So I’m fascinated with all this new technology. We all wonder how it’s changing our society. I’m here to talk about how it’s not, as opposed to talking about how it does. It’s too soon for us to know. And in the meantime, it’s important to not forget about what has kept us, US, for hundreds of years.
I’m talking about art and story telling: theatre, comics, music, pictures, design. While society changes, these things change in tandem. We learn from history that each of these artistic practices reflect the time in which they are created and the zeitgeist of an era.
Let’s not walk in circles. Today, we have comic books, theatrical productions, movies, books, the internet, radio (an ever changing medium and solid despite what some may think.)
But do they reflect who we are as a society? This is the question I want to get you thinking about and talking about. In many ways, the art that I see being created does, but a lot of the Mass Media or Mainstream Media (MSM) doesn’t resemble the art I am talking about. I’m talking about the difference between Ashton Kutcher and Paul Pope. The difference between Chris Nolan and Frank Miller. The difference between American Idol and 24 or Fringe. Dan Brown or Victor Davis Hanson?
I’m not good when it comes to analyzing visual art so I will leave that to someone who is more of an expert than I, BUT I do have a solid sense of theatrical theory and practice. What does that mean? I’ve studied the history of performing arts. Of storytelling. So it gives me a solid standing in that arena.
We don’t seem to be thinking about history in the MSM. That does not mean that we have forgotten about it. I think the MSM just thinks they don’t owe history anything. Like Zeus when he first became a god, the MSM is boistrously arrogant and enjoying it’s current reign over the older gods of theatre and pictures. Here I am, playing Aeschylus’s Prometheus when he tells the Ocean that Zeus would one day be sorry for it.
The art I see be created and the storytelling I see happening again, is very different from what I see in the MSM. So I ask you to think about history. In the theatre, the 20th century saw innovation beyond Aristotle’s wildest dreams. We also saw this happen in radio and cinema. Is the quality today better than it was then? In the MSM, it is not, but if you know where to look, you see that respect for history in places from time to time.
In the early twentieth century, theatre began to break from the traditional Aristotelean approach to story telling. You had the Da-Da movement in the 1920s that pushed the Theater of the Absurd into being. Then you had Bertholt Brecht in the 1940s and 1950s breaking the fourth wall and pushing for a narrative being told differently to an audience. This does not mean that the Aristotelean Tradition was forgotten in any way. The schism in approach reflects the period of history and social change we were going through.
Read the rest of this entry »