Jason Robert Brown's blog post last week has received quite a bit of attention, causing him to shut off any further comments, though the debate continues on in other forums. It's an interesting topic, to be sure, and it highlights problems that transcend even the theatre industry, bringing about questions of where technology is going and how to hold future generations responsible for things they do in this virtual world (as well as the need to readjust antiquated, tangible analogies for the information that is passed along these channels).
Another blog post I read recently that brings up an interesting perspective from a writer's point of view comes from B.T. Ryback's guest blog at Ryan Scott Oliver's Crazytown Blog. In response to a prior blog made by Julia Meinwald about the idea of the "autobiographical song," Ryback offers his own criticism of the expectations for contemporary writers to draw directly from their personal experience. And while some of his argument is surely a bit incendiary (he makes the bold statement that "While at times this exercise in autobiography can be poignant and interesting, it isn’t really theatre"), he does touch on some really interesting points about the trend of musical theatre writers/composers moving more towards a cabaret set up for their work. I think one thing he does neglect to discuss is that there is a demand for this type of cabaret style -- it's not just the writers creating the work, but there are people across the country who are eager to perform these intimate, insular tunes (which is evident in the countless youtube videos of people making entire nights out of self-contained songs or licensing song cycles that are examples of "The Twenty-Somethings-Living-in-New-York-and-Creating-Art Dilemma" he mentions). However, I do think Ryback poses a meaningful and important challenge to writers: to not rest on the laurels of writing what you know. While it provides personal fulfillment and creative inspiration to draw from real life, the only way to continually expand one's craft is to create -- to reach outside of yourself and make something that didn't exist before.
Also, I just wanted to close out this blog with some videos which are now up of Joe Iconis' show at the Duplex. I think this batch of new tunes is quite affecting. While about disparate subjects -- Norman Bates, a werewolf, and an introspective human male -- a sadness, deeply felt and seemingly personal, lurks just below the surface. Enjoy, and happy 4th!