Stephen Shelley

Creativity, Art, Lifestyle


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The Future of the Theater is not in Theaters

I've been involved in the performing arts for nearly 30 years, having acted, directed, produced and presented various types of performance, I managed a world class dance company and know, have known or know of, many world leaders in our vibrant and dynamic global community. And yet, not before in my lifetime, nor I believe for many lifetimes before mine, have we been in front of such a vast unknown as that which stretches out before us now. We stand on the cusp of perhaps the most exciting and riveting time of creativity since the time of the Greeks and, I predict, these shifting sands will cause us to rethink virtually every component of our artform.

My thesis is that the future of the theater is not in theaters. Or, more accurately, the scale of possibility for works of performance OUTSIDE of the traditional structure is far greater than inside the familiar, traditional structure AND that there is a corresponding hunger amongst existing and potential audiences for work which offers an active experience over a more traditionally passive one. This not only applies to performance which takes place outside of the traditional structure of a physical theater, but also to all of our structures: team building, administrative work, fundraising,'s all changing. The "future", therefore, lies mostly outside of these classic, more traditional structures. The innovation at our fingertips is large and exciting and invites an exploration into how this is literally redefining every facet of the performing arts.

And, in case you haven't noticed, it's already begun...

Could it be that the action for which we all describe the artform of live performance, the "theater", is seemingly evolving past its namesake? Why, now, are we witnessing such a radical revolution away from work which is presented in the traditional space? What fundamental shift has happened, or even more accurately, is happening, that has suddenly thrown into question virtually every fundamental fact of our artform? And, if this is true, where is it going and how do presenters, producers and other institutions respond?

My vision reveals to me an artform moving more and more outside of traditional spaces and into all kinds of different spaces. Public, religious, private, artsy, corporate, manufacturing, floating. We are witnessing the emergence of new and dynamic forms of performance: immersive, popup, mashup, site-specific, flash mob and more. Even the conventional notions of the “actor”, “director”, “writer” are changing. Given these fundamental shifts, our models of presentation, communication and administration are also being reworked.

5 Centimeters Per Second (2007) 65 Minutes

On Tsukamoto

[No-spoiler Policy]

5 Centimeters Per Second is a 2007 anime film Written, Produced, and Directed by Makoto Shinkai. Shinkai established himself rather well, 3 years prior to '07 with his film The Place Promised in Our Early Days and then, 2 years before that, he burst onto the scene with Voices of a Distant Star. That having been said, Makoto Shinkai already had many years of due diligence in the animated world which he brought to this masterpiece 5 Centimeters Per Second.

What makes 5 Centimeters so uniques right out of the gate, is its episodic format. It consists of three stories about the same characters at different times in their life. For the sake of genuinity, I am not going to hit up wikipedia or anything for titles and details. Also, my goal here is not to rehash the whole film, but to give my thoughts and critical take on the execution.

Shinkai delves into some very real, and very deep themes with this film. The first story is about a boy and girl who meet in school and become very close. The girl moves away, but they keep in touch through letters. This is a very important time in our lives. When the decision to act or not act can follow us for the rest of our lives.

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