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Generative Artist Talent Scouts

The following manifesto was presented as part of the American Voices New Play Institute's 21st Century Literary Office Convening that took place February 24 & 25, 2012 at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Click here to watch a video of all five manifestos presented to the convening.

In the lit office of the future, we will have figured out the work balance between the time-consuming act of digesting plays, and the equally time consuming act of devising ways of communicating to audiences about plays. Perhaps we will realize that this is two different jobs, and if we want one person to do those two jobs, perhaps we should clone her or download her understanding of a play into a nearby computer for implantation in the marketing team. Speaking of technology, the lit office of the future will have embraced the ways information technology can improve our work. If Facebook and Spotify and YouTube can turn us on to new music, why not new plays?

In this future we will also have figured out that "literature" is an obsolete term to describe a performance text and we will be called what we actually are, which is "generative artist talent scouts."

As a GATS we will be charged with nurturing, challenging and otherwise developing artists. Of course, the best way to do this is to create performances, which means we GATS have just morphed into producers. Future, you are so tricky.

When I think about this in the future, future Aaron realizes that “producer” isn't the right term. It's more like the moguls of the visual art world like Marian Goodman. Acknowledging that the financial model is fundamentally different, future Aaron is a producer/mogul providing artistic challenges to a stable of artists. Future Aaron may or may not rock a scarf and a walking cane.

Present Aaron would like you to note that Future Aaron is providing artistic challenges, not "opportunities." The word “opportunities” implies a graspy, tiered system in which people are playing at bigger and bigger venues with Broadway as the goal. Of course, Broadway doesn't exist in the future, but you know what I mean.

In this future we will also have figured out that "literature" is an obsolete term to describe a performance text and we will be called what we actually are, which is "generative artist talent scouts."

Future Aaron's relationship to artists is that of a true believer who encourages the artist to realize his greatest potential. Future Aaron is old, so it's like Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby, only the artists I work with will not end up paralyzed. Or dead. At least, not because of their achievements. Let's just focus on me as Morgan Freeman and not worry about the ways in which this simile falls apart under examination.

Present Aaron has just realized that he has admitted in public that he wants to be a guru. While this confirms the future scarf and cane, he is mortified to have discovered this in public and so will pivot away toward a new subject.

Well, this turns out to be less a pivot and more an awkward defense. What prevents future Aaron from being some skeezy, skin-crawl inducing faux mystic is, of course, scientific rigor and artistic discipline.

Between now and my Morgan Freeman days, I will have participated in a ground-breaking study of new play development techniques. This study will have laid the foundation for a style of work that supplements the intuition of dramaturgs and directors with detailed approaches for discovering the next draft that is hidden inside every current draft. Morgan Freeman will have overcome the every play is a precious individual snowflake argument. Instead, he will employ parallels drawn to the sciences of Method acting, Viewpoints, psychotherapy, and every other accepted system of artistic or personal exploration—all systematic techniques that are seldom accused of obliterating snowflakes.

Now that the future is swarming with GATS qua producers armed with non-mystical thinking, the whole notion of differences between a development entity and a producing entity has been obliterated, and no one sees any conflict between wanting to produce some plays one month and engaging in exploration and refinement of our discipline the next. The things we used to think of as theatres are bubbling cauldrons of creative exploration, and a survey of contemporary dramatic structures is as welcome an output from a theatre as a four week run.

And this, finally, means that we don't have to retreat to the halls of the academy to experiment and talk to ourselves about our history and our future; this upends the notions upon which most academic training programs are based, making them moot. Our theatres will be where we learn, where we play, and where we learn to play. Because the place where we practice our art, examine our art, and take our art to the next level is the theatre.

And so, to summarize:

· GATS challenging artists

· Morgan Freeman

· gurus (the good kind)

· cauldrons of creativity and never-ending learning

· rigor, production, reflection, evolution

The end.


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I like your way of thinking. Future Aaron and I have similar aspirations.

Currently, I'm at the stage in my work where, to become a guru, I need to master a discipline. The only thing is, I'm not sure what discipline.

Looking at it from another POV, I know who I hope to become– I just don't see the path to get there.

In the area where I live, very few people find any merit in refining the craft. To keep people interested, we've had to produce show after show and try to incorporate "refining" as part of the rehearsal process. The more professional actors we work with, the less they seem interested in exploring the "work of an actor." Instead, they want to memorize their lines, receive their blocking and go home.

Currently, our company is taking a break so we can figure out how to get people invested beyond the "show! show! show!" mentality.


Nice work here, Mr. Carter.

I'm so glad to learn that Broadway does not exist in the future. Both Future Romero and Present Romero welcome this artistic challenge. And your scarf looks awesome.