Well-made play structure dissected

An insightful long read from maker and critic Maddy Costa, into what many theatre makers think about the “well made” play structure today taking into accounts ideas about what makes that traditional concept (although I find it interesting no one mentioned Artistotle’s Poetics) and how other play forms and collaboration forms work.

It also recalls the podcast between David Eldridge and Chris Goode and the series of blog they had going over 10 years ago, where Chris makes work typically not from a writer-centric view.

https://www.thendobetter.com/arts/2018/6/23/david-eldridge-chris-goode-in-conversation

“...I spoke to 12 people working in theatre today, as playwrights, directors, dramaturgs, critics and producers, and put the question to them. Fascinatingly, the answers reveal that while the phrase connotes one thing, culturally and critically, for many theatre-makers it potentially means something quite different.



First, the connotations. Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the Royal Court, declares the well-made play a relic of the past: “a very particular form of storytelling that no new play subscribes to now at all”. In describing that form, she thinks of Ibsen and Chekhov, “protracted narrative development” and “a maid coming on for two scenes”. What we have now is “the grandchild of the well-made play: conventional narrative drama where we tell a story from A to B, where we meet the characters and follow their story, which we have empathy for”....”

More here: https://www.writeaplay.co.uk/the-well-made-play-and-the-play-made-well-by-maddy-costa/

The Egg that broke Instagram

Meet the Creator of the Egg That Broke Instagram | He works in advertising | NYT

“When Chris Godfrey learned in early January that the record for “likes” on an Instagram post was held by the celebrity and businesswoman Kylie Jenner, he took it as a challenge. He remembers thinking: “Could something as universal and simple as an egg be great enough to beat that record?”

It could! Just nine days after the thought, that record was cracked. Mr. Godfrey had beaten Ms. Jenner’s post about her infant daughter with a simple picture of an egg. The original egg post now has more than 52 million likes — her post is shy of 19 million — and the egg’s account now has more than 10 million followers.

 Why an egg? Mr. Godfrey explained: “An egg has no gender, race or religion. An egg is an egg, it’s universal.”….

Me: Pretty quirky, fairly funny and (who can tell with advert people??) Godfrey seems genuinely nice and positive… “Mr. Godfrey...says less interested in money than in promoting positivity.” Interesting that much of the interest seemed to grow from young teens or younger.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/03/style/world-record-egg-instagram.html


Digital Artwork Competition | £20,000

Sheffield Doc/Fest is delighted to announce a £20,000 opportunity for an artist to create an imaginative digital artwork.


£20,000 for an artist(s) based anywhere in the world to create an imaginative digital project in documentary to be installed and exhibited in the Alternate Realities exhibition programme as part of Sheffield Doc/Fest’s 26th edition later this year: 6th – 11th June 2019. Additionally MUTEK will be inviting the successful commission winner to their 20th edition in Montreal (20-25 August, 2019) to speak about the work and then tour their project to MUTEK Montreal in 2020.  Deadline 26 Feb.

Me: Focus is broadly on non-fiction storytelling but can include on-going projects. Track record is a factor.

https://sheffdocfest.com/articles/675-alternate-realities-commission-now-open


Radio Drama Fund | Audible $5m

Funding for radio drama

Audible has announced the establishment of fund up to $5 million ("Theater Fund") dedicated to the commission and development of innovative English-language works from playwrights around the globe. The fund will support the creation of one- and two-person audio plays driven by language and voice, in keeping with Audible’s core commitment to elevating listening experiences through powerful performances of brilliantly composed words.

Me: I think radio drama can be a very powerful form. (I have 2 radio plays which went on BBC Radio, BBC World Service). Radio drama output is down over the last few years (as BBC was the main funder) although podcasts are up, I think this project could yield some interesting work for audible. There’s some intereting work potentially coming out.

Plus, writers, it’s another possible gig!

https://www.audible.com/ep/audible-theater


Creativity: be a slow-motion multi-tasker

Tim Harford: “"Different researchers, using different methods to study different highly creative people have found that very often they have multiple projects in progress at the same time, and they're also far more likely than most of us to have serious hobbies. Slow-motion multitasking among creative people is ubiquitous."


“...Slow-motion multitasking feels like a counterintuitive idea. What I'm describing here is having multiple projects on the go at the same time, and you move backwards and forwards between topics as the mood takes you, or as the situation demands. But the reason it seems counterintuitive is because we're used to lapsing into multitasking out of desperation. We're in a hurry, we want to do everything at once. If we were willing to slow multitasking down, we might find that it works quite brilliantly.”


