Organization follows Technology ? LO13458

Ray Evans Harrell (mcore@IDT.NET)
Mon, 05 May 1997 01:26:22 -0700

Replying to LO13393 --

John Zavacki wrote:
> (snip) but the punchline is this:
> no application, regardless of how well it is written can improve
> the productivity of a human who doesn't understand why it is written.
> Look to the individual skill sets, the leadership, and the organizational
> operating system of values and visions before you obfuscate the cause of
> the problem with another layer of complexity.


I could not agree with you more. In my experience I have had ensembles
that knew what they were to do but had individuals who basically were too
competitive to seriously learn the underlying logic of what they were
presenting. (I tend to be patient with this if it is not too destructive
due to my mentor's patience with me in the past. I believe in every
person's ability to self-educate.)

Not long ago I had a cast that had been developed for a special Carmen
production with the opera being a story within a story that focused on the
lives of the Gypsies today. The meaning of the Carmen myth for their
present situation. The cast had to learn to dance like Gypsies and create
a gypsy camp with all that it entailed.

The traditional press was mixed to the concept but the musical and dance
community was enthusiastic including a manager offering to market us in
Europe and in Japan. That old truth about being noticed being the
important thing held true here. We became famous for the "Anti- Carmen."

After a successful run in New York with lots of good coming out of the
production for the ensemble, we met for a feedback session to decide how
to proceed and how to benefit from the publicity and offers. What came
out of the session was that the most competitive individuals and the least
able to show their talent in the piece didn't understand the story. They
were bothered both by the team concept (as opposed to stars) and the
unique perspective of the production.

The audience understood, their colleagues understood and spoke excitedly
about the story and the unique performing ensemble approach. (My training
approach to their skill development) But these team members who were stuck
in the traditional models about the story were also conflicted about their
need for my skills in their development. In short, they were in a terrible
double bind. It did not help that their therapeutic work stressed all
authority as parental and therefore was a latent competition. (That
cursed "Transference.") I have become over the years convinced that
traditional psycho-therapeutic approaches are difficult for artists
involved in the authority required in following theatrical and musical
direction as a team.

Ultimately the company moved on and those individuals are out in the
performing job market.

Of course they have all called and expressed their enlightenment around
what I wanted from them and was doing in their evolution as an ensemble
team. I tell them that if this is true then they will be able to come up
with original ideas and develop them in the way that we did so
successfully in that ensemble. That the important thing is the
development of an audience for new and original operatic concepts. That
the truth of their enlightenment is in the demonstration of the learning.

I'm afraid that this model that goes "you have to kill your father before
you can be your own man" is one of the ways that I chose personnel now.
If they believe it then I don't hire them.

Ray Evans Harrell, artistic director/conductor
The Magic Circle Chamber Opera of New York


Ray Evans Harrell <mcore@IDT.NET>

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