Wednesday, October 27, 2010


From Seth Godin:
Traditional corporations, particularly large-scale service and manufacturing businesses, are organized for efficiency. Or consistency. But not joy.

McDonalds, Hertz, Dell and others crank it out. They show up. They lower costs. They use a stopwatch to measure output.
You don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to fall prey to this mindset.  "That's how the big guys do it," is a self-prescription for an eventual crash.  Particularly in the arts, where remarkable and sensical rarely seem to meet.  I'm not saying "Be inefficient!"  I'm saying, put the focus on the work and on the audience. NOT on stacking a Board of Directors with "grey hairs" (who couldn't give a shit less about reaching that emotional resonance with an audience that only live theatre can create), or taking roll at workcalls to insure all your dues-paying members are fully indentured to their servitude.
Worse, the nature of the work is inherently un-remarkable. If you fear special requests, if you staff with cogs, if you have to put it all in a manual, then the chances of amazing someone are really quite low.

These organizations have people who will try to patch problems over after the fact, instead of motivated people eager to delight on the spot.
This is a deadly way to go about making theatre.  To quote Brook in The Empty Space:
In a living theatre, we would each day approach the rehearsal putting yesterday’s discoveries to the test, ready to believe that the true play has once again escaped us. But the Deadly Theatre approaches the classics from the viewpoint that somewhere, someone has found out and defined how the play should be done.
I would extend that definition of Deadly Theatre to encompass more than just "the classics."  Back to Godin:
The alternative, it seems, is to organize for joy. These are the companies that give their people the freedom (and yes, the expectation) that they will create, connect and surprise. These are the organizations that embrace someone who makes a difference, as opposed to searching for a clause in the employee handbook that was violated.
It comes down to your first principles, your philosophical underpinnings.  God help me, it comes down to discovering for yourself the relevence of theatre, the whys and wherefores of what you're doing. If you don't have the philosophy right, your actions are meaningless, no matter how efficient or consistent the operation. 

You want efficiency and consistency?  I give you Chicken McNuggets:

Chew on that.

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