Thursday, October 18, 2012

Top Six: Definitions You Can Live By!

You probably hear these terms all the time in the course of pursuing your chosen field in the arts but might find that nobody can agree upon what they mean. Sure they may have literal definitions in the dictionary but they can take on completely ambiguous meanings when applied to something as ephemeral as art.  Well here are my definitions to six terms that I've seen cause bitter fights in the greenroom. And what better place to start than with one of the hardest...


  1. ART: A message that is trying to be conveyed by an artist through their chosen medium. Everyone has the capacity to make art no matter the age, skill level, or interests. Art is for all people and for all places. It can be cheap or priceless. Art can have different meanings depending on who made it and who's looking at it. Art is incredibly frustrating because it refuses to stay nailed down by definitions.
  2. CRAFT:  The language that you use to communicate your message. Craft builds up over time. It's a language you can learn and a vocabulary that you can expand as you learn. Your medium (painting, writing, acting, dance) are your words.
  3. SKILL: A mastery of technique in a craft. A mastery of skill can become like magic. You become so fluent in the language of your art that you start building something beautiful without thinking. Skill is a worthy lifetime pursuit that comes from a pursuit in a given craft.
  4. LEARNING EXPERIENCE: The point where you're on a verge of learning a new technique, a new trick, and you rack your brain trying to get it to work and finally you have a lightbulb flash in your brain as you get a sudden sense of discovery. This can also be called, "Getting it".
  5. TECHNIQUE: The building blocks of the craft. The words of the language.  As you start to use these more effectively and quickly they become like your native language. You don't have to think to use them. As you work each of these you build skill.
  6. THEATRE: The art of a person performing onstage with an audience watching. This is stolen loosely from Jerzy Grotwowski. Movement, Language, Narrative, etc. are the craft of the theatre. You ply you technique through several learning experiences to build a skill so great that you can woo the audience even better every time. Theatre is just one of the worthwhile crafts. 
Do you have an alternative definition to these? Do you have another ambiguous term that is causing a war among your friends? Be sure to leave a comment.

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