Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Like Edison's

Here's a short thought:

My bias against discussion is something I've learned to see as very English. I've known political theatre groups in Europe which would readily cancel a rehearsal, but never a discussion. My feeling is that the best argument may be a testimony to the skill of the presenter than to the excellence of the solution advocated. Also the bulk of discussion time is visibly taken up with transactions of status which have nothing to do with the problem to be solved. My attitude is like Edison's, who found a solvent for rubber by putting bits of rubber in every solution he could think of, and beat all those scientists who were approaching the problem theoretically.

From Impro, by Keith Johnstone

I'm re-reading Impro, which can be considered one of the seminal books on improvisation. The last time I read it must have been close to twenty years ago. I consider this a formative book to the way I view the world. Reading about Johnstone's approach to teaching, I see a lot of his ideas have been present in my teaching, theatrical and otherwise.

What I enjoy about the passage is that it implicitly draws a distinction between discussion and communication. Perhaps Johnstone meant to draw a distinction between argument and work. That seems valid to me too.

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