Point: Making a new musical today involves too slow a process

Producer Scott Rudin on New York Magazine's Vulture blog, 5/24/12

Why would musical theater be the only culture that resists newness? It doesn't make sense. Bands become successes on tumblr. Where's the tumblr of musical theater? [The problem is] older people are willing to pay for it, and they're the same audience that's not going to want something new. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'd rather go see our future than most musicals. The theater is simply not democratized in any way, and other art forms are. And that's even more true of musicals ... If you look at what people are interested in, it's fast! They have trouble keeping up with the pace of contemporary life, and they want art that reflects that and elucidates that. You can shoot a hip-hop video in a day. You can make a movie very, very quickly. You can make a TV show and get it on in a minute and a half. And nothing in musicals is like that. In the days when people were writing the classic musical, they got written and produced in less than a year. Imagine seeing On the Town when it was literally about what was happening in New York the year it was written!


Counterpoint: There's something beneficial to writing a show gradually

Composer Jeanine Tesori on New York Magazine's Vulture blog, 5/24/12

I think it takes a while to reach your peak, and all these [composers] are in their 40s or just turning 50, and they're just now figuring it out. I turn 50 in November, and I feel like I'm just now beginning to understand what I'm doing. 'You've got kids, you've got movies to score: You can't write a show a year, you just can't do it.' You write over a longer amount of time than has historically been true. You could start a show every year, [but] it doesn't means the show will be done at the end of the year. There's something beneficial to writing a show gradually: They 'graduate,' freshman, sophomore -- and hopefully they don't go on the plan where they're in grad school for years and years. You have to push them out into the world. Is there any way we can do something on Broadway, short stays, three-month stays, so we're not dependent on the long run? Because that would be one thing that would take the pressure off running forever.


The 'slow art' movement has expanded, um, quickly over the last 2 years

Aparna Narayanan, Capital New York, 5/3/12

Slow Art Day, [is] an annual event during which art lovers visit local museums and galleries to look -- slowly, deliberately, and thoughtfully -- at pre-selected works, and then repair to lunch to discuss the experience. [It] began in August 2009 with a single venue -- the Museum of Modern Art in New York -- and just four participants. The concept was an instant hit; it expanded to 55 sites across the world in April 2010 and to 101 in 2012 -- this year's selections ranged from a sculpture garden in Ohio to contemporary works in Poland, and from a food-related art tour of Manchester, England to photographs and video installations at the Tate Britain in London. At each venue, a volunteer host selects the art to be viewed. As a result, "art" is defined in its most diverse and subjective sense. The idea, organizers say on their website, is to "slow down and really see art" by spending 10 minutes meditating on each work rather than "breezing past artworks in the standard eight seconds." But, at the McKenzie gallery at least, slowing down to see art didn't seem to mean quieting down to contemplate the works. Host Alison Pierz explained that Slow Art Day was inspired by the Slow Food movement: "I like to think of art as sustenance. It sounds hokey, but it's good for the soul. These things take time to make, so let's take time to appreciate them."


Commentary: The fast-moving world of Twitter is a good/bad thing for writers

Mark Shenton, The Stage blog, 5/29/12

The world moves fast nowadays but Twitter moves even faster. In the constantly updated timelines of Twitter users, we are both generating content and absorbing it at a pace that's literally unstoppable. In an interview in yesterday's Guardian, [writer] Graham Linehan spoke of both the creative benefits and dangers of Twitter. On the one hand, it has increased his personal profile no end; as he says, "Twitter is like - it's like I blinked into existence. I've been writing comedy for 20 years, but I only got invited on to Have I Got News For You six months ago. It's because suddenly I existed for a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't have known me." On the other hand, though, he points out that it provides a dangerous distraction. "I go up to my office and sit down in front of my computer and turn on the internet and then I don't work. I have to use all these programs that cut off the internet, force me to be bored, because being bored is an essential part of writing, and the internet has made it very hard to be bored...The creative process requires a period of boredom, of being stuck. That's actually a very uncomfortable period that a lot of people mistake for writer's block, but it's actually just part one of a long process. The internet has made it very difficult to experience that."


Commentary: We desire change but hate it when it happens too fast

Anthony Burt, The Wrap.com, 4/30/12

Director Peter Jackson [is using] new technology for the two "Lord of the Rings" prequels: [shooting] the movies at double the usual 24-frames-per-second filming speed to "improve" audiences' cinema-going experience. Personally, I love the innocent, heightened experience of unreality that comes from watching a film at 24 frames per second. It's visually different from how we view our normal day-to-day reality. The look of film ensures that we, the audience, are transported away on a fictional journey of make-believe. And that is what we all pay to go to the theater for, right? James Cameron says he'll be shooting the next two "Avatar" movies at 60 frames per second. Let's slow down a little here, shall we? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for embracing new technologies, shooting digitally and using multi-platforms for telling intricate stories. All those things make being a filmmaker more personal, immediate and accessible these days. But if you're going to make a drastic change to the base-line of what an audience expects -- i.e. to go see a movie that looks like a movie instead of a more "real-life" video report on a news channel -- then I think the best approach to take, without sounding too boring, is to make that change slowly. Humans desire change but, let's be honest, we hate it when it happens too fast. So, directors, please ease us into the change gently. Otherwise I can see many of us are likely to balk at such a sharp altering of visual style and on-screen production values because our eyes, quite literally, can't grasp what we're watching.


Report: How some in the arts are adapting to the fast-changing landscape

Anne Dunning and Nello McDaniel, ARTS Action Research website, May 2012

The simple (rather than simplistic) fact is, that the arts must lead their own change. It is the will and the responsibility of arts professionals to ensure that their art-making survives, thrives and endures. While others have been obsessing over the problems, many in the field have been writing new narratives grounded in the realities and priorities of the arts professionals themselves and fully cognizant of the enormous challenges facing the arts today. They are keenly aware of the radically changed and changing cultural, political, technological, and resource landscape that accompanies these challenges; and they see new opportunities embedded and emerging as fast as the landscape is changing. These new narratives are by and about a generation of arts professionals more intrigued by the opportunities than intimidated by the challenges; agile and adept in using new technologies and forging new relationships; working horizontally and laterally rather than vertically and hierarchically; and seeking like-minded partners while rejecting conventions of the past. Importantly, this is a generation of arts professionals characterized by attitude not age. From our work sites across North America, we've observed, documented and incorporated new information and working processes acquired from change-leading arts professionals. [A] special report, The Emerging Narratives in the Arts, offers our insights and evolving understanding about how arts professionals are quietly but decidedly leading change. 

Please consider the environment before printing out this email.  Thanks.
YOU'VE COTT MAIL is a free service for professionals in the arts.  Emails are sent most weekdays. 
If you are not already on the distribution list and would like to sign up, please click here:

Join Our Mailing List      Follow me on Twitter     
Click here to view an archive of recent past editions of "You've Cott Mail."