A Theatrical Experience Without the Ego
Who can name artists who died by the age of 27? Here’s a partial list.
Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)
Amy Winehouse (1983-2011)
Jim Morrison (1943-1971)
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
Janis Joplin (1943-1970)
Robert Johnson (1911-1938)
Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)
Brian Jones (1942-1969)
They had many things in common – their young talent, their fame, a possible propensity for danger and self-destruction. And . . . wait for it . . . GENIUS. Or at least, that’s the label they were given. The one trend for all of them is at the end they were flying solo. They were not collaborating with their old friends or creating art with new innovators. They were isolated and overwhelmed. Look at the great artists who have aged relatively well, often collaborated, or were part of a pack of other artists - Dorothy Parker, Nam June Paik, Wynton Marsalis to name a few.
Brian Eno, the English musician and record producer who coined the phrase “Ambient Music” was a constant collaborator. He is not a fan of the lone genius theory. Eno is instead a fan of what he calls SCENIUS.
“Great new ideas are usually articulated by individuals but they are always generated by communities. What I see, is the waste we make of that possibility of cooperative intelligence. Being an artist, you hear a lot of talk about genius. Which is the process of singling out individuals in art history and saying those individuals were the important ones. Whenever you look at those artists you see they lived and drew from a very active flourishing cultural scene and they were only one of the elements in the scene. All these people who we are calling genius actually sat in the middle of something I would call scenius. Just as a genius is the creative intelligence of an individual, scenius is the creative intelligence of a community. What I want to see is more attention given to that possibility of creative behavior. What that means of course is two things. One of them is that they understand is that all people are born unequal and all people have a particular sense of gift and talents whatever they are. Secondly, that intelligence is generated by communities and cooperation of some kind.”
Seattle’s 14/48: The World’s Quickest Theatre Festival is all scenius, all the time. There is no time for your ego, only time for your art. Many inside and outside Seattle have derided its theatre community for being too provincial, unprofessional, or not risk - takey enough. “The spirit of risk taking and camaraderie” is the engine of 14/48. There are other 24 hour plays fests in the world but I am not aware of any that nourish the notion of scenius as well as 14/48 Projects. The 14/48 scenius has spread to Austin, Texas and the UK (Leicester, Wolverhampton, and London), and beyond.
Opening Night Energy
“Since 1997, 14/48: The World's Quickest Theater Festival has challenged Seattle's most daring theater artists to write, cast, design, direct, score, rehearse, and perform 14 world-premiere plays in 48 hours, dazzling audiences every time. Each weekend, artists gather on Thursday night. Writers are given a theme and write a play on that theme by the next morning. Directors are chosen at random, the plays are cast at random, musicians arrive and form a brand new band. Friday night, we present 7 world-premiere plays—never seen before, never seen again, impossible to forget—and then ask the audience for a new theme so we can start the whole process again in what the The Stranger describes as "a punishing artistic exercise in speed and endurance." --- https://www.the1448projects.org/
The combination of time pressure and great talent brought together in one space for one weekend to make theatre is as thrilling to watch as it is to participate. Leave your isolated tortured genius at home in their lonely garret and experience the creative intelligence of the 14/48 community.