I see a lot of art – film, dance, theater, music – and, although I’m certainly not an expert, I am a seasoned audience member. So, with that in mind, here are a few totally subjective thoughts for artists to consider as they create new work.
1) DON’T BE BORING. One of the most common reasons a performance falls short is because it repeats the same idea over and over again. If you are repeating an idea without adding any new information, the audience will lose interest. You must constantly be moving the story forward, whatever that story is.
2) BREVITY. Another reason a performance often falls short is because it’s TOO LONG. Editing is your friend. In my opinion, most theatrical shows should run 75 minutes max with no intermission. There are, of course, lots of exceptions to this rule. My guess, however, is that your show isn’t one of them. Leave ‘em wanting more.
3) HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. Art, much like anything worthwhile in life, is hard to do. Your brilliant idea is merely that, an unformed, without detail, idea. And until you think that idea through, and that includes numerous rounds of building it up and smashing it apart, it’s probably not ready for prime time. I’m not saying you shouldn’t workshop ideas in front of an audience; sharing your work-in-progress idea can, perhaps should, be a part of the creative process. What I am saying is don’t waste time—yours and others—by presenting as finished, a half-baked idea that doesn’t take an audience on a compelling journey.
The bottom line is this: Art is language and language has meaning so make sure that your words, whatever form you say them in, matter.
Nancy Guppy is the host of Art Zone with Nancy Guppy.