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Time to Redefine?

As a Senior Theatre Arts major, I’ve been devoting quite a lot of time to contemplating what I’m doing come graduation. I’ve come up with a handful of dreams that I’d like to pursue, but when looking for where these potential plans fit into the established career modules available in the Theatre, nothing quite matches up. So I begin thinking from the other side of the equation. Where could I fit into the established theatrical modes and be happy? Artistically satisfied? Of course, I won’t know the actual answers to these questions until I’ve tried my hand at various options, but examining it hypothetically, my aspirations don’t fit into the general modes that exist.

So what do I do? Settle for the existing modes that I neither agree with or am interested in, simply because they exist or provide me with a “better” chance of financial stability? Create my own model and hope it works out?

Adam Burnett and Jud Knudsen, artistic directors of the Buran Theatre Company, wrote an article on Howlround, titled “The Phantom Seats of Philanthropy” that is helping lead me somewhere.

As the duo lays out in the article, the Theatrical System in the United States is flawed, as many of our systems appear to be these days. While this claim has been made often and across much of the country, rarely have I seen it coupled with any semblance of a solution. Adam and Jud are not entirely specific with the “how” of the solution to our corrupt and misguided system, but who can expect them to be? If the solution was obvious, it would be implemented. I propose (for myself as well as anyone who’s interested) an exploration into alternative methods of artistic creation. Not by hypothesizing, philosophizing, or dictating an answer, but through action. I propose implementing a laboratory approach beyond our work on projects and performances, and extending it to the artists’ work in an all-encompassing manner.

At Boston University, students are encouraged to explore and explode their work with a scientific mindset. In this I mean that we are taught not to be afraid of failure in our work, but to use it as a tool for further development and creation. Our failures are our teachers. I chose to pursue theatre because it is my passion. I want my work to be interwoven in all aspects of my life. If I am not afraid to fail in my work, why should I be afraid to fail in the other aspects of my life?

“What does this theater look like?

It’s not pretty. It’s not polished.

We have been bamboozled to believe that art is supposed to be clean.

But it shouldn’t! There should be piss on the floor and tomatoes in the air.”

This statement, made by Adam and Jud in their article, deeply appeals to the artist in me. However, with regards to my logical and society-bred mind, this statement sets off sirens. I’ve been taught that success is equivalent to money. Even if that phrase has never been said to me word for word, and I don’t think it has, it is ingrained in our culture.

I don’t know exactly what this means for me to do, but I think that may be the point. Just because other theatrical models aren’t popular or existent does not mean they are impossible. It is time to redefine theatrical success and recreate theatrical models. We will not succeed in every attempt. We may not even succeed in the majority of our attempts, but every failure is a teacher. We will discover dozens of models that won’t work, and each will bring us closer to one that does. In both failure and success, we must discover through action.

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About atweyenberg

Senior Theatre Arts major at Boston Univerity, currently enrolled in a Dramaturgy course! Excited about cross-sector work and community involvement.

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