CMU School of Drama

Friday, January 13, 2017

Market Rules: How We’ve All Been Reduced to Salespeople

AMERICAN THEATRE: Good afternoon. It’s good to be with you today. I want to thank the planning committee for the invitation to address you all.

When I was first approached about offering these introductory remarks, I inquired about the committee’s hope for what I might say. Something uplifting, they responded, something about art’s potential to change the world. Right. I wasn’t sure, I told them, that I really could do that. I toyed with offering my apologies, politely declining. I couldn’t see how to be uplifting and, at the same time, force the conversation I thought needed to be had. I said as such.

They responded: By all means, speak your mind.

And I thought: …okay.


Helena Hewitt said...

Over the past year or so I have become aware of how often, as a young adult, I feel as though I am selling a version of myself to the person I am interacting with. The Helena™ that I present in classrooms, at parties, and on dating apps consists of heightened versions of essential qualities that make up me as a person, but they do give the whole picture. That are very few situations where I feel like I can be completely genuine. But it is in this moments that people can see all of me and understand all the qualities I present to the world for what they truly are. This is similar in a way to what I believe Akhtar is saying about the art of theatre. There may be a certain quality you wish to portray onstage, however if that one quality is what you are pushing instead of a genuine exploration of a story on some level the effort will feel constructed or false. This reminds me of those plays that feel like they are political just for the sake of being political (because producers know that is the kind of “art” people who attend the theatre want to see nowadays) rather than diving deep and exploring into a story with no ulterior motive that just happens to have significant political and social resonance.

Nick Waddington said...

One of the most rampant issues of the 21st century, in my opinion, is the commercialization of some of the purest aspects of life including theater, nature, and basic interaction. We are so often told that we have to be better than we are so that we can sell ourselves to the world, and I feel like that on a daily basis. This is where we must determine what the purpose of our art is. Is the purpose to become famous, or make money? Or are we in this profession because it is something that we love and want to share with the world? at the end of the article Akhtar asks us to ponder whether we are willing to accept the world we have created, or whether we should try to do something about it. I think many shows are currently being written as controversial for the sake of being controversial, because that is what sells now. And this leads to us forgetting why we really got into art; to share alternate worlds and realities with people, and we hope, provoke meaningful thought in as many people as we can.