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Welcome new vistors and thank you for returning dedicated fans. For more information about me please dig into my "About me section" or look at my G+. This was my first blog. I have rebuilt and specialized since this blog's inception. It now serves as a "hub" for the three blogs I write. Below this banner is "Welcome to the Club" which is my comics blog, "The Silver Screen" which is my Cinema blog, and "All the World's a Stage" which is my theatre blog. Read at your leisure!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

24 Hour Creation Reflection

This is probably only relavent to people in or involved with the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. You have been warned.

This past weekend I participated in an event called "24 hour Creations" the concept is very similar to the 24 Hour film festivals or 24 hour theatre festivals. Basically within one day a play or dance piece was written (choreographed), directed, cast and then performed all within one day. This event was put on by the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance Peers. This event was meant to accomplish several things; I will list some of the goals of this project and then discuss what worked and what didn't and go into why things didn't work.

Goals of 24 Hour Creations

  • Have the different disciplines of the department come together and break down some of the walls we have build between the BFA  and BA theater majors and the Dance department. 
  • Allow for a creative space where people not trained in a specific aspect of performance have a  low stakes environment to try something new. Dancer become playwright. Actors become dancers. Directors try acting... etc. 
  • Give an opportunity for freshman and people new to the department a chance to workshop with people in their department and make some new connections or friendships. 
  • Give a place for performance focused students a chance to perform. 

Now that I have laid out my understanding of the goals of this project I will dig into each goal and see if these goals were achieved and if they weren't give some opinions of why they weren't achieved. I am not writing this to be the authoritative voice on the matter nor do I hold that my opinion is the correct one. This is just me sharing my perspective and hopefully the first step of a longer conversation within the department. At Frameworks this fall Will Daddario talked about the concept of dissensus. The need for students in the department frustrated with aspects of the department to come together and share their opinions of why things are the way they are and discuss their opinions on how things can change. This is my attempt at starting a conversation in that vein. 

  • Bringing the overall community of the theatre department together. I think this goal was achieved as much as it could be. In my piece specifically we had two BFA freshman a BA sophomore and a BA senior. Before I started collaborating with them I had never seen any of them. It was challenging and interesting to be in a position where I had to create a piece of theatre with three other people who didn't have the same background or vocabulary I did. I  found I had to find more precise ways to communicate what I was thinking which forced me to think about my choices more. 
    • The place where this goal wasn't as successful was not all of the three groups had equal representation. We had one group of dance major who came in  and performed an awesome piece and a few scatterings of BFA's (I don't know everyone nor did I meet everyone), but my perception of the event leads me to think that vast majority of the participants were BA theatre majors. There might be some value in going to the BFA and the Dance departments and asking what is was about the event that disinhibited them from participating: the way it was presented, communicated, or framed. What made it harder for them to get excited about this event? This can inform how we frame the piece of theater in the future and therefore succeed in this goal even more. 

  •  This next point I would say falls more on the individual more than the Peers/ organizers of the event. The peers provide all the tools possible to allow anyone to do anything they wanted. The initiative was placed on the individual to force themselves to try something out of their comfort zone. We live in a very competitive industry and college is one of the last opportunities you might have where you can try something new and fail and have it not effect anything. The show was the perfect opportunity to fail brilliantly. Sitting in the audience and watching all of the pieces informed my work as an artist tremendously. When there were parts of pieces I didn't like whether it was acting, directing, dancing or writing I still learned. Watching people try something and fail is tremendously more informative that sitting in a class and talking about things in hypotheticals or conceptually. When something didn't work I was able to stop and think: "Why didn't this choice work for me?" and then later when I try something I have learned that lesson and I don't make the same  mistake. 
    • The major failure in this section was the lack of respect for the people who tried writing. It was really unfair to have someone commit to a stressful evening of work, birth something from their soul and then not even give it the opportunity to fail onstage. If you are going commit to something commit to it. Signing up and then not showing up doesn't just reflect badly on you, it disrespects a writer who put a lot of time and effort into a script. I am very interested in writing plays. I chose not to write a piece because I was afraid I was going to put all this time and effort into the project and then not even see my baby birthed. My fears were right as two plays did not get performed.

  • Freshman. I think this was the perfect setting to give the freshman an opportunity a chance to meet people in the department and create something. The freshman seem very represented and hopefully a lot of their friends came and saw how cool this event was and will want to do it in the spring (If that happens...). 

  • An opportunity to perform. Most of this is a BA issue and a BA perspective.  This is my last point and it will probably be my harshest criticism. I have a lot of peers in the department who are frustrated by the lack of opportunity to perform this year. Last year there was the student-run organization, The Experimental Theatre, where students who didn't make it into the main stage shows had an opportunity to perform and grow their craft. It must be frustrating as hell for the peers and department administration to hear this complaining about the lack of opportunity in the department and then offer an event that has the lowest stakes possible and the smallest time commitment possible and then have not a lot of people show up. If you want to communicate to the department that there needs to be more chances to perform, then having a massive turnout for this event would be a real way to prove there is real passion behind that. Why would the department spend time, effort and money into making more opportunities if people aren't going to be grateful and passionate about the chances they do get? 

This leads me to my last point. An event like 24 Hour Creations is the most bottom-up control over our education we have. The onus lies completely on us to make this event a success or a failure. I asked several people last week if they were going to do 24-hour Creations and most people said, "No, it sounds like its going to be kind of lame." By approaching it with that mentality that guarantees that result. If everyone was excited about it and appreciated it for the value it provides then the event will be a success. When something is challenging, different, or weird it is easy to just passively say this is dumb and give up before trying. We are active agents in our own education, and we must try that much harder to work past our reservations.

Overall I think the event was a tremendous success. I learned a lot, both from the piece I was in and watching the other pieces performed. I hope that enough people had similar positive experiences (whether audience members or participants) that next time we do the event even more people participate and we all have even a better experience. I invite criticism to my criticism. I want an open dialogue started so we can talk about what worked and what didn't therefore it is that much of a better experience next time. 

Peace Will

PS.  Come see Courting Harry Saturday please. It is an amazing play and incredible relevant to the conversation about woman's reproductive rights in this country. Also I am in it. We perform this Saturday at 2PM in the Thrust in Rarig (Oct. 13).

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