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Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Twitter & The 50,000 Thoughts

In 21st Century Culture on October 11, 2013 at 6:45 PM

 

TWITHASHTAG1

“Welcome to your future, kiddo.” I’m gonna go write a pamphlet and paper the globe.

Monday NYC Theatre, 2005: “From Tel Aviv To Ramallah”

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, Millennial Generation, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on June 29, 2011 at 10:24 AM

From Tel Aviv To Ramallah  was a production I attended, spontaneously and alone, on a rainy Monday night in Manhattan, late 2005.  As many theatre patrons know, Mondays are the day of the week when many theaters are dark (no performance.) But sometimes, these are the best opportunities to catch the magic of live theatre. And here’s how I managed to catch this one particular night which resonates more and more with each passing year.

Here in New York City, a smorgasbord awaits the avid theater-goer. Even if you are on a budget (students or starving, Bohemian artists; or cash-poor adventurers, like me,) folks have ways of getting tickets. The catch is, most discounts demand the person be ready to go the day-of the performance.

Well, there’s a reason why I love seeing theatre, at the last minute, with no expectations. To elaborate, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict inspired a number New Plays Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway in 2005 and I found myself trying to attend as many as possible. A handful of these plays challenged perceptions, offered insight, a human story, all those things that made other productions worth the risk. To bluntly put it: if I allowed the synopses and especially, the critical reviews, to pick and choose which productions I saw then, I’d have missed the best one.

The habits for overtly political theatre may be a time honored tradition in theatre history but what is it more akin to in the 21st Century? What politics are we addressing and how?

Every time we sit down for a performance arts piece, centered around modern day conflicts and cultural-politico-socio-ideologies, we risk exposing ourselves to the moribundity of Populist Theatre. (Not just theatrical mediums but all media and its audiences are more easily are mistaking political for populist propaganda.) A bad-habit we are all forming, because it is becoming all to “normal.”

That is, to employ mechanisms like “definitive archetypes,” portraying only selective pieces of information, building upon one opinion, one perception of a war, stereotyping each of the cultures involved. Pounding cheap, theoretical conjecture into an audience already over-saturated in Op/Ed news and information.

In the case of certain productions about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and also, the War On Terror, the human experience serves only to cater for the intent of Populism. To add emotional impact, ignite the zeitgeist, am I correct?

A reflection of the humanist struggle when the forces of Political or Cultural Movements subsume a person’s existence?

See, this is why I like walking into a production, understanding the risk, not knowing much about it, and hoping for a jewel.

As part of the Out Loud: New Play Reading Series at Ars Nova in 2005, the show From Tel Aviv To Ramallah performed for only that one night. And for those 75 minutes or so…  Man, I wish I could bring Yuri Lane and his solo production here, today, for people to see. I think its message is more important than ever.

At a small but inviting performance venue on 54th, between 10th and 11th Avenue, I took my seat among the small audience. Two young men, maybe 16 years old, were sitting in front of me, excited to see their favorite beatbox performer and drinking Red Bull. They came in from Connecticut. They were not expecting a powerful piece of theatre and neither was I.

Yuri Lane avoided all the aforementioned pitfalls for the Political and Populist Theatre productions. He did it simply. With minimal design, he told us a story. Using his skills with beatbox, language, rhythm, gesture; using three light cues to distinguish SR, SL and Center; finally inverted pictures, multimedia projected on the backdrop, he set the scene for a fable about one young man from Tel Aviv and one young man from Ramallah.

Instead of showing us who was wrong and who was right, he told us of Amir and of Khalid. The idea that dreams and ideals of youth exist in separate microcosms outside the larger reality of (the Israeli-Palestinian) conflict set the story in motion. We learn about two different, but also similar people, whose goals are not unlike yours or mine. One wants to be a DJ. One wants to own an Internet Cafe. They share the threat of attacks. And their journey shows how a gradual diffusion of the greater reality into each microcosm, negates the youthful idealism for a future independent of violence and injustice. Both have their dreams compromised. Both must transition from adolescent to adulthood. Both must face each other in the end and the choices they make, leading them to the final moment of the play. A vision of peace comes down to two young men, who make one choice. Peace, perhaps, may not be realized by Treaties or United Nations intervening, or a great leader’s solution, but perhaps, it begins with a choice. An understanding.

