I create in the digital workplace and so I use a lot of social platforms, yada yada, and I’ve noticed there seems to be this race to get the newest, the most viral, the most influential tool possible so ‘I can have a lot of friends and have a great Klout score and show all of this off to everyone in the whole wide world!’ Indeed, there has crept into everyday conversation a sort of sick measurement stick that I am not at all down with.
In fact, I’m writing a Transmedia Code of Ethics for myself and those I collaborate with because as I begin to work on larger Transmedia projects, I am realizing how idealist I really am. I keep wanting my experience with people to be like it was when I worked in the theatre, where we all sat around a table, read a script, and began to craft and shape the vision of the playwright. We would move from the table to the stage, incessantly talking to one another, from lighting to props, sound designer to actor, director to stage manager, and then, finally, all of us collectively to the audience. Then people clapped and gave us money.
What I love best about the theatre was our absolute dependency on each other. If I did not put a certain prop at the right time in the right actor’s hand, and the lighting cue was missed, the show would fall apart. At every moment, the show depended upon, was entirely reliant upon, all of us as a moving entity, working seamlessly in the dark with watchful eyes.
What came after opening night was an euphoria that only this kind of intense collaboration can bring. The pranks offstage to mess with the actors (I was never guilty of this of course), shenanigans’ of the actors purposely missing lines, booze smuggled backstage, last-minute frenzy of costume changes, and then the moment when the lights come on and you realize you made it through! Followed by the stern reality of the Director’s ‘notes’. But woven into the experience was always this sense of family, because we needed one another in order to get to the vision of the storyworld we’d created.
This is what I’m trying to create and this is what I’m up against: people talking about themselves versus the art, people preening about their ‘followers’, people eyeing your client list like hyenas, people wanting to use you to line their own back pockets. It’s disheartening. Actually, its total bullshit.
I think this is the ugly side of digital. This incessant desire to blow up personal brands like great ego-driven helium balloons that hover and vie for attention, crowding out the notion of creativity and collaboration and shared vision. I wonder, is it possible to get back to that table of theatre, where I can sit around with a group of talented people, and feel like family? Trusting implicitly that it is the art, not the commerce, not our personal brands, not our number of followers or likes, not our goddamn personal agendas, but rather, the exhilaration and devotion to the craft that is at stake? That together we are only able to create this art and must depend on trust to reach that place.
Is it too utopian? Too naive? Perhaps. Perhaps.
But I believe, as John Keats famously wrote that ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’. I won’t settle for less.