April 13, 2005
Jaell: You have really taken a lot of initiative for our project and have generated a lot of ideas about the play as a whole as well as details and individual characters. Also, thanks for being proactive when it comes to organizing the group schedules and setting up meetings. You have really helped people stay on track.
Andrew: As the director, Andrew you have been very willing to listen to everyone's ideas and input. Thank you for having a larger vision and taking others input before you make the final decision.
Denise: Thank you for helping to stay on track during our meeting. You had good and helpful suggestions without getting side tracked or getting too caught up in little details at this point.
Allison: You really generated good ideas about how to convey the mood of our scene, especially with your music suggestions and blocking ideas.
Sean: thank you for bring a lot of energy to the group. I think your enthusiasm about the play will really help us convey this lighthearted and silly production effectively for our audience, in addition to the deeper messages of the play.
April 6, 2005
Clurman: The Spine. I think the spine of our play is people's obsession with analyzing. Everything has to have a reason, there is a cause, a solution, a treatment, a cure for everything and if there is not a constant cycle of cause and effect than something is wrong. Everything must keep moving; nothing can sit still or just be. Analysis - everything must be figured out.
Schechner: The Environment. Well, I haven't seen the space we are using yet, but I think we will be running more along the lines of traditional theatre -- i.e. not a found environment. I think the environment that we create should reflect/reiterate the complex web of connections between the characters. This will both reinforce the dynamics for the actors as well as for the audience. The idea of multiple and local focuses might be especially helpful for our play.
Bogart: Entering. I have never been good about being decisive and taking a stand, making the decision. However, I realize it is time to leap. Since there will be no suspense for the audience – they will know all, know who is who and doing what – the tension must come from the characters lack of knowledge. They should act as though they are holding back, and taking it in all seriousness; the comedy will follow without trying to be funny. I don’t know if this is really the idea of entering, but that’s all I’ve got at this point.
Jones: The Physical. One thing that strikes me about this play is that it is about mind games and social rolls. I think the physical aspects of the performance should reinforce this. Not to try to over complicate the set, but I think the surprises of the text must not be hinted to by the set. The scene will appear as simple, straightforward, but when it is put into action, there are unexpected twists. For example, with the pool idea, I think it has to be subtle so that there is not one big glaring element present throughout the whole play, waiting to be used – the audience must not think about it until it comes into play.
March 31, 2005
The first article - "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" - had many interesting ideas, but I am not convinced of how true they are in real life and how often they really play out. While I do agree that people care about how they appear to others and the relative relationship that everyone has to everyone else does exist, I do not agree with the idea that this is the overriding universal constant truth of all human interact. In some instances, yes, but I think a lot less energy goes into this type of superficial interaction than Goffman implies. I don't feel that life is just one big game of chess.
I was more inclined to agree with the points of "An Actor Prepares." What I really found interesting (and that in my experience seem to ring true) was the notions of what a successful performance - or rather presentation - is and how to get there. Though I have little acting experience, as I was reading it, I was reminded of my martial arts experiences. The idea of not thinking, but just being, just being in the moment (or in the character) so that what you are doing is real and is true is what really makes a performance successful, both on a personal level and for the audience. But before that stage can be reached, constant practice and continual evolution and growth must occur. The "act" becomes engrained so that you do not have to think about what you are doing -- and in fact you cannot think about what you are doing, it is just intuitive, you are just focused and present in the moment. I have experienced this in doing martial arts forms before and at these moments when I am not thinking about anything but am just completely focused, but not at anything in particular --- I am most successful at these moments.
I also find that there is truth in the immediacy and urgency of the moment that was expressed in "The Grotowski Sourcebook." When you are really experiencing something, you do not think about what you should do, you just react and feel and act and there is no way to anticipate ahead of time what will happen or be felt. I think if this kind of immediacy can be transferred to acting than it will make it much more "real" and less like an "act."
March 1, 2005
2 plays, 2 endings
One idea that really struck me in "Brecht on Theatre" was the idea that education never ends. People are always learning new things and changing how they think, act, and behave based on what they see and experience. No one can ever have "seen it all" and there is always room for change. This idea gives me a lot of hope for society, because if people always have the capacity to change, than so does society. However, this also puts a burden on theatre and other catalysis for change. Responsibility comes with the ability to influence; responsibility to know what it is that is being portrayed and to strive to do good and not damage with the art that is being displayed.
One concept that I had trouble with is understanding how it is that the "A-effect" works. I don't understand how the appearance to the audience would differ as it is a "copy" and not just "regular" acting. The process that the actors must go through (of talking in the 3rd person, past tense, and reading stage directions aloud) in order to not fully become the character they are playing makes sense to me that it would work at least in the rehearsal, but how this would actually translate on to the stage as a spectacle for the audience is still very hazy for me.
February 16, 2005
I think Stage Blood is a very effective comic version of Hamlet. In order to achieve this, it just changes the circumstances slightly and it can no longer be taken seriously by the audience. When it suddenly becomes tragedy in "inappropriate" situations, it looses the tragic component and can be nothing else but funny. It plays on what we as a society see as situations that are naturally funny; for example, a toilet -- even with the head of a corpse in it, it is still funny. By just slightly tweaking the conventions and understanding the symbolism and what objects are usually associated with what, a great tragedy can be turned into a great comedy. Another aspect, I think, is the fact that none of the characters really seem to treat it as a tragedy. They are not devastated by the "tragic" events; they just bounce back with another twist in the plot, ready to move onto the next thing. They play into clichés constantly and over exaggerate them so that they become an integral part of the comedy and not just an annoying overused side bar.
