We all need a bit of creativity and inspiration in our lives, but many of us don’t know how to kick start this. Collecting cuttings of images or quotes that inspire in some way, is a great way to begin the process of generating ideas.
Fun in Theatre Land is a unique example of this. It is wonderful and surprising personal scrapbook of cartoons compiled by W.B.Morris, containing examples from the late nineteenth century to the present day by H.M.Bateman, Nicholas Bentley, Giles Frank Reynolds, Heath Robinson, E.H.Shepard, Arthur Watts, and others. It is cloth bound with a red Morocco label on the front cover and spine, and is a massive personal collection, lovingly put together in this buckram bound album.
“I could use the juggler.”
Many of the cartoons in Fun in Theatre Land look like they may have come from Punch magazines. We have several beautifully bound collections of Punch in stock too. Punch magazine started in 1841, and gave us the style of cartoons that we know today.
Punch cartoons, and the cartoons in Fun in Theatre Land, are witty social commentaries on the British character of the times, and both showcase a wide selection of illustrators.
All the cuttings in Fun in Theatre Land make reference to the theatre, or entertainment business in some way, and are from newspapers, magazines and various publications, carefully cut out and pasted in, together with their humorous captions. W.B.Morris obviously had a great passion for the theatre, and this enthusiasm is palpable and really heartening to feel, as I turn page after page of hilarious dry wit and beautifully executed illustration.
To be a cartoonist is to be creative on several levels, turning observations and opinions into pithy one-liners, while at the same time, with skilled artistry, creating the visual ignition to hit the exact spot of the truth beneath appearances, so that the viewer bursts into laughter.
In the current climate of political and financial uncertainty, it is easy for the arts and all things creative to get pushed aside, dismissed, or taken off the agenda altogether. Much has been said about the potential impact of doing this within the education sector, in the arts sector and on creative enterprises of all sorts, as funding continues to be cut. I don’t believe we can afford to underestimate the potential of creativity.
Creativity and expression are vital for a healthy society, as well as a healthy economy. I’d go further than that and say, not just vital for the health of these, but for their very survival. Creativity is the seed pod of innovation. Without innovation, there is stagnation. Innovation adds vital value to both a business and a society.
Being creative means thinking outside the box, asking “what if…?”, being brave enough to question the status quo and use a new perspective to come up with novel solutions.
Creativity is a crucial factor to business success, yet the arts; the main forge of creativity and creative thinking, are still seen by many, as superfluous in financially tricky times.
“”Shakespeare” spells ruin but “legs” mean dividends.”
According to Daniel Pink, in his book, A Whole New Mind. Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future, we are living in the age of creativity. We have had the Agricultural Age of farmers, the Industrial Age of factory workers, and are moving beyond the Information Age of knowledge workers to what he describes as the latest stage of Economic Development; the Conceptual Age of creatives and empathisers. He argues that creativity; right brain empathy, inventiveness and understanding are the skills most needed in business because they give you a competitive advantage by adding value to your service or product and differentiating your business from the competition.
And contrary to popular belief, creativity is something that can be learned. It is a way of thinking and behaving and is a skill that can be developed by anyone, with practice and discipline. The Arts naturally train you to generate innovative ideas, through making unusual associations, questioning common wisdom, observing carefully and finding new ways of doing things, being open to different ideas and perspectives, and experimenting; all key behaviours that prime the brain for discovery, breakthrough and innovation. Cartoonists are brilliantly skilled at this, as is clearly (and literally) illustrated in these collected Fun in Theatre Land cartoons.
So let’s get out there, try something new, push the boundaries of our assumptions, start questioning, open up to different ideas and perspectives, see some art, experience some interactive theatre, do something unorthodox, collect inspiring images, be alert to fragments of insight and inspiration, as it is precisely all these seemingly random, rich dots of experience, information and knowledge that combine in unusual new ways that lead to the original solutions and innovation that business, the economy and society so needs.
“No help from the audience please!”
Reading Fun in Theatre Land is a great place to start the process! It will, at the very least, make you laugh. Or, if you know a comedy loving theatre-goer, this handsome volume would make a magnificent and unique gift. It is available for £27.50 online or from our Darwin Rare Books room. For the price of one theatre ticket, it promises weeks and weeks of amusement, and could kick start some important creative thinking into action!
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