Maker – Artist as Producer Pt 2

Maker notebookI’ve been thinking about maker culture and theatre lately.

Briefly – “Maker” gets used to describe a hacker/DIY culture that values getting involved in building tech and stuff from the ground up (see: Wikipedia, CBC’s Spark.) There’s a leaning towards digital, robots and 3D printing, but I might toss in the resurgence of craft and reclaimed wood into the broad category.

There’s also lots of stuff around on “artist as entrepreneur” (like a whole magazine issue) and while I get the angle and think it can be helpful to bust up the entitled bureaucracy of Not-For-Profit conservatism, there is something in “maker” that draws me in. It resists the Always Be Closing, money driven image that entrepreneur calls to mind – but mostly making sounds more like what I want to do with my life. I’ve had a DIY value set since the beginning1 and I want to continue that, even as my ambitions grow.

There are questions of course: barriers to entry (knowing how to code) and orders of mystery (I don’t want to have to make everything I use) and the fact that maker cultures are often amateur and/or supported by day jobs. But it’s a frame that I find helpful right now. And want to acknowledge more.

Making theatre, as I imagine it, is led by curiosity and a desire to put things in the world that make it better. It’s dedicated to human scale and connections. It’s social and accessible in the doing and the seeing. It’s resourceful and cunning, ethical and generous.

An important part of maker culture that I’m missing, is the getting together. Toronto theatre big as it is, has all the problems of Toronto, big as it is.3 We’re busy, we’re trying to get by, we’re moving around and staying in our hoods. There are festivals and openings, conferences and professional development opportunities, but making needs something a bit different – it needs hackerspaces and meet ups. Something more open and announced than drinks with friends and less formal and certainly less expensive than associations and conferences in swank hotels.

It needs a bar night.

So, let’s make one.
– Next Thursday –
January 24th. Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton).
Anytime after 7.
They have drinks and some food for sale. (and some pinball)
for more info/let me know you’re coming.

Everyone is welcome. I talk about theatre in this, but think there are shared issues with dance makers, music makers etc…) No agenda or structure. Social and led by desire.

It’s that easy if we want it to be.

  1. My parents were back to the landers and both did a lot of starting things. Halifax was a pretty boring place for a teenager, so fun had to be made. At university I was given the tools2 and as a young artist there was little was little option. I was (am) too contrarian / scattered / picky / impatient etc… to be a very good assistant director or to work my way up some ladder of approval in the established theatre. So the only option was to make and produce my own work. This has, almost to a fault, continued.(Yes, there’s a footnote in this footnote. Linearity is hard.) ?
  2. At SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, there are a series of courses on Playmaking. In my day that looked like a semester of intro to story structures, Aristotle and writing alone and in groups, a semester of Clown-through-Mask with Penelope Stella, then Black Box, a class making a new show of short works every two weeks (more come soon – I’m looking to do this in Toronto – email me to keep informed) and finally an advanced story structure class. These courses and the general ethic of the school at the time undeniably shaped my values on this. ?
  3. Probably not unique to Toronto, but the scale does seem to impact. ?

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