The thought occur to me recently, as I am a theatre person by degree and profession, I have not posted much on the subject of live theatre. I wanted to share with you who I believe to be the most insightful and brutally honest writer on the subject of modern theatre and film - David Mamet. He has written for the stage (notable plays: Speed-the-plow, Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo), for film (notable screenplays: Glengarry Glen Ross, The Untouchables, Wag the Dog, The Spanish Prisoner, and the Oscar-nominated The Verdict) and many books on film, theatre, and acting. In 1983 Mamet and actor William H. Masy founded the Atlantic Theatre and acting school in New York City. 

Though, to my knowledge, not a believer in Jesus and as he is a Jew, I'm not sure if he is a practicing Jew, he speaks here as an artist who cherishes and values life with all its rawness yet reminds us that it should be valued nonetheless. When you remove God from the picture his complaint is what you end up with. The existentialists have invaded the main stream and are celebrating the fact that human life began as an accident. Life only has meaning as we give it meaning - enter the humanist. Therefore, Life is meaningless (has no value) so lets destroy it.        
We live in an illiterate country. The mass media – the commercial theatre included – pander to the low and lowest of the low in the human experience. They, finally, debase us through the sheer weight of their mindlessness. 
Every reiteration of the idea that nothing matters debases the human spirit.
Every reiteration of the idea that there is no drama in life, there is only dramatization, that there is no tragedy, there is only unexplained misfortune, debases us
We are destroying ourselves by accepting our unhappiness. We are destroying ourselves by endorsing an acceptance of oblivion in television, motion pictures, and the stage.
Who is going to speak up? Who is going to speak for the American spirit? For the human spirit? 
Who is capable of being heard? Of being accepted? Of being believed? Only that person who speaks without ulterior motives, without hope of gain, without even the desire to change, with only the desire to create: The artist. The ACTOR. ~ from Writing In Restaurants
Leave me your thoughts...what do you think?


9 BE HIP! share your comments. Give your thoughts.:

Crystal Martinez said...

Nowadays mass media has much to do with the waning desire for the arts. Like I remember you stating before, television is cheap and fairly accessible to the majority of America. This generation has been reared on soaps, game shows, and series for so long, plays are things you only read about in English and literature classes. Unless you were fortunate enough to attend a school which supports and features the arts, you most likely won't be introduced to the playhous. Easy entertainment has taken over the longing for the live stage for many more reasons than this, it takes an effort to go out and see a play, while plopping in front of the boob tube is as easy as a button pushed on the controller, or a few clicks of the mouse.

George Baiz said...

With such thoughts that's plagues at times every artist designer or creative minded person. Passion for what we feel and how do we convey this to the world. Do we let our own spirit die or our flame go out. Due to life doing us instead of us doing life? I'm not at all a threatre major or even know the first thing about that life imitates art or however that statement goes. Really ask yourself is that true? It's really about human connection. Go deeper spiritual connection. Jesus came to this world and didn't have the modern day technologies to spread his word. He reached us, touched us. Even he was touched by the the faith and belief that people knew in their very soul that he was the one. So I asked how do we in these days do we become so passion driven to touch the untouchable due to life running over them? I say take it old school. Remember how getting ready for the play wasn't a choir but more of a gift. That expecting an event that would make u look, feel or be changed due to the human connection performed on stage that brought fourth a spirital revelation.

Anonymous said...

Amazing Blog ma. Very insightful. There is something about theater that no type of media came replace.

Marcia H. Walker said...

Life is what you make it to be and how you react to what comes your way. Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To every thing there is a season and time for every purpose under the heavens." There are four(4) seasons, that means life is always changing nothing remains the same. If everything remains the same then it would be boring. Then because we have Jesus in our life we have hope and because we have hope we have energy and something to foward to. Salomon said that all is vanity and that nothing means anything really in life but this only happens when we don't have hope. Hope is life and we gain hope from Jesus. He is the key to everything. So in essence with Jesus and hope we are doom and have nothing to live for or look foward to. We are going to go throug ups and downs, struggles, crisis, bad situations, good situations, etc. nothing remaining the same. This is what we call life but it comes out better when we view things through the eyes of the Lord and allow him to motivate us and take us through because he can see the way ahead of us in the future.

Marcia H. Walker said...

REPOSTING one area. So in essence without Jesus and hope we are doom and have nothing to live for or look forward to.

Shawn said...

He is the only one that makes me want to go on, He is my song when I feel hopeless, He is my Joy when I feel alone. There is an old song Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before, Everyday with Jesus I love him more and more. I have learned so much about myself in the last 3 years, How much I depend on my Father.

Gregory Nelson said...

My attention was drawn to his closing statements, "Who is capable of being heard?" ... "The artist. The ACTOR." Recently someone said to me, sometimes it takes an artist to express certain emotions or experiences that otherwise are too complex to articulate. It seems that God has given creative types the ability to recognize and express the intangible undercurrents of life. For instance, recognizing the fact that mass media, like much of what we consume, being a mere imitation of something that actually exists. Real art, that truly imitates life and the human spirit. Although I disagree with some of Mamet's statement. I think that an artist's "desire to create" comes out of a God designed passion to impact others, so in essence we really do have ulterior motives.

Crystal Lucca said...

last night I was feeling tired and stressed from my busy week and wanted to sit and relax for a little bit before bed. I sat on the couch and turned on the TV, and as I flipped through the channels the thought that came to mind can be summed up by what I just read..." Mass Media DEBASES us with the weight of their Mindlessness!" perfect summary to my thoughts!Seemed all I could find was cartoons that tried their hardest to provide a shock factor by offending nations, religions and sexual orientations. A slew of shows finding a new creative crime to solve and or shows about vampires.. lol(definitely not relaxing to watch!) and definitely lots of "reiteration of the idea that nothing matters"! Definitely nothing that supported the value of life. Definitely leaves you longing for something that is entertaining yet inspirational!

WT Durrance said...

Thank you to all for your insightful comments. My apologies for not responding sooner.

@crystal martinez: keen observation as to why many don't attend theatre. Do you think it could also be the rising prices?

@george baiz:" event that would make u look, feel or be changed due to the human connection performed on stage that brought fourth a spirital revelation". I think you're on to something. That is it isn't it? We become so passionate about our art (not for selfish reasons) it transcends our imperfection as God takes it and speaks through it. The early Greeks had it through their tragedies where the viewer had a cathartic moment by seeing the ugliness of humanity on stage mirroring back to the individual their own ugliness whereby causing personal change.

@gregory nelson: I have heard that statement also about artists being able to give voice to the things others can not. I do think there is so much truth in that. The poet today is like a prophet.

"I think that an artist's "desire to create" comes out of a God designed passion to impact others, so in essence we really do have ulterior motives". If by "ulterior motives" you mean hidden, I'm not sure i can agree with that altogether. Isn't it possible to just create without an agenda? It would be the difference, as I have pointed out in another post, in art that is Christian and "Christian Art". Might we be able, as Christians, to create without intention to evangelize? So artistic self-expression without intentions give impetus to more authentic and truthful art; as a result God gets glory. I'm not saying "with" intention God doesn't get glory.

@crystal lucca: I doubt even most of us "really see" what we are watching. Haven't we all succumb to mind numbing entertainment? We have trained ourselves to, by way of TV mostly, to accept bad art. When is the last time a TV entertainment show made us think on any deep level?

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