And the audience is left without any clear answer about who is right, who is wrong and why one side is bad versus the other. Why would we presume an understanding? How to solve the permutations of a conflict, as deep and complicated as the Israeli-Palestinian hostilities?

Rachel Havrelock wrote and directed this play.

Is our civilization so solid that you do not fear to shake the pillars on which it rests? Can you not see that all falls in upon you if one column be shattered? Could you not have learned if not to love one another, at least to tolerate the great virtues and the great vices of each other? Was it not your duty to attempt –you have never attempted it in sincerity– to settle amicably the questions which divided you, the problem of peoples annexed against their will, the equitable division of productive labor and the riches of the world? Must the stronger forever darken the others with the shadow of his pride, and the others forever unite to dissipate it? Is there no end to this bloody and puerile sport, in which the partners change about from century to century– no end, until the whole of humanity is exhausted thereby?

ROMAIN ROLLAND, “Above The Battle,”

Journal de Geneve_, September 15, 1914.

Alice’s Bucket List: Hashtag On Twitter, Epic Win

In 21st Century Culture, NEWS AND COMMENTARY, TWITTER CULTURE on June 9, 2011 at 1:46 AM

Within moments of seeing the first message on my stream, the hashtag #AliceBucketList was trending worldwide.

A 15 year old girl with terminal cancer just started a blog on Blogspot.com. There are only two entries thus far, but what stands out immediately? Her Bucket List.

And guess what’s on it?

…. TO TREND ON TWITTER? Some may argue no, this is not on her “Bucket List,” but by creating the trend, more people are going to see her blog and reading it.

*

Here she is, Alice Pyne, http://alicepyne.blogspot.com/?spref=tw

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Again, within moments, enough people retweeted the link to her blog and the Hashtag, #AliceBucketList, to start it trending worldwide. Behold! Twitter can be used for good. Yes, there are the #Weinergate ‘hashtagging’ species of Twitter users, but the power of this little hash symbol ought not be underestimated.

Alice Pyne helps us see how the communication and message capabilities across a social network platform like Twitter, can be used for good purposes. Despite being separated by geography, user names, and computer screens, we can actually come together and spread a little love and support. Will this really make a difference in someone’s life? Consider the case of Alice and her Bucket List as an example. She makes a difference in our lives.

Cancer is a monster many face but the importance of self-education and cancer awareness, preventative medicine and also, community support, is something every single one of us must face, NOW. Not too many folks know what to do if they are diagnosed. Not too many folks know there are things we can do to help cancer patients. But this new platform for communication has allowed for there to be a forum to access and share information like this, so more people can learn and a difference can be made.

So, to Alice, I want to say thank you.

DEVELOPING, June 9, 2011: 01:50 FROM June 8,2011: 23:45 (EST) from 19:00 (EST)

I find it fascinating that I experienced an ad hominem attack from a random Twitter user who stated in a tweet that I endorse, “Lying by any means.” I do NOT advocate for using a lie to get attention. The question is, within the 140 characters allowed on Twitter, are using “hooks” as they do in marketing and advertising, examples of “lying.” Is this an example of a “False Hook,” and an immoral event on the social network? What do you think?  See the latest from the BBC and David Cameron’s support for Alice’s Bone Marrow Donor Aim

No Shit, Sherlock: Another Boomer Thinks Millennials Suck

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, Millennial Generation, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on April 5, 2011 at 6:49 PM

New York City

April 5, 2011

Here we go…AGAIN.

This time, we’re getting it from HuffPo and a Mr. Michael Kaiser, whose affiliation with The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., makes him a powerful proponent for the arts. Unfortunately for our nation’s capitol, his personal feelings about the Millennial Generation make him a powerful proponent for pulling the funding from young artistic endeavors. Who’s going to want to finance a generation of drooling, ambivalent, self-entitled, adolescent Peter Pans, who have never, according to Mr. Kaiser, been exposed to “high art?”

I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Liz Maestri for responding to Kaiser. She gives him a run for his money and I encourage you to read her post today, entitled Join Michael Kaiser In The Fight For Youth

And of course, I had to respond to her excellent post. All of us need to champion another voice rising up against this regurgitated argument. Kaiser’s position is offensive not only because of what he says about Millennials, but also, because his talking points have no evidence to support them as anything but pure conjecture.

Can I get a round of applause, here? Will fellow ladies and gentlemen of the Bacchae, please stand up? Make some noise, hail Dionysus and antagonize this Pentheus out of his walled city to play….

