October 2013

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October 2013

News From Lea Asbell-Swanger, USITT President

Institute's Stories Create...

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
~Muriel Rukeyser

Muriel Rukeyser was an American poet and political activist best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1935 as that year's winner of the Yale Younger Poets Series, the oldest annual literary award in the United States. In addition to her poetry, she wrote a fictionalized memoir, plays and screenplays, and several biographies. Her last book, More Night, a children's picture book, was publish posthumously in 1981. (She died on February 12, 1980.)

I wasn't familiar with Muriel Rukeyser or her work until I read the quote above as part of a colleague's e-mail signature. The quote was intriguing as it seemed a compelling combination of art and science, and it referenced stories as a foundation of something greater.

As I've mentioned before, I believe that storytelling is what unites us. As I considered this quote in those terms, I was reminded that it's not the small parts, the atoms if you will, but the collaboration or how the parts collide and join (to take this to the border of allegory) that defines the end product. Often the collisions are the most productive parts of the process. Think high energy (passion) seeking low entropy (order and structure). As we know, ultimately the story has to fit within a defined space, time period, and resources – you know the old saying: fast, cheap or good; pick two – but we've all been part of the magic that has accomplished all three.

Now what does any of this have to do with USITT? It is the vehicle by which we share that magic with one another and, from that, create new magic. It turns out that the magic is really understanding and creatively using science and technology. It's about innovation as a means of better storytelling.

USITT provides training, education, networking opportunities, documentation, international exchange, research funding, etc., so that methods can be shared, modified, and improved. Long-time innovators in the industry are honored alongside those just beginning careers. Alliances are formed with a host of organizations, some with overlapping multiple points of interest and some with just one essential connection. The mechanisms used for these activities are not all new, but each of them has been impacted by changes in technology and will continue to be because USITT is also improving its storytelling.

Remember, if you're reading, this you; you are USITT and integral to its story.

And so, the universe is made of stories

Lea Asbell-Swanger

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail Lea at Lea.Asbell-Swanger@usitt.org.