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John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) on the creative process

There is so much WIN in this video I don’t know where to start.

He talks about how when he was working on a problem and being stuck, and then going to bed and waking up with the solution is really profound, and, no lie, very similar to an anecdote I tell in class about my days as a software engineer, and how the solutions to certain quagmires would come to me on Sunday morning in the shower. The unconscious keeps working when we stop.

His point about the destructiveness of interruption to the creative process is a point that I make in class as well: I strongly encourage students to create rehearsal environments that exclude interruptions as much as possible. Interruptions block the flow. The flow comes of its own accord, but if you don’t take enough responsibility for your rehearsal circumstances to avoid constant interruption, it won’t come at all. He uses the images of a tortoise shell and an oasis to suggest the enclosure needed for creativity. He talks about how creating boundaries of space and boundaries of time are essential for creative work.

“when you

[create boundaries of space and time], you’ve created an oasis that is separate from ordinary life, and then, and only then, can you play.”

And his jab at Hollywood is spot on. And so is his riff on the way that institutions quash creativity. Someone at the Drama School once told me (and he was in a position to know) that it was extremely rare for the artistic director of a theater to hire a freelance director who they perceived to be more talented than they are. That’s exactly what he is saying here.

This one is going in the syllabus.

In short: watch it.

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2018-02-26T21:49:32+00:00