SNAP! You are awesome. Thank you for writing a brilliant testimony. Excellent use of the classical method for deconstructing the reputed position, I might add. Ad hominem rhetorical redundancy, meet the Millennials! (And they say we’re all too dense to appreciate the arts.)

Very articulate, passionate and cogent response to this Kaiser’s HuffPo article, one I fear to fully read myself. Having a personal investment in the fight for my generation, it feels damn good to see someone else standing up against the senile and redundant rhetoric.

I’ve been actively refuting the Millennial stereotype since I saw the front page of January 2005’s TIME Magazine and read its “TWIXTERS,” Opinion/Editorial. The ripple effect of this Lev Grossman piece has been astounding. Six years later, reading about our (as in Millennials) ‘cultural-sociological evolution’ in the mainstream media has been torturous for folks like us but like candy for the elder generations, primarily Boomers. Even more frustrating, they loathe any Millennial who dares to write an article defending the stereo-type. I’ve tried. The effect is a wonder to observe. How seething with rage and sadly disenchanted people seemed, as made evident in the responses. Why such anger? Why the disenchantment? Why is it our fault?

The position being argued, despite all the circumstantial evidence and statistical analysis, remains offensively weak. In almost every article written, the same three errors in judgement appear. Unfortunately, people like Grossman and Kaiser forget what it was like to be 25 or 34. That is their first mistake.

The second mistake is the most egregious because its hypocrisy augurs a kind of transfered neurosis. Their own experience of transitioning from an adolescent to an adult is not a qualifier for negating the promise of youth, the character of a generation. On the contrary, it is a qualifier for an empathy that every generation begs of their elders. “I’m sorry, I thought the whole James Dean, Juvenile Delinquency, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Hippie Movement, and stuff, was younger generations rebelling against the elders who misunderstood them?”

The third mistake is one I cannot believe they keep making because it is so damn obvious: Technology. We are in the middle of a technological revolution that is rapidly changing our culture, our society, our environment, ourselves, but it’s not like it is the first time in human history this has happened (Guttenberg’s Printing Press? The Industrial Revolution?)

And if you look at our history, who has benefited most from these changes? The Arts. Every time a new technology is introduced, the elders quake in fear, predicting the death of one artistic form or another. Then, the artistic medium, apropos of imminent doom, proves how they underestimated the arts, yet again. We are better at adapting and surviving than given credit for.

Simple logical deduction reveals how our generation is facing an unprecedented and yet-to-be defined set of obstacles appropriate to this world we all share.  Um, is it just me or is this NOT rocket science?

#HeadDesk

It is not going away and is only getting worse. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing such a powerful post. We need more people, more voices making noise in the face of this nonsense. MTVN’s and Reality Show’s depiction of American Youth/Millennials are far from the reality of who we are. Sadly, Kaiser is neither the first, nor the last in a long line of misguided, agist, tired old Pentheites. But keep in mind, they do not win their fight  against Dionysus and the Bacchae. For the same reasons Euripides’ play is still being adapted and staged today, the moral of the story has relevancy thousands of years after it was written. Some folks just never learn. I say, we take THEM to school.

(Does this Kaiser have ANY kids? Seriously, because if not, he’s insulting his own generation more than ours at times. My parents want their money back from all the productions they took us to at The Kennedy Center. That’s 30 years of patronage, times 5 seats per production, adding up to quite a hefty sum.)

THESPIANS: Turn On The Dark

In 21st Century Culture, FOR YOUR CONSIDERSTION, NEW!, NEWS AND COMMENTARY on April 4, 2011 at 7:48 PM

NEW YORK CITY

April 4, 2011

My appeal begins and remains directed towards theatre practitioners in America. I write in defense of innovation. I write in defense of our patrons and our audience. I write in defense of our predecessors and their achievements. I write in defense of our theaters’ future, of our theatre.

In lieu of Julie Taymor’s latest work, the public outcry from the theatre community, on behalf of the actors and performers, is justified. Unions need to adapt in the changing industry. As do the production companies who are financing and supporting the collective of artists involved. However, what lessons are we really learning from these events? Mistakes occur, yes, but how do we identify and understand the lessons involved?

More than anyone, the theatre community must adapt. That point, sadly, has become evident. We possess an awareness, the capacity to change and evolve in ways most people, including fellow theatre artists, have yet to realize.

