Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The age old time and place...

There's been quite the incident locally last weekend of a performance that really wasn't meant at all for the venue, which was a family friendly event with an outdoor stage. It was to the point where the event producer had to cut the music short and end the performance there. (I won't say more details but, if you want to know, you can ask.)

Not the right time and place...

The producer feels that she's being tried in public for what happened but, really, the vast majority of folks are on her side. The sentiment that is often expressed is that this was not the right time and place for it. In that specific case, there are very few times and places that I can think of for it to make sense.

Now this is one example (and it was quite the extreme one) but I have seen a bunch of those kinds of no no performances over the years. And we always say that it wasn't the right time or the place. That's being nice to the performers but, really, honestly, sometimes, there is virtually no right time and place for a certain performance.

The other issue I have with the sentiment is that it pushes the issue onto someone else, onto whoever has that possibly okay time and place. Case in point, for that specific example, it was said that perhaps it would have been better at a horror themed show. Well, the producer of the local horror themed belly dance show chimed in and said that, no, it wouldn't have been okay even at her show.

Sure you can... Should you?

This is something that I've heard Tempest say many times. And, man, is that true. And you could tweak it to "Sure you can... Should you... at this time and place?" But sometimes you want to take it a step further and think "Sure you can... Should you... ever?" And, yanno, some ideas should never have been actualized. Or, if dicey, you really gotta pick your time and place. They may sound good in your head and you get enamored with the concept. But sometimes it's taking it too far.

What is your goal?

I do realize that the caveat to the above question is that, for some, the answer will be yes. So, okay, you should. Fine. What is your goal with this performance? What are you trying to accomplish? What are you trying to say? If you're just trying to shock people, is it really worth it? And don't you want to have more to say with your dance? And if it is a topic for which you feel strongly, is this the best medium to voice your concerns/angers/agenda?

Art as an excuse

I've heard way too many times art being used as the excuse for why someone did something. "Oh, it's art." Okay. But art has a goal. Or should have a goal. It's usually to make the audience/viewer feel *something*. So, again, what were you trying to make the audience feel? Go back to asking yourself what the goal is and don't hide behind art as the blanket statement under which you're hiding your real reasons for doing something.

If you really must...

And if you really must do that performance because you have a burning need to do it, please then consider carefully the time and place for it. It is very unlikely that a family friendly show in the park will be the right place for it. A setting where adults only are present is likely better. But the best idea yet would be to do those at your own show or your own gig that would have an appropriate setting.

If you're not up for creating your own show, give a heads up to the producer about your performance and run it by them ahead of time. EVEN IF it is the right time and place. You may need to have a sort of "trigger warning" statement ahead some performances. Allow the producer to be prepared for what's coming. And, I'm sorry, but it's their show and they can say yay or nay on your act so be ready to gracefully accept their decision.

The problem with doing controversial pieces at someone else's show is that it is a risk for a whole lot more people than just you: it can create backlash for a producer and for a venue. A venue could very likely ban a producer from running their show there based on your performance. Or the venue may be banned by patrons because of what happened. It has more ramifications than just you.


Of course, the first thing is to be aware that your piece might be controversial in any way... which, in most cases, seems to be an elusive thing for those performers who I've seen do those pieces. You should have your own internal censor that asks if it's a good idea and assesses how it might be perceived from the outside (again, at that time and place). You can also ask a friend to assess if it's a good idea or not... but they'd need to be truthful. And, if all else fails, yeah, perhaps the venue and/or the producer will have to yank you off the stage (before or during your performance) because they have a duty to the audience.

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