Innovating Through Artistry

Keep it Simple, Stupid.

In Author: Jim Hart on October 19, 2009 at 10:51 pm

The first time I created an original work of theatre,  a production I wrote and directed at the Yale Cabaret called The 9th Annual World Weight Wrestling Blood Exxxtravaganza—a social commentary told through “professional wrestling”, I was given sage advice from renowned stage combat choreographer Rick Sordelet. “Keep it simple, stupid”, he often told me.

Most great works of art are simple. Sometimes, we as artists, attempt to say too much at once. Consequently, we muddle our work. Simplicity allows for depth. Here are a few examples that come to my mind:

The Beatles Yesterday
Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh
The Story of a Mother by H.C. Andersen
Any of the Brothers Grimm tales
The work of Ansel Adams
The Far Side comics by Gary Larson
Norman Rockwell’s paintings

I could go on and on, medium after medium.

Each of these works, it is interesting to note, has or will likely stand the test of time.

Keeping our created form simple allows for us focus on depth of expression. Advice for the day? Keep it simple, stupid.

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  1. I absolutely agree that simplicity can be the most powerful musical statement that exists. It allows listeners to easily comprehend the piece and become part of its emotion. My favorite example of this it the duet “Pur ti Miro” from Monteverdi’s “L’incoronazione de poppea”.

  2. To keep things simple is such a valuable piece of advice, yet one that many find hard to follow. I think it is also good advice for life in general. People who lead simple, yet meaningful, lives are often happier than those who clutter their lives with meaningless crap. And this is truly an age of meaningless crap. Sometimes it’s not what we do, but what what we don’t do that makes a difference in our lives and in our art. Any sage can tell you that.

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