The Otiose Aesthetic

by Nigel O'Hearn

o·ti·ose  (o- she-os, Latin otiosus- idle, from otium, leisure.) adj. 1. Lazy; indolent. 2. Of no use. 3. Ineffective; futile. see synonyms of “vain.”

Aesthetic n. 1. Critical reflection on art, culture and nature. 2. Related to axiology, a branch of philosophy dedicated to the “study of value”, and is closely associated with the philosophy of art. 3. Aesthetics studies new ways of seeing and of perceiving the world.


The formative sketches of a larger collection published here on my theatre company’s website, The Otiose Aesthetic hopes to study the presence and function of the theatrical event in contemporary America, deconstruct the event as it currently operates to diagnose why it currently operates, and from that diagnosis, initiate new economic and philosophical principles that challenge the consumer-centric and socially-segregated atmosphere I believe the American theatrical institution has operated under since its inception.


In keeping with the spirit of the building process, whose only necessary component is the freedom present in the acts of calculated deconstruction, tangential excursion, recapitulation, and reconsideration, this series will exist as a living document: I will post an argument (or view point or anecdote or whatever) in a master document, and constantly reshape and add to the argument based on the discussion in the forum that will hopefully spring from every post.

Uncovering a collective agreement or convincing anyone of my version of “the way things should work” are not the concern (though my posts will be stance-driven and argumentative in tone); A constantly thoughtful process is the concern.

The perfect imitation of a set of criteria resembling what we recognize as art, the ability to convince a population that what you have done is art, or the reaching of a “perfect” statement of truth is not what touches us; the “truth,” the thing itself, doesn’t have the capacity to. The search for the truth and our innumerable failures and frustrations in the perpetually momentary pursuit of the truth are what sweeten, illuminate, and confirm the act of being alive.


To keep the discourse from the servile dogma frequently prevalent in works that implicitly or explicitly insist on one possible, true theatrical mode, I’ll endeavor to stay away from ridicule of practices/productions/techniques/scripts I find vain or otiose. I will frequently fail at this, as I am naturally given to the overconfidence, arrogance, and naivety common in the need to quantify.

As a rule, I’ll also try to stick away from profanity: not out of diffidence for offense, but because verbal superfluity is the gateway and walkway of bigotry.

How’s that for arrogant?


However, in order to stimulate a communal discourse, I encourage any and all responses to these posts, be they in direct opposition to me or my ideas on the theatre, and I encourage them in any language you feel best communicates your view.


Continue to the Otiose Aesthetic