Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I have met the Enemy

Tony Adams asks,I answer:

Tony asks in a very well thought out post a simple question which I will sum up as, Why Don’t We Make Them Us? Why don’t artists step up and sit in the big boy seats?

Well the first and easiest answer is that they don’t want to. The want to do Their Thing. They want to be an actor, or designer,, or playwright.

Secondly? The Institutions don’t want them. Not in America. Not in 2008. This is an era of specialization, and there is no reason to hire an actor with some back office chops rather than an MBA. Not a single non-altruistic reason. Why would you hire someone that you know for a fact is only half paying attention to the job you need them to do? The mechanics of it alone are iffy. And are you going to have them work when the office is closed? The big boys rehearse during the day. But I’m piling on…

For my money the biggest reason specifically actors aren’t stepping up (outside of the fringe) to positions of leadership on the organizational side is that we’ve trained them to do as they’re told.

In American theater most people come to the business via education. They discover it in high school or college and are trained in either pre-professional or conservatory programs. That training is largely carried out by lapsed or current professionals who teach their student to operate in the system and the hierarchy they know.

That system is of course the current system, and that hierarchy is the primacy of the text, then the director, with the actor doing as they are told.

And they are listening.

Did your school teach you how to be a producer?
Poster design?
Advertising theory?
Social networking?
Grant writing?
Press release writing?
Interview technique?

Are actors forced to take play writing and design classes at you alma mater?

We are getting the actors we ordered. They do What They Do.

Of course lots of them are starting companies of their own. And they’re failing at the same rate because they have to learn by trial and error.

Artists, actors at least, aren’t stepping up because they don’t want to and because they don’t have the skills institutions  need to run the business efficiently.

Your Turn

How am I wrong? Which assumption is one step too far?

I don’t want this to be proclamation, I want it to be discussion.

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