Sister Act: The Musical Theatre Bible

Last night I was watching the classic Whoopi Goldberg movie Sister Act. And it struck me, this movie has a lot in similar with the performing arts industry!

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I have often been told at university that marketing in the arts industry should not dictate the artistic process, but should merely find an audience who will appreciate the final product. Well, I think we can do better than that!

All artistic products start with the idea to convey a message to society and then the artistic process becomes a means through which to display this message. Unfortunately, as seen by the nuns in Sister Act, the artistic process of expressing this message can isolate a large amount of society and only reach a select few. However, when a marketing force comes in which understands the characteristic that appeal to new demographics, then the message can be conveyed to a much larger group and society as a whole benefits. Anyway, check out this clip from the movie and I will explain what I mean:

No matter how well the nuns sing those religious hymns in their classical arrangements, they aren’t going to appeal to the youth on the street who would benefit from hearing the message. Enter Deloris van Cartier.

Deloris van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) is a lounge singer. She is well aware of what people want to see and how to engage them – i.e. marketing. So by revamping the original work that contained the powerful message in order to make it appeal to a new audience, the artist is able to better communicate their ideas and benefit a larger portion of society. And look at the end of the movie, their church was filled every week and even the Pope came to visit.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good! The message that they want to spread is heard by more people than ever before.

Okay, yes, it is a movie. And overnight successes like that don’t generally happen overnight in the real world. But it is at least worth looking at how your message can best be conveyed to your audience so that the work (theatre, music, play, art etc.) doesn’t feel out of reach and inspires as many people as possible!

So if you take nothing more away from this article or the movie (or the musical), be fabulous like Deloris van Cartier and revolutionise works so they inspire that largest audience possible. Who knows, troubled youths may stream into your theatre too when they hear the joyous noise from outside!

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