Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The language of art

Yesterday, I was talking to another coach- Hi Wendy! - and she said "The world is full of a number of things." to which I responded "I'm sure we should all be happy as kings." And we both started laughing like the schoolgirls we were when we both learned that quote from Robert Louis Stevenson.

Quotes, poems, verses from songs make up part of our common language. We don't try to be original in all cases. "Just like Romeo and Juliet," we say when we know a romance won't last. We have family shorthand to communicate with our loved ones. "Aunt Maude disease" we say in our family when someone gets a name wrong. Or I make a gutteral noise twice and my sister hands me a bottle opener. Language changes by profession. As a new supervisor, I was asked by a subordinate if she wanted me to "...put the Deltas in the shotgun?" Say What? I understood every word but not in that context. Translated, she wanted to know if I wanted the four-part timesheets in the inter-office envelope with the holes!  There are regional differences in language. Yesterday reading about Kate Middleton's pregnancy, I knew the source of the information was from England because it read that she was "in hospital." A U.S. based writer would have written "in the hospital." Our technology has changed our language. "c u l8r @11, bff," I might jokingly text my friend.

Language changes constantly. Language is how we communicate. Our ability to communicate in our art, whether it be through writing books, poems, screenplays or children's stories, visual art such as photography, painting or sculpture, or performance arts, say, dance, mime, street theather or improv is dependent on our ability to communicate to our audience. It doesn't matter if our audience is our five-month old daughter or thousands of people in a stadium.

So how do we learn the language of our audience? We get off our asses and go out among our audience. We go out into the world. We touch. We feel. We smell. We get smelly. We see. We hear. Not second, third or fourth hand over the Internet. Right now in real time. We get dirty. We get wet. We get cold. We get hungry. We cry.

Then we make art.