Edward Sampson and I had a theatre company called Stark/Raving Theatre. Our working motto:
Ululatus magna elit. Sinit experiri.
That sounds like a terrible idea. Let’s try it.
- We never really said it in Latin. I just looked that up. But we did say it in English, and we found that promptly putting an idea up was effective and efficient.
The words we use don’t always convey our ideas.
Bad ideas can turn into good ideas.
Trying out bad ideas helps bad ideas go away.
Something catches fire.
Debs Rohrbach worked at On the Boards in the late 80’s, running things backstage. Debs had seen it all. One day during tech with a young performance art group, they told her that, more than being just good, they wanted to be unique.
Debs: Honey, Good is unique enough. (That’s the Latin title up top).
Thank you Debs Rohrbach. How true. So, what is good?
You are. No, really.
If you are working on something that only you could be doing, right now, in a way that only you could do it, then you are doing art. Art is good.
It may not be palatable yet. It might not have come together yet. People might not get it yet. But, I’m calling it art.
Q: But is it bad art?
A: That particular iteration? What you just did? Yes. That was bad art.
There’s the rub. But we get notes. We make changes. We take what works. We try it again.
Eventually we stop noticing how bad our art is, and then stop caring, and we just do what we do, the way we do it. And take notes, and reiterate.
Here’s a not-so-unique exercise. Wash the dishes.
Think about how you wash dishes, Perform that in front of a group. You washing the dishes.
(Sounds boring, but it’s not, unless you get totally blocked. But even that’s kind of interesting to watch. And if your really fall apart, you do a great service to someone watching, who realizes, “I could do better than that” and volunteers. Your implosion has inspired someone go for it. And whatever you do next time up will be a great relief to everyone.)
No one does the dishes like you.
Do you leave the water running between dishes when you rinse? Do you use a rinse tub? Do you allow coffee to stain the inside of cups? Or rub them out, daily? Do you scrape before soaking? How thoroughly? What’s your technique with a cast iron skillet? What’s your take on Brillo pads? Do you use the same sponge for counters and dishes? How’s your posture? Do you watch the neighbors?
What’s on your mind? A petty betrayal? Debt? Thoughts of expanding your germ circle? A sore knee? A genital itch?
Now, Stand there and play all the parts; give a platform to all the voices that live within you. Let them out. Does having these voices mean you are crazy? Yes, I think so. Lets hear them.
Because this is also true: Unique is good enough.
Matt Smith’s Solo Performance class begins Monday, July 13 at 6pm. Description, full schedule and registration here.