Harford has a new Ted Talk address creativity. Harford’s recent FT article has already persuaded me to delete a few social media apps and partially take back control.


His arguments on creativity I find persuasive - because I essentially practise what he advises. I have multiple projects slowly on the go (short summary on 2019 in below picture) and they range across arts, investing and connecting. I have serious hobbies as well.


It is not multi-tasking in the sense of trying to - in the moment - do more than one thing, but it is switching between many projects over time. It also ties into my thoughts on breaking or working across silos of expertise.


Transcripts here:

https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_harford_a_powerful_way_to_unleash_your_natural_creativity/transcript?language=en


He also references Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I have blogged about him before when speaking about Flow (and why you should turn email off and not check email so much as it breaks flow.


My blog on email management and why it’s important not to break Flow.

https://www.thendobetter.com/investing/2017/10/25/organising-email-my-system


Why breaking silos is a good idea

https://www.thendobetter.com/investing/2018/8/1/breaking-silos


References:

Three examples of this research. First: Howard Gruber and Sara Davis emphasize how often highly creative artists and scientists maintain a "network of enterprises" -- different projects at different stages of maturity. Their examples include the novelist Dorothy Richardson and the scientist Charles Darwin.

Howard E. Gruber and Sara N. Davis. "Inching Our Way Up Mount Olympus: The Evolving-Systems Approach to Creative Thinking". The Nature of Creativity, 1995

R. Keith Sawyer. Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation, pp. 75-76 and 376, 2012

Second: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his research assistants interviewed around a hundred highly creative people, including astronomer Vera Rubin, jazz legend Oscar Peterson and the activist and Nobel laureate for Literature, Nadine Gordimer. Among many tendencies discussed is the habit of keeping multiple projects going on simultaneously, letting some simmer on the back burner while others take priority. One of Csikszentmihalyi's research assistants, Keith Sawyer -- now a respected creativity researcher in his own right -- drew this to my attention.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, 2013

Third: Leading scientists are vastly more likely to have serious hobbies.

Root-Bernstein, R., Allen, L., et al. "Arts foster scientific success: Avocations of Nobel, National Academy, Royal Society, and Sigma Xi members". Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology, 2008


Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag | Shalamov

The Paris Review | Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag. Varlam Shalamov claimed not to have learned anything from the Gulag except how to wheel a loaded barrow. But one of his fragmentary writings, dated 1961, tells us more.

Me: Very sobering reading.

1. The extreme fragility of human culture, civilization. A man becomes a beast in three weeks, given heavy labor, cold, hunger, and beatings.

2. The main means for depraving the soul is the cold. Presumably in Central Asian camps people held out longer, for it was warmer there.

3. I realized that friendship, comradeship, would never arise in really difficult, life-threatening conditions. Friendship arises in difficult but bearable conditions (in the hospital, but not at the pit face).

4. I realized that the feeling a man preserves longest is anger. There is only enough flesh on a hungry man for anger: everything else leaves him indifferent….

…15. I realized that one can live on anger.

16. I realized that one can live on indifference.

17. I understood why people do not live on hope—there isn’t any hope. Nor can they survive by means of free will—what free will is there? They live by instinct, a feeling of self-preservation, on the same basis as a tree, a stone, an animal….

More here.


Sandberg on grief and gratitude. Me on Love and turning 40.

My Play Yellow Gentlemen

Oprah on Gratitude

The current Arts blog, cross-over, the current Investing blog.  Cross fertilise, some thoughts on autism.  Discover what the arts/business mingle… (sign up for invites to the next event in the list below).

My Op-Ed in the Financial Times  (My Financial Times opinion article) about asking long-term questions surrounding sustainability and ESG.

Current highlights:

A thought on how to die well and Mortality

Some writing tips and thoughts from Zadie Smith

How to live a life, well lived. Thoughts from a dying man. On play and playing games.

A provoking read on how to raise a feminist child.

Some popular posts:  the commencement address;  by NassimTaleb (Black Swan author, risk management philosopher),  Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes;  JK Rowling on the benefits of failure.  Charlie Munger on always inverting;  Sheryl Sandberg on grief, resilience and gratitude.

Buy my play, Yellow Gentlemen, (amazon link) - all profits to charity