We Are the Best Imitators in the World. And That’s a Good Thing.

It’s common for artists to want to be true originals with their work, but how often is that really the case? And do they really need to be? Jim has written on this topic of originality before. He wrote:

“Half of Broadway’s content is from other sources, according to this article. And you know what? I don’t care! … Hey, Shakespeare cribbed Ovid, Plutarch and folk tales from all over Europe, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for Broadway.”

This Aeon article makes the case that we tend to think of innovation springing from a lone genius, which is actually a myth, because it’s the product of lots of copying and a little bit of creativity.

The article states: ” … according to a cluster of like-minded researchers, we’ve misunderstood how innovation really works. Throughout human history, innovation – including the technological progress we cherish – has been fuelled and sustained by imitation. Copying is the mighty force that has allowed the human race to move from stone knives to remote-guided drones, from digging sticks to crops that manufacture their own pesticides. Plenty of animals can innovate, but no other species on earth can imitate with the skill and accuracy of a human being. We’re natural-born rip-off artists. To be human is to copy.”

It’s an interesting read, packed with all sorts of thought-provoking tidbits. And, as Jim pointed out in his post, in which he referenced Jordan Roth’s 2012 TEDxBroadway talk, it’s not just the “what” that we choose to put on stage but also the “how” — meaning, how you turn the source material into an unforgettable, original live experience for your audience.

Watch Jordan Roth’s TEDxBroadway 2012 talk:

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