Thursday, January 28, 2010

Survival of the Fittest

If you have the time, I urge you to read this blog post from Dewey 21c, Richard Kessler's Blog about the proliferation of nonprofits in the past decade and a half.  There's something to be said for wanting to change the world, but can't we always accomplish more when we work together?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Let's Sell Out, Jersey Shore Style

Photo courtesy of the lovely KB center w/ "JWoww" and "PaulyD"

 I don't know if anyone is quite the sucker for pop culture that I am, but click on the title if you haven't heard about MTV's "The Jersey Shore".  I can't speak to the value of the show, or the quality of its participants, but this show is getting a LOT of publicity.  I have friends in DC who were scrambling to get tickets to a "Jersey Shore" party, every news station picked up on a story from the show in the past few weeks, and I can't pass a newsstand without seeing the famed "guidos" and "guidettes".

What's remarkable about the Jersey Shore is that its based upon the same principles as "The Hills", another MTV reality show that seems to be falling out of favor, yet it's rocking the pop culture buzz.  Why? Well part of it has to do with the economy.  Who wants to watch rich Hollywood kids blow money on parties and expensive clothes when they can't afford their morning cup of joe?  On the show, the Jersey Shore kids have to work at a t-shirt shop on the Boardwalk for the luxury of being filmed.  They go to clubs where the cover is probably in the single digits, and there doesn't have to be a drink minimum because everyone's there to get plastered, not show off their Louboutins.  Basically, we all appreciate a little low brow fun because we can relate to it.

Additionally, these kids are selling the begeeezes out of themselves.  There's a little bit of Seth Godin's "The Purple Cow" in this.  The product (guidos and guidettes) is different from the rest of the Hollywood watered down personalities we've gotten from reality casting directors in recent years.  This makes the product remarkable.  Next, is the drama that got the show into the news to begin with, and finally, the fact that they've taken advantage of the hype by appearing in every tabloid possible, and at parties across the country.

Smart, right? So maybe we could try this model out in the upstanding world of theater.  What if we let our artistic integrity take a back burner for a minute, bring something completely brass and scandalous to the fore, and tried to create some tabloid worthy drama?  Is it too Speidi?  Is it worth it if it works? Is it crazy?

Regardless, I'll keep following the tabloids, and YOU keep thinking of new ways to make theatre more profitable!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Arts Education vs. Great Works

Yes, I am late. Anyhow, I came across this very interesting post on Richard Kessler's blog, Dewey21c, digesting a post by David Byrne.  Mr. Byrne suggests we cut government funding for the work of "old dead guys" in lieu of arts education. (Read the comments, totally valuable and/or entertaining).  Quite frankly, I don't even think there is a debate here because as two sides of the same coin, you can't really pit one against the other.  If you want to teach a young soul arts so they can grow up to create new art, you're going to have to expose them to old art so they have a framework.  You just don't get Shakespeare until you see it performed, because it's meant to be performed, not read from a book at a desk!
This got me thinking about all the other "old dead guys" I've enjoyed in my lifetime:  Vivaldi, Mozart, Wagner (oh wait, no I did NOT enjoy Wagner).  Of course the Musical Theatre greats: Gilbert and Sullivan (technically operetta but close), Rogers, Hammerstein, Kern, Hart, Cole Porter.  It was in this moment when I realized how many great Musical Theater greats aren't in fact "old dead guys" but very alive, (and potentially stalk-able) old guys.  (This is the part where I talk myself out of stalking Steven Schwartz)
How cool is it, that of all the performing arts, Broadway, is the one place where living artists are selling more tickets than dead ones!  Good for you theater artists, good for you. (Stay alive, in this business your art will not sell itself, you have to sell yourself :) fun, right?)

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's the craziest thing you've ever done.....for a cause?

Whether you wanted to or not, chances are you've seen a clip of some fame seeking lunatic eating raw bull's balls or climbing through a pit of cockroaches on reality television.  (Aren't you glad I evoked that visual for ya?)  There seems to be no end to what people will do for money, but what about money for charity?  It seems reality shows have gotten on the do-good bandwagon, donating proceeds from this challenge or that to a charity of the winner's choice.  Kudos to that, if we can inspire people to get up and help others, I think that's awesome.You know what else is awesome (not to mention completely insane), Burroughs Annual Freezin' for a Reason.
Apparently, every year the crazies gather to run into the Long Island Sound during the chilly month of February to raise money for the Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport CT.  Really people?  Actually, I would totally pay to see this, so I did, and you can too.  Make a donation to Burroughs here.  
So what's the craziest thing you've ever done for a good cause?  Run a marathon (yes, I consider marathon running a completely insane undertaking)?  Eat bugs?  Jump into the Hudson River (gross, right)?  Keep up the good work crazies, you're making a world of difference!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, New Plans

If you work in New York theater, you're probably qualified to work in the circus.  Why?  Because you must have mastered the art of juggling.  Your schedule involves multiple colored balls up in the air, rising and falling at a rate that would make a normal human being dizzy.  Part of this is out of necessity.  First, you need to juggle multiple jobs to pay your rent, but later, as you become more successful, that success is based upon the fact that you can handle well, everything at once.  Sometimes though, as a juggler, it's easy to over-commit yourself.  We've all been stretched a litttttle to thin from time to time and were unable to give our full focus to one thing or another.
So, in the interest of my health, sanity, and the value of all my future projects, I am resolving to NOT over extend myself this year.  Part of this means that I should have time to write two blog posts a week.  Think I can do it?  Check back every Tuesday and Friday to see if I'm keeping up with my resolution to keep my schedule open!