Thursday, June 9, 2011

There's No Business Like Show Business

There is an old Joan Crawford movie where she is directing the remodel of a luxury apartment.  When the contractor tells her that she can’t have a picture window in the middle of a load bearing wall because of all the structural problems, she tells him to knock down the wall anyway.  With a roll of his eyes, he agrees.  She got what she wanted, and he dealt with the logistical nightmare of making it work.

She had the vision, he had the expertise.  We see these collaborations all the time in the arts.  The author needs the editor, the musician - the engineer, the architect - the contractor.  The dreamer needs the doer.  Every John Lennon needs a George Martin.   

Sometimes the pairings are less obvious, less direct.  The choreographer needs dancers, the director needs actors, to be sure, but they all need builders and technicians and stage hands.   To survive financially, they need bookings and promotions and someone looking after the light bill.  Someone has to worry about schedules and budgets and enlisting volunteers.   The rent must be paid, the props must be stored, the audience must somehow appear and taxes must be filed.  Ignore any of those considerations for too long, and it doesn’t matter how much talent you bring to the stage.   

Unfortunately, the ones who pull such creative genius out of their hat, whether a script, a dance or a concert, are sometimes less enthused, or even less equipped, to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.  The very nature of dealing with the pesky details goes against their natural view of creation, and they just want to “knock down the wall,” without necessarily knowing how to keep the ceiling from falling in.  Sometimes it is not that there is a disregard for what must be accomplished, but that the right brain realities are so foreign to the left brain free thinking artist. 

That is part of the reason I believe theater companies need a diverse group of volunteers to help them thrive.  I was briefly on the board of an orchestral group.  Now, I don’t think I’ve ever played in an orchestra (does junior high band count?), but I was able to offer some assistance with organizing and coordinating.  Some of the most valued volunteers can be those who aren’t secretly waiting for their place in the spotlight.  Love the arts, but feel you aren’t talented enough to participate?  Don’t be so sure.  Maybe you’re the perfect person to help knock down the walls.

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