Suppose when cloning becomes the norm, an enterprising biologist with an eye to entertainment will clone three icons of Hollywood, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart, along with William Shakespeare for dramatic support. Anticipating high demand, he will make 10,000 copies of them. Naturally, modern day Hollywood would only take a few sets of these folks, with the rest distributed to towns across the land where they will spend their evenings putting on shows at the local little theater, with newly scripted plays by Bill Shakespeare such as ‘Romeo and Ethyl, the Pirate’s Daughter’. This of course would revive the local theater scene, and give lots of inspiration for other playwrights, actors, and supporting crews.
Coming to your little theater!
In this case, high quality will stimulate high demand, but does high demand stimulate high quality? In economics, this works not just for burgers and cars, but for artistry as well. As history attests, you can be sure of it. All of the renaissances in history were provincial affairs, supported by the local citizenry who in eras where entertainment had to be home grown, turned to local talent, and created the local venues where it could be encouraged. And so were created the Athenian amphitheater, the Globe and Rose theatres in Shakespearean London, and Vienna opera house in Mozart’s day. And with high demand, genius soon followed, and with it a supporting cast that would put envy in our trio of stars.
Genius by nature is a rare thing, and to get there you must make demand universal where a thousand flowers must bloom before a single rose amongst them stands tall. And to do it you need not import it from a faraway factory farm but a local pasture, well tilled, and with an encouragement to flower.
Renaissances depend ultimately on demand, from ticket sales to commissions from Kings. A good example among many is Shakespeare, who in his times was no solitary voice, and his audience was not a continent or a nation, but a decrepit little city. Indeed, London in the late 16th century had the population of Jackson, Mississippi, and the life style of Lagos, Nigeria. A nasty place to be sure, yet bereft of entertainment, local playhouses soon became the Netflix of the day, and with them lots of dross, and a diamond of two in the rough.
For example, in Shakespeare’s day, “In two weeks during the 1596 season a Londoner could have seen eleven performances of ten different plays at one playhouse, and on no day would he have had to see a repeat performance of the day before…Playwriting had quickly become a growth industry and a profession. Of the twelve hundred plays offered in London theaters in the half century after 1590, some nine hundred were the work of about fifty professional playwrights.”[i]
[i]Boorstin, D. (1992) The Creators. New York: Random House