People work better in groups, when presented with challenges? I would never have guessed. In an article from Wired magazine several weeks ago, the concept of “the Autuer” is dissected.
It’s a provocative analogy, but I think we tend to overemphasize the singular impact of auteurs, at least in the film business. (I’ll refrain from speculating on the internal workings of the uber-secretive Apple.) Consider the career of Alfred Hitchcock. Although the director is often cited as the quintessential auteur – every Hitchcock film overflows with “Hitchcockian” elements – his films were also a testament to his artistic collaborations. This helps explain why Hitchcock flourished under the studio system, as the studios helped make such collaborations possible, signing the talent to long-term contracts. (In the late 1940s, Hitchcock actually experimented with independent cinema, and set up his own production company. He folded the company after his first two films flopped.) At first glance, this seems surprising: Why would a genius like Hitchcock need the constraints of the studio system? Shouldn’t all the other people and the feedback of executives held him back? Auteurs aren’t supposed to need collaborators.
I think this idea is a problem in more traditional theatre as well, although it’s changing a lot. The problem seems to exist more in terms of solidly being one thing or another in the theatre world. If you’re a stage manager, for example, that’s how you’re defined til Kingdom Come. Er? No, most of us are good in multiple roles, which is why I uber-pretentiously define myself as “theatre artist.”
Directors, artistic directors, playwrights, or actors are not god, and they’re not the sole driving creative force (although I will tip my hat to stage managers and say that, without that kind of technical, organizational help, nothing would ever get done, ever). If you go see a show and you like it, thank everyone involved.
I mean, really, this is the drive behind ensemble theatres, and collaboration between theatres.