are good, it’s probably not art, really. There are exceptions, of course. But very few.

I am pretty clear that I am pursuing art. I enjoy entertainment as much as the next person but art is my goal, my purpose, my raison d’etre. I mean, true, there is no business like show business, like no business I know. I agree that you can nowhere get that special feeling as when you’re stealing that extra bow. Applause is exhilarating and intoxicating and I am delighted to receive it any chance I get. But – for me, applause without art feels hollow. I’d rather do without applause than reckon with that emptiness.

And so we need to talk about SpongeBob SquarePants, the Musical. When I heard it was opening, I laugh/cried so hard at the absurdity of the world. SpongeBob SquarePants is not art. It’s on Broadway. It is theatre. But it’s not art, y’all. Not even close. No matter how much the Creative Team tries to convince us otherwise.

Tina Landau, former director of Steppenwolf Theatre (art,) writer of multiple theatrical works (art,) directed SpongeBob SquarePants and in a promotional video declares that this show is what we need now. America needs SpongeBob SquarePants The Musical, she suggests. Everyone on the creative team seemed to echo this sentiment of significance and importance in this video. Everyone was on message and seemed to be trying to convince us that this was a great artistic triumph.

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And maybe SpongeBob SquarePants, The Musical is amazing. The cartoon is very entertaining, I concede. Critics seem to love the musical (“It’s not that bad!” read one review I read) but even if it is artfully done, it is not art, it is not important, it is not what America needs now. It may be what Tina Landau, formerly a director of art, needs right now – like she needs a summer house, so she’s directing a mega show based on a lucrative licensed cartoon figure affiliated with a multi-national corporation. And that is fine. I do not begrudge Tina Landau being able to buy a house – not many theatre directors can do that, especially female ones. But I do begrudge her trying to convince us that SpongeBob is important, that SpongeBob is art. It’s not. It’s just not. I’m not saying it’s not entertaining or not well done – I’m saying it’s not art and I resent every single piece of media that equates it with things that are actually art. I saw multiple Best of New York Theatre 2017 lists and most of them featured SpongeBob and I didn’t see any with Indecent on them – which was the single most relevant piece of theatrical art I’ve seen in decades. SpongeBob is selling well and Indecent closed – twice. Entertainment sells like hotcakes. And Art is food for the soul and awfully hard to sell in mass quantities.

As an antidote to the entertainment-heavy world I live in, I’ve been reading the writings of Tadeusz Kantor, painter and theatremaker from Poland. He sits firmly in the art camp. He rails against the stultification that can come from theatre buildings. He bemoans the theatre’s move toward professionalism – toward codification and art strangulation. He would not be confused about the landscape we have here in America. He would not let the existence of SpongeBob SquarePants make him feel despair about his own work. His work has nothing to do with SpongeBob. And mine doesn’t either.

For me the distinction between art and entertainment comes down to a simple question. That question is related to Kantor’s history. During World War II, it was illegal to make theatre in Poland. He did it anyway, in a basement – risking death for his art.

The question I ask myself if I’m wondering if something is art or not is. “Would someone perform this in a basement in the middle of a war?” “Would someone put this on in their attic at great personal risk?”

I have a long list of shows I cannot imagine in a secret war torn basement and SpongeBob is right at the top of that list.

So why is this important? Am I just splitting linguistic and categorical hairs here? The American Theatrical landscape has always been thus. Let’s look at 1922. Alongside the premiers of Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Hairy Ape and The God of Vengeance were also plays called: Hunky Dory and Hitchy-Koo of 1922. There’s nothing new in the crass work presented alongside the sublime. It is perhaps our national impulse to sit entertainment side by side with art.

We once had national organizations to help foster and develop art. The Federal Theatre Project in the 30s and the development of regional theatres in the 60s. But now, due to the eliding of categories and things like enhancement deals, a regional theatre is much more likely to produce an entertainment than some art. There are very few places that foster the growth of art, independent from the rules of the entertainment business.

With no distinction made between art and entertainment, the Boards of theatre companies continue to make choices that privilege entertainment and the theatre’s bottom line. And there’s absolutely nothing in place to stop them doing that. On a smaller, more personal scale, artists who make ART are often made to feel that what they do has no value because it does not make a lot of money. Look at the concept of “making it.” “Making It” is a Show Business concept – not really an artistic one. But that doesn’t stop every artist I know from feeling bad about how much or little they have “made it.” Without a distinction between The Business and The Art, artists will relentlessly beat themselves up for failing to meet criteria that has nothing to do with their actual raison d’etre.

