Monthly Archives: December 2009

Shakespeare’s Stars Uncrossed

Re:Creation is happening all around you.  You just need eyes to see it. 

Maria Aitken breathes new life into Shakespeare for hundreds of viewers a night in a posh, but cosy theatre in Chinatown, DC.  For someone not very well versed in Shakespeare, I feel I have a new understanding of the man.  And this thanks to Maria and her amazing cast and crew.

In dusting off Shakespeare’s collection, you will mostly find star-crossed lovers.  However ‘As You Like It’ is something different for the “Bard of Avon”.  The one who seems to suggest we give all to Love – despite the fact that it will bring us ruin – turns that on its head here.  Two lovers who reinvent themselves over many years (the heroine changing herself into a man), somehow wind up winning one another’s affections, and trumping the will of the gods.  In this story humans will not remain ultimately confused by love.  They will against all odds live in the blissful tranquility of love requited.

The Shakespeare Theatre Company interpreted Shakespeare’s work in light of our postmodern context, and drew parallels between exiled Rosalind and Orlando and the exiles of many of our forefathers that brought them to the ‘Land that we Love’, America.  The story starts in a dark and cold England with an even darker and colder Duke.  Soon enough however, we saw Rosalind and Orlando’s love take shape over hundreds of years of American History, spanning the late 1700s to early 1900s.  This pays homage to Shakespeare’s belief in the transcendence of love, and also helps the audience understand the re-invention of culture that has marked our heritage since its inception.

The actors were incredible, as were the sets and costume.  The entire storytelling experience made me want to be a playwright, and caused me to question my own assumptions of love, as I was drawn into the transcendence of a story close to the hear of one William Shakespeare.

As a Shakespeare play may collect dust if not re-invented by a modern theatre company, so too will our culture decay if we do not re:create it.

We must all become re:creators… or we, like Shakespeare’s volumes un-acted, will languish.


Re:Creating The Automobile Industry

Re:Creation can look a lot like doing business.  Ford has “brought new life” to a decades-old company, while most of its domestic competitors have continued doing business the same way.  Sync may not swim, but he sure does look like he knows what he’s doing with that radio.  As cars become more and more an extension of their drivers’ personalities and commutes become longer, the ability to “sync” our own playlists, etc. has become increasingly important to my generation. (Keep reading below the photo)
There may be many reasons that Ford began turning profit precisely as the other American Automakers were receiving bailout money.  Having ridden in my dad’s Taurus just recently – a car that I loathed as a teenager – I can tell you from first hand experience that Ford has begun paying attention to details.  On my dad’s “not-so-new” Taurus, they even have lights under the side view mirrors so that you can watch your step when exiting the car at night.  I don’t believe you will find this feature on very many “entry-level” GMs.  Probably because they’re too busy figuring out how to “brand” themselves out of the image of “the car company that received a bailout”. 
Moving on, a brief look at Wikipedia will show why Ford is doing so well.  They began “re:creating” themselves in 2005. 

“In the latter half of 2005, Chairman Bill Ford asked newly-appointed Ford Americas Division President Mark Fields to develop a plan to return the company to profitability. Fields previewed the Plan, dubbed The Way Forward, at the December 7, 2005 board meeting of the company; and it was unveiled to the public on January 23, 2006. “The Way Forward” includes resizing the company to match current market realities, dropping some unprofitable and inefficient models, consolidating production lines, and shutting fourteen factories and cutting 30,000 jobs.[31]
These cutbacks are consistent with Ford’s roughly 25% decline in U.S. automotive market share since the mid-late 1990s. Ford’s target is to become profitable again in 2009, a year later than projected.”

To put all of this in Context, Richard Sennet writes in his book ‘Corrosion of Character’ this of Ford’s early days, “As Ford Motor industrialized its production process, it favored the employment of so-called specialist workers over skilled craftsmen; the jobs of the specialist workers were those sorts of miniature operations requiring little thought or judgment… By 1917, 55 percent of the work force were specialist employees…”  Doesn’t exactly sound like a hot-bed of innovation or “re:creation”.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe every Ford employee is now a fountain of creativity thanks to Fields’ restructuring plan.  However, I am impressed with a company that found it’s character among a morass of companions heading full steam ahead toward insolvency, and made the hard, but necessary steps to do business well again.  They are reaping the benefits. 

And GM and Chrysler are simply dumping our “bailout bucks” into better “Marketing”.  Get with it.

Kudos to Ford for “re:creating”