Thursday, July 24


This afternoon I left work early to go to what should have been an interesting panel discussion at The Public theater. 3 playwrights who also work in film and TV were to talk about the two worlds- film vs theater- and I dragged Christopher. Somehow I thought we'd gain some insight into the world we're trying to enter.

When I got off the subway, I was thinking of the swatching I've been doing, and also of Christopher's play. (For those of you who are curious, the play has so far been going very well. No, he hasn't been offered a production, but we've gotten very positive feedback from some people who are well known in the business.) Anyway, I was thinking about the nature of art and creativity, which you must realize I've been contemplating a bit recently.

Here's the gist of what I was mulling:

"Art" is something that one hones. The word "art" is used to describe something that is masterful, something that requires skill and thought and intense study. And for this reason, theater is my art. I have been involved in theater intensely for the past 17 or so years, and I still find that there are many things to learn. But I also feel that I have something to contribute, which is very exciting.

Knitting is a much newer "art" to me. Of course, I've been knitting for longer, but I haven't been honing my skills. This past week I've been swatching a sweater that I'm hoping to design, and it's been so much fun just knitting lace pattern after lace pattern. I feel like each pattern has taught me something different about the yarn and what it can or can't accomplish. It's very cool.

So I came out of the subway, and I was contemplating all of these things in depth. And it felt pretty cool to be going to The Public and checking in and receiving a packet. But then the panel discussion began.

It really should have been an interesting panel. The playwrights they chose are all under 40 and very successful. But the moderator... she was from the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. For those of you who don't live in New York, I should explain. This office is mostly responsible (in my opinion) for encouraging film companies to shoot their films in New York. They draw tourists in to see The Lion King. They give tax incentives to TV shows with studios in Queens. Their mission is to bring money to New York, and they do it very well. But this isn't an office that is concerned with honing one's art form. They are business people.

So the woman moderating this panel of esteemed young playwrights was from this office. Not only did she ask questions that didn't lead to interesting answers (Q:"what is your typical day like?" A: "I always walk my dog, and I try to structure my writing around that.") but she suddenly started referring to "the industry" and "the business." In fact, in one of her questions, she went on and on about "the industry" this and "the industry" that. And when it came time for someone to answer, the playwrights all looked really confused and there was a pause until one of them then said, "What industry?"

The word "industry" implies that many people are making a living or something totally crazy like that, like we're factory workers who can be plugged in to a role here or there, when in theater the whole deal is that we can at least call ourselves "artists." I mean, that's why we get paid so little, right? Because that title (and the ownership of our work) is worth the lack of pay, which is more or less what one of the writers had just said. (of course, you could say there are "industry" people in theater, but they aren't the writers or directors or designers or actors. They are the agents and producers, and Broadway theater owners and stagehands, the folks who are living off of our struggles.)

This whole lack of understanding frustrates me to no end, probably because it just shows a huge disconnect between how the city views us theater artists as just another way to make money. They don't see that we're busy honing our art. argh.

Thank you for reading that. Your reward is my swatch. I think I'm on to something!Of course, I'm still not 100% sure what I'm going to do, but I have some ideas. Yes, you'll have to wait.
One really cool thing (that you can't see in these photos) is that the yarn changes very subtly from lavender to grey. I didn't know that would happen.


Anonymous said...

I love the lace swatches as well as your comments on art/artists. I don't want to be in the "industry." I just want to hone my art. (I should say arts, I guess: painting/fine arts + knitting.)
Have fun honing your skills ;-)

The Yarn Monkey said...

Nice lace swatches. I find that's a good use to knitting down-time. I can't wait to see how you apply it to a project.

Mary Jane said...

Well said! and lovely lace as well. I've found the same lace will totally change with different sized needles. I'll show you a great book when you're up in Maine, cant wait!