|For over twenty-five years, Luciano has worked in film and theatre as a producer, writer, director, dramaturge, designer, performer and teacher. His work is comprised of almost two hundred productions in five languages, presented In locations ranging from British Columbia to Italy; from Baffin Island to Brazil. He has worked extensively in Popular Theatre, both on stage and in film. Luc directed a multi-award winning video on street youth and AIDS, WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?||
Having worked on numerous collaborative and collective works - both in theatrical and non arts associated projects - I'd like to address certain concerns outside the artistic merits of multiple contributions. Performance (the paradox of art) is very much a personal experience because so much of a presented theme or topic created for an audience to witness is the writer's, director's, performer's or designer's personal vision or interpretation. This exposure of the artists' intimate selves leads to judgements by the viewer, which are often taken personally. That is why the personal stakes are so high in the performing arts. Although we artists can poke fun at ourselves for our expressions of "being in the moment" or "burning on the stage", there are truths to these adages-aphorisms that reveal artists' emotional vulnerability. As an artist undertakes these risks in a creative enterprise, they might ask, "Under what terms am I doing this?"
Ideally, collaboration would be an egalitarian endeavour - everyone involved would have their contributions recognized. In reality, the process will likely evolve into a hierarchical structure, where one contributor's opinions will carry more weight than their collaborators' Is this still a collaboration? Who has the final say? Does everyone in the collaboration have the same voting power? Will someone inside or outside the group be chosen as arbitrator in conflicts? How will the credits be listed? If what was originally discussed has changed-permutation occurs in any organic, creative process-is this still a collaboration? What is worth fighting for, in terms of: 1) yourself, personally 2) yourself, as an artist 3) the project re: the work, the audience, the grant, etc. 4) your association with your collaborator as a professional associate 5) your' association with your collaborator as a friend or lover/partner? The issue of responsibility then becomes paramount-whose idea was it originally? Who decides what stays, gets cut or changed? Who made the greatest contribution (and is that so important)? Who decides what it should look or sound like (so that the merited credits or criticisms may be awarded to the deserved contributor)? Therefore, before undertaking any project - especially among friends, ("Hey, I was thinking the same thing!" "We should work on it together." "Yeah, it'll be fun!") - roles and responsibilities should be defined.
Written agreements, or contracts, should be drawn up to protect everyone's interests: clear definitions of role responsibilities help avoid foreseeable conflicts ("I improvised that sequence! Why are you getting credit as the choreographer?"). Be familiar with various types of artists' contracts (e.g. American and British Writer's Guilds define that any contributions made to a theatre production, by any artists, become property of the playwright the instant they are made) and use these as a basis for your own agreement with your collaborators. Make sure everyone understands the terminology when it comes to the definitions. A mutual agreement assures an expected level of what each collaborator will offer and a guaranteed level to which each will be rewarded.
Conflict can often be a wonderfully creative stimulant as long as the conflict remains within the dramatic context and doesn't slide into personal acrimony. I have witnessed too many friendships and relationships needlessly compromised, and have seen them then collapse into recrimination because of presumption and assumptions. It is the positive which constantly draws artists to the process of collaboration - the shared experiences of communal creation that take performance art back to its primal origins. Collaboration allows the artist to become teacher and pupil simultaneously, thereby expanding the artist's creative boundaries. The artistic rewards of a successful collaboration can be re-energizing and absolutely exhilarating.
The idea of a collaborative contract may sound too 'administrative' for a creative process, but think of it as groundwork, or insurance, for potential future collaborations with the person(s) you presently respect and admire, and with whom you desire to work. For information regarding artists' rights in Canada as pertaining to Canadian Federal Law, see the contents of Bill C32 at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/bills/government/c-32/32/12472b-2e.html#5
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