Monday, March 8, 2010

Anne Bogart

Photograph: Joan Marcus
Mary-Lousie Parker in Dead Man's Cell Phone Directed By Anne Bogart

I'm reading a book by Anne Bogart for my Directing class called A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre. I haven't gotten very far in yet, but a little bit of the introduction articulated an idea that I hold true in my own work. I just wanted to share.

To succeed in this fast-changing world requires action, speed, decisiveness, and hard work. To survive, to keep up, to feed a family, to ensure a roof over our heads, it is necessary to act from a very particular personal impulse: the survival instinct. And there is always the danger that this survival mode will dominate the artistic process. Most of the choices that we make in the survival mode issue from a need for security and advancement. But the instinct for security gives access only to a small part of our creative abilities. If we limit our impulses to the survival instinct, our scope and range of artistic work will be limited. Lewis Hyde in his book entitled: The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property suggests that humans always take action and make decisions from two possible sources: the survival instinct or the gift-giving impulse. The gift giving impulse, like the survival instinct, also demands action and decisiveness, but the results differ because the intention that provokes the action has nothing to do with security. The action originates in the impulse to give someone a girft and the urge to create a journey for others outside of their daily experience. This instinct requires generosity, interest in others, and empathy... We create journeys for others to be received in the spirit of a gift.

To approach the theatre as an art form, we must be able to act in thie empathetic spirit. Each of us is a producer and an artist in one and we must take care that one does not overwhelm the other. The producer in us must protect the gift giver and know when and how to give it space and freedom. The gift giver must step aside for the surival instinct in the right moments.

Theatre and movies are often critisised as narcissistic, but this responce defines the difference for me. Is the actor in it for the fame or for the story being told? Are the production staff looking to make money or make good? I don't think it has to be only one, but it does have to be a balance of both if one wants to function within society, but history does tell us that some of the best artists that do it despite their hardships in life. So my advice would be it is better to give than to recieve, but to keep a toe in the recieving end for there can be no giving if there is no one to graciously accept the gift.

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