Inconsistency is a beautiful thing. So, as a follow-up to my post on gatekeeping and standards, I have a confession to make: My circus has no standards.
Let me explain. When I say we have no standards, I don’t mean that we suck. We’re actually quite good. But the circus has a peculiar ethos (derived from the Burning Man community) that rejects the idea that one must attain mastery in order to have the right to be creative. As a philosophical stance, the circus folk believe that everyone can perform, anyone can entertain, we all can make art. Not that everyone can be Jackson Pollock, mind you, but that it is a normal part of human nature -- a human right, even -- to be creative and to wish to explore and express it. And, therefore, that everyone ought to have creative access without having to worry about standards and gatekeeping.
Furthermore, the circus folk believe that watching others be creative is inherently entertaining, whatever the person's level of skill. And you know what? This is acutely, brilliantly true. There's nothing more fun, in fact, than watching people be creative: it’s why I loved the circus from the first. It's why we're so much more fun than mass-media entertainments, which seldom are truly creative because they must appeal to lowest-common-denominator tastes.
One of the most fruitful juxtapositions in my life is the fact that I work within a very stringent professional discipline, and play with a no-rules, no-standards performance group.