What Artists do for Artists (4)

Yesterday I talked about the nuances of being an artist who’s a fan of another artist — how far that can go. Today I’ll draw you into the next step: How the artist gets to know fans.
How does an artist get to know other fans? Start small.  Share some of your work freely (a story, a poem, an article, a good quality photo, comic, or painting. Are you willing to give one away?
I do. I write in many formats, draw, produce performances, and record music and give about 5% of my fiction and poetry away. For my fans, there would still be plenty more works to share, and sell. I still hold the copyright. Sharing some work is a low-res way for people to get to know it and see if it fits them.
And the best part? Because I retain the rights to the stories, I’m not prevented from one day publishing a book of all the stories. And it’s the case. Your true fans would pay for a book of your stories, or a free song on iTunes. Say you craft a series of pillows out  of Mexican wool with a half-drop abstract Quetzalcoatl pattern on them. What if gave a video tour of your film studio in a re-purposed silks factory? What if you were a painter, and gave a free podcast about your working methods; how you alternate your medium between encaustic and tempera for every painting because it keeps you shook up and fresh?
This is human nature. A beautiful book, that people can hold, filled with the work of an artist that reaches them. A wonderful song that people can dream to. A print (or an original) of your painting in their home, or publicly displayed. It just makes sense and it’s inevitable that you want to share your work.
Taking this to the next step. If you “know” tens of people, or hundreds, or thousands, or find a way for tens of thousands, or more , then you needed to find the way to communicate who you are to a wide audience first.
So it’s always just people who know you, interacting with your work. They start as drive-bys. They could turn into witnesses, and then turn into fans. 
Next week, I’ll put out a series on how you can reach your fans.

What Artists do for Artists (3)

Yesterday I mentioned what being a fan of yours means to me economically, and morally. Today I’ll take that ability to contribute to the extreme!
At the furthest end of fandom, I might have put together a project to produce your work. For me, it’s just been a hundred artists (give or take) I’ve done that with. Some people can do a lot more than I can.
But with a production, I’m now working to make even more people know your work than I’d be able to do just by sharing your project Facebook page, or re-tweeting you.
Producing your work is an extreme level of commitment added to being your fan.
Don’t forget it also means I am still doing the other things — buying your work, talking about your work.
If I produced you, know that even long afterwards, I go to Amazon or to the Bookshop, and buy your latest script; I pick up your prints; I re-tweet you, and Like your pages on Facebook.
Sort of like stalking you, but the way fans do — “stalking” your work.
I’ll talk a little more about the other echoes of what being a fan means tomorrow.

What Artists do for Artists (2)

Yesterday I mentioned that if I know you, and if you have work for sale, I’m likely to want to  buy it.  Because I know you, and your work is part of you, and I want to know it.
And as your fan, only circumstances constrain my spending limit.
If my circumstances are great, I might spend $100 on your print, your ticket, your limited edition. It might be because I have money all the time, or just temporary good fortune.
Or, if money is tight, I might buy your mass-published work for $20, or see your show for $25. If it normally costs more, I might have to opt out, or to wait for a discount.
But if I know you, I want to know your work.
In some cases that’s led to my becoming a super-fan, a fan who’s so avid, I’m almost “rabid.” As a super-fan, I tell everyone about your work, because I think if they know you, they’ll know what I know, from knowing you.
Tomorrow I’ll explore the limits of what I would give when I’m a truly avid fan.

What Artists do for Artists (1)

Here’s something I wish more artists would say to each other. Many do. But many do not.

“Since I know you, if your work isn’t published, send me two, and I’ll fully expose myself to your work, and we are now in touch.

If they are published, I’ll buy two.”

If I know you, I generally buy your work if it’s being sold, because I know you.
It’s not just artist financially or morally supporting artist. It doesn’t matter if our politics coincide or even if I feel a natural inclination to your work. It’s communicating. It’s being open, exposed to eyes and voices.
There’s more to this thought. Tomorrow.

First progress report on Sanctuary: NextStage

Hope you’re as excited as we are about where this is headed. Following please find an update on our progress building Sanctuary: NextStage.

  • The website is up. Visit it at http://www.sanctuarytheatre.org. Click the link for NextStage to have a look. There you’ll find the Six Tenets, the Vision Plan, info about the planned space we’re securing and renovating, etc.
  • Funding has started. We have obtained the initial $3,500.00 of seed funding needed, and are now actively working to raise the rest of what’s needed to secure and renovate the space, operate the company, and manage its world-class training program, and pay for development of our first new project. On the Sanctuary site, you’ll find a Help Make it Real! link for donors. Spread the word, if you care to.
  • Please refer us to potential donors. And if you know a potential large donor who loves cutting edge theatre, please don’t hesitate to introduce us. We can offer them the usual tax deduction and other niceties, as well as our undying affection.
    We’re close to a hiring decision for a Master Trainer. She will design the training program, making sure it properly integrates all the different disciplines. We’ll send out an announcement when that happens, later this month.
  • Please refer us to actors: We plan to announce the initial round of actors for the program near the end of January, and the search is still actively on. We are deliberately creating the company without running a cattle call ad in BackStage! So, if you know any actors of the highest calibre, who might be interested in the program, please feel free to refer them by emailing them about the program (including a link to the site) and CC me at bobjudeferrante@gmail.com; this way we get introduced.
  • If you see work in NYC that inspires you, please let us know about it. We’re always learning (and have a lot to learn).