Artists can start to feel bad that they can’t make a piece of work that “America needs right now” because they can’t bring themselves to make something like SpongeBob. This could be mortally wounding to American art if we don’t start to make some distinctions and some adjustments to the field. SpongeBob and Kantor’s The Dead Class are technically the same medium. Naked Boys Singing and The Bald Soprano are both theatre. Is it any wonder people don’t want to support the arts? They think because they spent $150 a head to see School of Rock or Kinky Boots that they’ve done their bit. But they haven’t. They’ve paid $150 a ticket to be entertained. And the arts continue to languish unrecognized and underfunded.

There is a sort of Venn Diagram of Art and Entertainment. They overlap, for certain – but some things are clearly one or the other, while others sit squarely in the middle, as both. We fund and support the entertainment circle, including the bit that overlaps with art, while the Art circle is only supported where it overlaps with entertainment. This is not good for art, obviously. But is also not good for entertainment which benefits profoundly from that overlap. For the sake of our cultural health, we need to start making distinction so we don’t let art get left behind.

You can help me make art

by becoming my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs and an album of Love Songs. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 



A Remedy for What’s-the-Point-itis

Because one of my beloved collaborators loves the work of Monica Bill Barnes, I sought out a performance. As soon as I saw Happy Hour, I, too, was in artistic love. I laughed and cried. I laugh-cried and cry-laughed. It was one of those shows that made me feel as if there might be a reason to go on. I’ve seen it multiple times.

I’m not going to lie; there are some days in this artist’s life in which I get a bad case of What’s-the-Point-itis. When the labor and heartbreak of making theatre just doesn’t seem equal to the reward. For me, seeing Monica Bill Barnes and Company perform is a great cure for that feeling of wondering what the point is. Good art is the point.

Monica Bill Barnes’ latest show (One Night Only) was no exception in this way – but it also brought to the surface a new “-itis” that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with at first. I learned in this show that Monica Bill Barnes and I are the same age. I learned that we share a lifelong commitment to our respective art forms. And in learning about the cost of that commitment to the dancers during the show, I learned about the cost of my own.

This may be a spoiler (DANCE SPOILER ALERT – skip ahead if you’re going to this show and would prefer not to know what’s going to happen -) but towards the end of the show, the two dancers listen to a list of injuries they have sustained over their lifetimes in dance, as we watch them continue to dance. There is a concrete cost to dedicating your life to dance and as I listened to it, I cried my face off.

Partly I cried out of admiration for the performer/creators who are facing the accumulation of that cost (for my benefit as an audience member) and for whom there is a finite amount of time to continue to dance the way they want. But I think I also cried for all the things my own dedication to my art has cost me. I can’t list them for you, not by year or by category – but watching this show made it very clear to me that all these years of dedication to art have taken a toll. Is the toll physical? Maybe not directly – but as everything that happens to us mentally, emotionally, spiritually, happens through the body, I don’t see how it couldn’t be. There is a cost to this kind of dedication. I knew there would be costs and I made my choice to pay that cost willingly a long time ago. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have scars.

Watching an artist (who is my peer in age and commitment) honor the injuries, the pain and the cost along the way helps me honor my own. Seeing the sacrifices of a life dedicated to art laid bare, I can see my own dedication, my own sacrifices and how hard the road has been but also why it was worth it.

Seeing the cost, I also understand the point. The point is that we keep dancing, we keep writing, we keep creating, we keep producing, we keep performing, we keep making things because art is important to our humanity and each encounter with it, whether in the audience or on the stage, has the opportunity to teach us something about ourselves.

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One Night Only is still running for another couple of weeks, click here for info. And Happy Hour comes back soon, too, I think.

photo of Happy Hour by Grant Halverson (I lifted it from MBB&Co’s Website.)

You can also be a remedy for What’s-the-Point-itis by

Becoming my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here. And I usually sing at the end, if you want to hear that.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. If you liked the blog and want to support it but aren’t quite ready for patronage on Patreon, You can tip me a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist




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