Radical Transparency.

I was reminded of that term today. Greg Reiner from Tectonic was the man behind those words. (I know, it is not a new term for business – but for theatre… maybe?).

Then I read this NYtimes article on the life of undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas. Cory had shared it. Compelling. Tragic. Disheartening. Radical transparency.

Radical Transparency has nothing to do with reality television (or using realness for an end). It is more like free courses on Open Culture, or free teaching/learning through Khan Academy, or the sharing of ideas on TED talks, or the freeness of Charles Mee’s the (re)making project, or even the free music on RCRDLBL, or the group language learning of busuu. Well, sort of. That is freedom. That is giving a platform to share.

So then, radical transparency is… what? It moves beyond the platform. It is extremely active. It is participation. It is sharing. It is a platform. It is beyond sacred. Why? Because it is vulnerability. It is inviting input when you are not quite ready. It is not about control, because if you control it, then it is squashed. The more I think about it, it is theatre.

Okay, hear me out. What do we theatre peeps do? Playwrights share the depths of their imagination, actors share the depths of their souls, designers share the secret ways they see the world, and we put it on a stage for others to judge, enjoy, absorb, think-on, learn from, and more.

Is it far different to share more? Generosity. We have given our lives to this art, so why not open the doors to not just what we create but also how we do it and how our minds do it.

In the spirit of TCG: What if… we were not so precious with our ideas, our process, our creativity?

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One thought on “Radical Transparency.

  1. Thanks for posting this, Patrick. You literally took the words right out of my mouth! I still have some work to do in formulating my ideas on this topic of Radical Transparency, but I think it’s a really important concept for us to embrace as a field. I started down this spiral when I was meeting with the Artistic Director of a regional theater, and I casually asked him what his next season was going to be. He responded in hushed tones, “I can’t tell you, we are all sworn to silence.” At first I was just peeved, like- “you don’t trust me? Who am I going to tell?” And later that night I started to get very angry about the whole exchange, and the idea of this secret process of choosing a season…. and by extension everything we do in this field. How do you expect anyone to care about what you are putting on stage if you make it this ivory tower affair, where only the privileged get to be “in the know?” What if the whole process of choosing a season, casting and designing a play, etc., was Radically Transparent? I know that I as an audience member would be a whole lot more invested. When I hear sports fanatics talk about players and teams, the passion in their voices as they speculate and argue is so fervent, that it makes me wonder what we have to do to make people feel the same way about theater. It sure the hell isn’t by making it more secretive and elusive.

    Why not pull back the curtain? What are we afraid of?

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