The outcry over problems surrounding SPIDERMAN: Turn Off The Dark made sense, but only to a certain point and concerning elements usually kept out of the public’s view. (By this, I mean, how often do you have your tech week open to the press and for the public to watch?) What began as legitimate issues turned into a backlash deliberately fueled by news propaganda and gossip. The critical response went beyond reason. And now, under the full weight of its consequence, what has been achieved?

The resulting events will only negate the efforts and abilities for the visionaries capable of adapting and evolving theatre in the 21st Century.

Failure lies not with Julie Taymor, nor with her production, but with each of us who remain silent. I witnessed the very people who employ a skepticism for theatre critics buy into the critical responses written — often more than twice daily in the New York Times, I must add. People who actually went to SEE the production, and who wrote about it, gave an entirely misleading impression of the experience. I can say this confidently now that I have finally seen the show for myself, this past Friday, April 1st.  (I hope to see it again before it closes mid-April for “renovations,” absent the visionary behind the elements that make the show worth the price of admission.) Furthermore, any one interested in effectively implementing multimedia technology with a theatrical design platform? You owe it to yourself to witness this production. Sadly, there are less than 16 performances left.

Yes, I appeal to the theatre community to share accountability for denying Taymor’s production the chance to be realized when it is so close. No one spoke to the reality of the logistical elements necessary for its creation. I ask this question genuinely: Why?

Can we not have consideration for the logical problems it faced? My Goodness, any person who has staged a show, on Broadway or in a community center, at least has an understanding for the way unexpected problems arise. Knowing how the technical elements demanded the complete renovation of the Foxwoods Theater, I cannot fathom the extent of scrutiny over its development issues. Are we not well aware of how many Broadway houses lack the structural and engineering capacity to support a lot of modern technical  designs? Let alone, the unprecedented and awesome concepts apropos of the team of designers working with Taymor for this  production? It had to be built IN-HOUSE. Developing it elsewhere and then, once it had worked thru all the kinks, importing its staging to Broadway was an impassable obstacle. It boggles my mind to think that we expected this show to be farmed and harvested for Broadway the same way GUYS AND DOLLS or BOOK OF MORMON has been.

Have we allowed ourselves to become so blinded by convention and by antiquated traditions that everything making this show a valuable contribution to the theatrical arts has been ignored? Or are we forgetting what got us here in the first place? André Antoine and Alfred Jarry, Adolphe Appia and Gordon Craig, F.T. Marinetti and the Futurists, Tristan Tzara and the DaDaists; Erwin Piscator, Antonin Artaud, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Frederico García Lorca; and the women like Velska Gert, Vesta Tilly, Loïe Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Gertrude Stein; and from them, we have the precedents for Bertolt Brecht, Jerzy Grotowski, Peter  Brook, Samuel Beckett, Pina Bauche, Judith Malina, Merce Cunningham, Peter Schuman, Richard Foreman, Bob Fosse… These are only a few of the names offering a brief glimpse reminding us of what the Editors and Writers for The New York Times either ignorantly or maliciously forget to acknowledge. They do not have to concern themselves about such chicanery because THEY are The New York Times.

Who dares to question them? Who dares to speak up when the Emperor has no clothes?

Strange how meanwhile, The NYT articles will eagerly invoke the names of Chekhov, Ibsen, Shaw, Miller, Williams, etc… We would have none of their preferred, and often referenced, geniuses had it not been for effort and risk.

No one expects our general audience to be well versed in the rich history and precedents from late 19th and 20th century’s theatrical theory and practice. Many, however, possess a solid understanding and wealth of knowledge. Theatre artists know the danger of underestimating their audiences’ intelligence. The news media and press, on the contrary, risk nothing by presuming otherwise and no one holds them accountable. Denying their readers of the relevant information about SPIDERMAN: Turn Off The Dark, and instead, offering selective bits in order to substantiate their critical opinions, to the New York Times, I shout, “CALUMNY!”

Yes, I hold The New York Times accountable for engaging in a pernicious campaign to achieve a biased editorial objective. This has remained evident in the coverage and criticisms of Op/Ed articles published in the print newspaper and online blogs. Furthermore, the cumulative coverage apropos of Taymor and Spiderman, reveals how they dared to presume an ignorance of the readers and theaters’ audience, and did consciously manipulate those who trusted in this  “journalism.”

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