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Stage Matters in Theatre Communications Group Video — But Optics Matter, Too: The Clyde Fitch Report

December 2, 2010

The Brown Tweed Society is pleased to welcome new contributing partner Leonard Jacobs, Editor of The Clyde Fitch Report, who will routinely weigh in with news from the New York theater scene and ongoing arts issues.

Does theater matter? The answers seems a given, no? Of course theater matters. All arts matter. All creativity matters. And, yes, everyone is creative — not just the artist at the cliched canvas, easel or empty space, not just the actor on the stage, but the chef in the kitchen, the designer at the needle, and so on. How sad that such a thing so evident, so elemental, must continually be hammered home.

It’s why the Stage Matters video, created by Theatre Communications Group in collaboration with Firefly Theater & Films, left me with worry as well as admiration. Stage matters. Didn’t we already know that?

Apparently not.

Trouble is, I’m unsure how much more we know about how stage matters from watching the video.

I mean no disrespect to the production team — to the editor (J. Clay Tweel), writer (Steven Klein), producers (Klein, Robert Johnson), associate producer (Natalia Duncan), music composers (Matthew McGaughey, Kyle Johnston) or to the editor (Tova Goodman) — by stating this. Darren Campbell, John Klein, Sergei Krasikau, Talissa Mehringer, Richard Marcus, Joel Sacramento, Mark Thimijan and Christina Voros shot the video beautifully, and I’d guess with challenged resources.

Trouble is, and also meaning no disrespect to TCG, I’m unsure of the message here.

The first part is called Impact”; it shows atypical subjects — author Ray Bradbury; Iraq war veterans; Michelle Hensley, artistic director of Minneapolis’ Ten Thousand Things Theater Company; U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — in a grand extolling of the virtue of the theater, and the couching of those virtues in sweeping terms, making a wide case for a narrow-minded age. The use of veterans is canny and designed to furnish a nonpartisan patina.

Yet it’s the second part of the video, called “Challenges,” where advocacy is most needed and where the message is most muddled.

Read more…

Visit Leonard Jacobs and The Clyde Fitch Report daily for for more posts on arts, theater and politics. Follow the Clyde Fitch Report on Twitter at @clydefitch.

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