Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Shouting "Movie!" in a Firehouse

Dada is orchestrated chaos.

Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

In 1916, Dada was created by a group of ex-patriates who found themselves in Zurich full of outrage over World War I.

Some members of the original group saw art's potential as an instrument for political change. Others just rejected the "rationality" of the world, arguing for absurdist or primitive approaches to what was traditionally defined as art. Content was less important than audience reaction. They sought to break down the barriers between forms, mixing and matching them in new, unexpected and sometimes shocking ways.

They were certainly able to do that at that time. People weren't staying at home zoning out to American Idol. They sought art and entertainment. They had their expectations of what to regard as art or entertainment in galleries and cabarets. Dada threw everything the audience knew out the window and, sometimes, the audience themselves.

How can you have this sort of effect in this day and age? People have more control over their entertainment than ever before. They can preview it, buy it, carry it with them, Tivo it, rent it, stop it or start it at will, see it whenever they like wherever they like.

It's hard enough to get someone to choose theater over other easier-to-control mediums. There's no pause button and, oftentimes, if you don't like what you see on stage, it's difficult to impossible to leave. If you're bored, you suffer. So, how do you get someone to come see Dada? They won't be bored, but it's unlikely they'll have the same whack-to-the-side-of-the-head experience audiences had almost 100 years ago. Or even that they are looking for such a thing.

The artists, though, are coming from a near identical place as the founders.

Outrage at war. - CHECK!

Rejection of popular art. - CHECK!

While Dada is certainly good for creativity, what's in it for the audience? Were there Dada fans in 1916? Were the artists just performing for one another? What the hell good is Dada any way? Then or now?

The people most likely to come to our show know what they are getting into. They've seen Dada before or they know enough to be curious. They aren't coming expecting to see anything familiar or safe. For people who who keep a steady flow of money going through the pockets of the producers of Tony and Tina's Wedding or Wicked, I have no doubt that Soiree Dada: Blinde Essel Hopse will be an invigorating experience. But why would they bother to come? What value would they see in it for themselves?

It's a good question to ask and it's okay to not have an answer.

Dada is a question. Dada was never an answer.


Yesterday, I asked...

"Louisiana State University researchers have discovered that a common cold virus also promotes what?"

50% answered "Baldness"
- No. Although it would explain why I always have the sniffles and leave a trail of hair.

12% picked "Rickets"
- No. I just like the word. Say it with me, slowly, "r-i-c-k-e-t-s." Fun, yes?

Nobody answered the virus promotes "New Prince CDs"
- If it were possible, he would. Until then, no.

38% got it right with "Obesity"

According to an AFP news report, a common virus that causes colds can be a factor in obesity. What's that saying? "Feed a cold, starve a fever?" Apparently, this virus feeds the cold Krispy Kreme doughnuts.