The Art in the Art

              There is a saying around the theatre community that states, “the show must go on.” This maxim has duplicity regarding application to entertainments. Not only does it speak to the avalanche of the production process and the inevitability of opening night, but also the phrase applies to the very nature of entertainment. There is a reason that the performing arts are called show business. Their audience is there for entertainment. The more self-important a production becomes, the less likely it is to draw an audience. In short, part of the job of creators is to give the audience what they want – not necessarily how they expect it. But if you are not putting out a product that has aspects of engaging the audience, beyond the cerebral message you are attempting to convey, then you are producing a list of beliefs, not an art. Artists can have a manifesto, but the manifesto is not the art.

              Productions do not have to be littered with gags, skin, and light topic shows – devoid of message. But neglecting the show aspect deprives your audience of a vital component of entertainment. That is what makes performance an art form. Anyone can create a work that talks to the audience, directly or indirectly, but the art lies in finessing this message into a spectacle. There can be focused moments – heavy-handed storytelling – this not a total admonishment of that, but you must not forget to entertain. That is the truth of this art form; we are not meant to sermonize the audience. We can moralize. But we cannot abandon the audience’s wants, or the audience will abandon the production.

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