As the performing arts develop, new challenges arise. We often discover unreached goals that are pushing us to seek for increasing quality. As a result, our productions become more complex, involving a rising number of detached crafts.
Improvement through specialization
Improvement brings with it evolving requirements. Meeting these efficiently demands higher, more specialized expertises for each facet of a show. Instead of using “all-rounders” we are likely to reach out for niche specific masters. Their high proficiency helps us to lift the production’s quality level through every department. As a result, backstage operations that used to be run by one technician are now covered by separate specialists for Light, Sound, Rigging, and so on. The same happens on stage: Rather than working with diversified performers we employ numerous experts for each segment: singers, actors, musicians, acrobats, and even separate ballet-, tap- or breakdancers. Hence, each person’s assignments are narrowed down for reaching distinct quality peaks.
Ignorance as a kind of personal focus
The career of these specialists depends on the individual development of a particular craft. Each member needs to become exceptionally good at a single task so they can thrive at high-end productions. Achieving this expertise involves an intense focus on one topic – and one topic only. For becoming a topnotch drummer, for example, you need to spend countless hours in the studio practicing. Any distraction or temptation to go in a different direction will take away from worthy hours needed to master one skill. This inevitably leads to a certain degree of ignorance and narrow-mindedness, simply because it is a prerequisite for becoming the best. A diva-esque behavior in this case often points at the uncompromising focus of a peak specialist.
Diversity versus Expertise
This would all be fine if it weren’t for creativity, which relies on diversity, complex thinking, and connecting separate building blocks. Innovation demands openness and broad knowledge to enable critical thinking as well as finding adequate solutions for difficult situations. It appears to be the opposite of narrow specialist knowledge.
Who are the broad specialists?
Hence, stage productions are facing the problem that high expertise becomes most valuable when correctly embedded in the overall process. More than ever are we depending on key positions for linking separate units while guaranteeing both a rising quality and creativity. A paradox emerges: The more professional experts we employ, the more important become people focusing on the broad overview. We need to find partners who truly master the art of making fine peak performances available and accessible. It turns out to be rare expertise finding instant access to the various working areas, mastering cross-thinking and connecting the different crafts – all of this on the demanded high level!
Though, as innovation proceeds, the performing arts will need to focus extensively on ensuring a smooth collaboration between the segments for giving niche experts the freedom to do what they are best at: contributing their master art.