Sunday in the Park with George, Dot and Louis: collaboration, community and relational aesthetics

Symonds, Dominic (2014) Sunday in the Park with George, Dot and Louis: collaboration, community and relational aesthetics. In: Song, Stage and Screen IX: The Art Of Collaboration In Musical Theatre, 24 - 26 June 2014, Sheridan College, Oakville, Canada.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


One assumption about the shared enterprise of collaboration is that it involves participators working together on an equal, democratic basis. Linked to this are certain politically idealized ethics about collaboration as a community act, whose bonds and expressions are often seen as inherently valuable. In the relational aesthetics of contemporary art, however (where the artistic experience is created and enjoyed as a communal activity rather than by an author-artist), this tendency has been critiqued: trumped by the worthy praxis of community collaboration, argues Claire Bishop, the aesthetic (artistic) value of the work itself is overlooked, a situation that mirrors the concomitant privileging of process over product in much collaborative praxis. Unlike fine art, however, theatre and especially musical theatre are in their nature relational activities requiring collaborative practice. But does this mean that the collaboration of musical theatre likewise compromises the aesthetic of the art? This paper will explore whether productive collaboration in musical theatre is best served by dynamics of community or hierarchy. I will discuss some common collaborative forms of western music/theatre, noting how different communal and individual compositional processes conceptualise different collaborative ensembles (orchestra, jazz group, musical theatre chorus and ensemble) and construct very different products. Then I will consider how we might read the collaborative product of staged process in Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. Finally I will turn the findings from this analysis back upon the practice of collaboration itself, asking if we can learn about our practice from the products we construct.

Keywords:Relational Aesthetics, Stephen Sondheim, Collaboration, Performance, Bourriaud, Sunday in the Park with George
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W310 Musicianship/Performance studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
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ID Code:22459
Deposited On:09 Mar 2016 15:10

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