Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Saw a show last week with a friend which I loved, and she hated, claiming that it was far too "commercial" for her tastes.

Took me a while to put my finger on why this bothered me so much. A think it's mainly because, well -- whoever said that "commercial" was necessarily a bad thing? It's wrong to entertain people?

The protest, I imagine, comes from those who say that it's wrong to sell out one's artistic integrity for the sake of making a buck. Which is undoubtedly true, not least because it doesn't actually *work*. But, y'know -- in my opinion, the error lies in viewing art and commerce as being two forces that are at war with each other. One without the other doesn't really have value, right?

It's an attitude I hear from a lot of other artists -- a sense of resentment at having to reckon with market forces. They'd rather just be able to focus on being creative, rather than focus on having to connect their creativity to an audience. My response to this is, well, duh. Of *course* you'd prefer to just have the fun part without any of the work. And that's just too fucking bad, innit?

For my part, working with marketing and producing has, I feel, made me into a significantly *better* artist -- because I can't respond solely to the needs of my own creativity, but to the needs of an audience -- y'know, the people who are paying me to provide them with a service? I should probably be paying attention to them. Just a thought.

(That said, those aren't terms I'm thinking in when I sit down in front of a word processor. At that point, it's just me and the story. Eventually -- via rewrites, readings, et cetera -- I turn on my left brain, and that is emphatically A Good Thing.)

A comparison I heard a slam poet make was that performing is a lot like making love to the audience -- yeah, it's possible to do it in such a way that you're only servicing your own needs. And it's possible to do it in such a way that you're only servicing theirs. But everyone has a lot more fun if you can find a way to pleasure both.

Aside from producing some awkward images -- I've certainly been part of performances where it felt like I was being gang-raped by the audience -- that's as effectively as I've ever heard it put.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Site updates

I've spent most of the past couple of days making updates to the site. Spending time on this kind of grunt work is really frustrating to me -- not so much because I see myself as being "above" those sorts of efforts, but because it's so time-consuming. English is my first language, not HTML, and I always have the sense that with the things that take me hours to do, there's any number of people who could take care of it in a matter of minutes.

There's also my frustration with the fact that I can spend so much time on something and have it still look like ass. There's really only two things that I'm pleased with regarding the site:

1) Its simplicity. One of my pet peeves are theatre websites that use Flash and Java and take twenty minutes for my internet connection to catch up to. When I go to a website, I want information that's easily accessible, and the site provides that.

2) Its tone, which is the only real advantage of doing everything myself. I just don't understand why so many small theatre companies strive after some cold, formal, "professional"-sounding tone. A directness of communication between artists and audience is one of the advantages of a small company.

That said, I certainly wouldn't object to a much slicker *appearance* to the site -- or, at least, something that didn't scream "My First Website -- From PlaySkool!"

Then again, perhaps something with lots of interesting content, wrapped up in crap visuals, is a pretty fair representation of what the company does, sigh.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

welcome, bienvenue, welcome

Wheee-ha-ha. First post. Don't mind my dust.

Because maintaining two public blogs simply wasn't placing sufficient demand on my resources, this is the third. I doubt that anybody will be reading this -- at least, until I take the time to whip it up into something respectable -- but for anybody who stumbles across this, this is the official blog of Maximum Verbosity, a Minneapolis-based theatre troupe that is in a state of constantly redefining itself. More elaborate and undoubtedly less satisfactory explanations can be found by perusing the links to the right.

My name is phillip low, and I'm the producer of the organization, such as it is. My intention is for this to be

A) one more place to make official announcements from,
B) a place in which I can talk in more detail about those announcements without needing to sound official, and
C) hopefully a means for me to take some of the burden of yapping about my own company off of my other blogs.

I've been writing HTML all day, so I'm afraid I'm less than talkative right now. Stick around, though.