My daughter recently finished a month-long musical theater camp, in which a group of middle schoolers devised and performed their own original musical. ‘Devised’ means they created the entire thing from scratch – the concept, the story, the dialogue, the music and lyrics, the choreography, the sets, costumes, lights, everything. In one month.
For my part, I’ve been conducting research with the intent of “devising” a book for the better part of a year, and I’m still not totally sure what it’s about. It’s certainly not ready for opening night. I do know that I’m exploring, in the context of brand strategy, the interplay of creativity and analysis, art and science, so-called left-brain and right-brain. Something like that.
Back in the theater, the curtain went up, and in a splendid moment of confluence, I realized that the play they’d created was addressing the very topic I’ve been grappling with. The play was about a fictional boarding school called the Beckney School for the Arts and Smarts. The school has two separate campuses, one for the artistic types and one for the math and science types. A competition ensues, and the resolution finds the two enemy factions recognizing each other’s unique contributions and joining together to form a school called smARTS.
As with so many things, the kids nailed it first. While I’d been alternating between creative rumination and analysis paralysis, they’d come very quickly to the heart of the matter. They told a story that asked the relevant questions: Why do we tend to keep these disciplines separate? Is one really more valuable than the other? Can the two worlds come together with mutual respect, learn to communicate in each other’s languages, and ultimately be stronger together? And with a delightful array of colorful characters and plot twists, they arrived at the conclusion: our differences are our strengths, and, yes, we are better together.
I’d better buckle down now and keep writing. It’s time to merge the arts and smarts. I’ll let you know how it goes.