Hope your lives are filled with joy.

the critics… new philosophy… hope…

We got widely varied critical response to A NEW THEORY OF VISION; the first critic gave us an unabashed rave and said, there’s all this philosophical background in the play, perhaps a bit too much, but since it does reflect on the action, you have to sort of let it wash over you and then it all makes sense, even if you’re not a philogeek. Another, our only pan, said, there’s all this character and plot stuff but not enough of the actual philosophy these guys are talking about. Finally, there was a balanced review that complained s/he wanted to hear the philosophy too. So that’s two critics who complained they wanted to have the philosophical content of Lee’s books spelt out.

Well, I’m not adding these explicitly to the play. It feels talky enough in the parts where it talks about the de minima aspects of Berkeley’s philosophy that directly impact the play (a total of 2 minutes of stage time, max, and even though these support the action moment to moment, some might feel even these to be part of an extra credit assignment).

So perhaps we need to prepare a companion to the play that explicates the exact philosophies about which Lee wrote in his two books? Now, it must be said the philosophy is actually at the heart of the play’s action. Thus if you observe the play’s action, you can deduce all the philosophy you need, right there in front of you. This is perhaps an arrogant statement. Because if the smart people who write our theatre criticism can’t pick this stuff up from the action of the play, how can we simpler minded people?

(There’s an implicit criticism of criticism building here, I can feel it… but I won’t spoil the ending of this essay by stating it there, so let’s briefly state it here. Critics often take upon themselves the “duty” to “represent” the audience, but they often use a simplified model of who the audience is, and judge a work by how “clear” it is to that simple-minded artificial audience model. But it’s self-deception. Audiences are far smarter than critics think they are, and sometimes, far smarter than the critics themselves.)

So. A warning. If you proceed there will be spoilers. And thanks for sticking with this, thus far.

Lee’s first book, A New Theory of Vision was essentially a simplification and popularization of the works of Berkeley and the idealists, updated for a more telepresent world such as existed in the late 1980s, when his book would have come out. The parts of the materialist/idealist philosophy that would have made the most stir in the popular mind – the book was, after all, a massive best-seller – would have been those that talked about the increasing virtualization of who we were. Extended we were, as McLuhan would have said, by our creations – the telephone, television, and the PC network – we learned to project and virtualize our identities to match their representations over the various wire protocols of these extensions.

So we would have first developed a “voice or sound-heavy” set of identity contexts to serve as representations of ourselves over the telephone (which is a two-way medium – one-to-one) and for radio (which is a broadcast medium – one to many); a visual-and-sound set of identity contexts to represent us over the airwaves. These would eventually evolve to no longer being literal attempts to represent us. They would begin that way. But identity as communicated and compressed over these media would become first shadow representations of our selves, then gradually the representations would diverge as we accommodated ourselves to the medium, until eventually we had created at least one, perhaps many separate representations of ourselves to adapt to each medium.

Shadow identities, each containing part of our own experience and the contexts made real and appropriate for each medium and tuned to the audience each medium brought. So to each person with whom you conversed on the telephone, you created a different identity. It began as a set of sounds that resembled your voice, but gradually it evolved to become a new voice. Likewise, on TV or the radio, you created new visual and audio aspects of yourself.

Note in the play how the characters identities are somewhat malleable. Not in a MAN = MAN way (cf. Brecht) but rather in a postmodern way – their decisions and actions and the “selves” we see of them are adapted to the medium in which they present these selves. These represent the world as Lee saw it in his best-selling book.

Lee’s new book, also probably destined to be a best-seller, The Book of Reality, takes this much further, in fact all the way into the world Erich inhabits. On the path to writing the book based on Erich’s online world, Lee is in fact creating signifiers that led him inexorably to the realizations he has at the end of the original act-break, where his mind begins to loop in on itself – when both he and we – SEE and HEAR his self-perceived crime, that he didn’t prevent a suicidal person, whom he loved very much, from committing suicide. The realization he makes – and which is wrong – is that the self is actually an illusion. That there is no contiguous set of ideas upon which any person is based. That we are chaotic stews of ideas constantly attempting to summarize and interpret and re-spew endless chaotic casseroles of matter and energy that surround us, and of which we are also constructed.

This can lead to a depairing, nihilist worldview which in fact represents exactly Jane’s. We would then all want to kill ourselves, since what’s the point of existence if you’re a temporary process that observes temporary processes, and even your observations themselves are captured in a boiling cauldron of sense information which in itself is destined to change and be corrupted by chaos?

But the other assertion The Book of Reality makes is there are constancies. That the only constants are the links between us. Two hands clasping each other. Words of comfort, and care. We are the forces, amidst the stew and spew, that wrenches the world back from chaos. We create the illusion of order, and it is in fact the illusion of order that is the fact of order. In a world where all is illusion, illusion is therefore fact. That it all is some sort of miracle worth experiencing is the main of it.

Videos of Sweet Cantatas now up on YouTube

These are from the Sunday 2PM matinee on the last day of performance. The performances are mostly solid (though there’s some “rule-breaking” on the Mot Juste piece – an actress making extra sounds). The usual caveats about video’d live performance – though I boosted the sound, it’s slightly blurry at points. And the video can get blocky or fuzzy.

But it’s cool nonetheless. Have a look!