Maybe my generation has such a tough time with the word “collaboration” because we learned it in connection with those who helped the Nazis in and around World War II.
Yes, I’m dating myself. Even that phrase – dating myself – dates me, and no, I’m not going to dinner and a movie and hoping to have sex, I’m placing myself in the context of what is now ancient history, having been born in the 1950s and raised in the 1960s.
But back to collaboration.
As I embark on artistic collaboration number three, a huge undertaking between myself (playwright/lyricist/composer-arranger), a dance company, and a video artist, I’m looking back on previous collaborations in the hope of doing this one really, really well.
My deep-seated mistrust of the word surely colored my very bad adventure with a “director” who, in 60 hours of rehearsal, couldn’t manage to block a one-person 50-minute play. But perhaps the fault was my own.
That was my second collaboration; the first was glorious! I decided to say ‘yes’ to everything, with the idea that it might be the fastest way to find out what did or didn’t work. Luckily, my writing partner agreed, and the result, tho not art (we wrote overnight for a 24-hour theater project), was fun not only for us but also for the director, cast, and audience.
So, two rules:
If one believes in the power of “yes,” it’s crucial to find collaborators who also choose to say yes, rather than those whose methods are contrarian. I’m not dissing the contrarian standpoint, a lot of art is made that way, but if I’m saying ‘yes’ and only being told ‘no,’ and if I’m finally saying ‘no’ and then only being told ‘yes,’ nothing is going to get done.
As with most things in life, the clearer one is about what one wants and what one is doing, the more likely that the outcome will be positive.
Wish us all luck!
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