Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Seth Godin is Wrong Again

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you may know that I think very highly of marketing guru Seth Godin. He gets a point I’ve argued in the past: Marketing is storytelling. Storytelling is our main business in the theatre, and you can’t successfully divorce the marketing of a play from the production of a play. And so it is I believe the promotional actions that accompany a production should be tightly married to the production itself, so much so that I consider the graphic design of postcards, posters, banners and programs on par with the scenic, lighting, costume and sound design.

The postcard is the first experience your audience has of the show. Why would a director or producer allow for an arbitrary or poorly thought out or stylistically inconsistent first impression?

Every now and then Seth Godin posts something that I vehemently disagree with. (I know what you’re thinking: “Is there any other way in which you disagree with something, dick?” You’re right, you’re right.) Today is one of those days:
An early adopter seeks out new ideas and makes them work.

An adapter, on the other hand, puts up with what he has to, begrudgingly.

One is offense, the other is defense. One requires the spark of curiousity, the other is associated with fear, or at least hassle.
Not always, Seth. Not in the arts, and certainly not in small theatre production.

There is an art in adaption that goes beyond “begrudgingly” putting up with what you have. It is an art of taking stock set pieces, off-the-rack clothes and inadequate lighting equipment and conjuring every ounce of creative and technical skill to create something more. Adaptation is creative change; is evolution. Adaption is the essence of “zooming,” a concept Godin spends well over 250 pages defining in his 2002 book, Survival is Not Enough.

Semantically, I get it. Change one letter and you can spin a pat little comparison. But it’s a false comparison and a blanket statement that rings false.

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