February 10, 2005
I am going to compare "the Laramie Project" to the Hamlet plays we read. In some ways, both of these texts are very similar and yet they are also fundamentally different and hence convey very different meanings. As far as time goes, they both seem to have somewhat of a disconnect from reality; as the events of the play do not unfold in "real time" and time does not pass at a constant rate. However, while in Laramie Project everything is retrospective and reflective, in Hamlet the play is portraying the present actions. In other words, in the Laramie Project, the audience and all of the characters already know the plot so to speak -- they already know, because everything has already happened. In this way, there is not suspense or the element of surprise of action, but rather the emotions and thoughts take on a more prominent roll. In Hamlet, on the other hand, nothing is known ahead of time. Right up until the very end of the play, there is suspense and the element of the unknown at work. In this way, the action plays more of a central roll because it is the action that is unknown. This is not to say that the characters are unimportant or that emotions and words play an insignificant roll; on the contrary, the characters develop and emotions unfold before the audience. I think this also touches on the fact that Hamlet is structured in a way so that the audience really is observing the play (behind the "forth wall"), while in the Laramie Project, the audience is connected to the play because of the fact that it is portraying very contemporary and recent and real events. The stories in the Laramie Project are real, and so the play is just as, if not more effective, in conveying its message by being more open and honest with the viewer and not by just "acting."
I think both of these plays reflect the time that they were created in and for. The traditional structure of Hamlet was all that was accepted and expected at the time. It told its story form an insider’s perspective because that is who would know and see it. The Laramie Project, on the other hand, recognizes and revolves around the fact that modern technology allows nearly everyone to know the facts and events of nearly everywhere instantly. So the event itself was not what was important or being shown because everyone already knew the facts. The Laramie Project attempted to bring the stories and emotions behind the facts to the world audience; it wanted to show what didn't fit into the media sound bit.
February 1, 2005
I think Sophocles wanted to force people to look at their own lives through his play Oedipus Rex. Though on the surface, the tragedy would seem to draw no parallels to the lives of any audience members, on a subconscious level I think it forces people to examine themselves and their actions. Though Oedipus committed unthinkable crimes, the play is not written in such a way that Oedipus is the "bad guy." In stead, the audience is made to feel sorry for him (which is what makes the story a tragedy), because after all, he did not know what it was that he did. He did not know until too late that he had fulfilled the prophecy that he had worked for so long to avoid and had so long dread. However, at the same time, he is not completely free of guilt. He was still shortsighted and short-tempered enough that he did kill. He was quick to blame and quick to jump to conclusions and quick to act. These qualities caused him to take the actions that he came to regret. I think these qualities of human nature are what really force the spectator to draw parallels to their own lives, however remote they may be, and invokes and sense of guilt and foreboding. Though it is also clear that fate also plays a prominent roll, Oedipus himself is partly responsible because of his flawed human character. No one can be without flaws and I think this is part of the point that Sophocles is trying to make; you cannot beat or avoid fate, but at the same time, it is through your own actions and inevitable shortcomings that you will chose the course of your life. Fate is not solely responsible, our actions and decisions also play a roll. This duality with fate and conscious decision making can be, I think, a more frightening prospect than either by itself. You have no control over what will ultimately come to be, but you still have the power to act and make decisions that will make the inevitable a reality. I think Oedipus does a very good job of forcing the audience to examine their own lives in this light without explicitly stating any of this.
January 27, 2005
Quotes for 1/27/05
Quotes: “There’s so much space between people and towns here, so much time for reflection” -- The Laramie Project, page 6
“‘Too Much Light’ …is like an entire Fringe Festival condensed into one show, the theatrical equivalent of channel surfing. As such it is the ideal entertainment for an audience with eclectic taste and a rapidly shrinking attention span.” -- “Don’t Blink: You May Miss the Show”
I think these two quotes convey an interesting contrast between “city life” and “country/town life.” The city is seen as the fast pace, always moving, always busy being efficient and producing something, full of life, but devoid of direction. Chaos defines city life and meaning is lost. Everything happens and but before anything can sink in or settle, attention has shifted to something else. I think this is part of what the quote from “Don’t Blink” suggests. The country, on the other hand, is seen as an empty space. A place where so little occurs that everyone knows about everything and the slow pace means that analysis and reflection is always possible. The rural life moves at a slower pace, but there is more depth and meaning. I don’t think that either city life or country life are solely defined and limited to these stereotypes about them, but I do think there is a certain amount of validity to and truth in these portrayals.
No matter how much truth is in these statements, I think it provides an interesting reference point for theatre. I think most people have these notions about the differences between city and country life -- though often it is about the life that they don’t have that they hold the most images of. I think if you live in the city you are more likely to see the country as slow moving, even if you don’t feel that city life is really all that fast and meaningless as is implied (and vice versa). So for theatre, these stereotypes of the audience (and the producers of the play) must be recognized and can either be supported or contradicted, in either the subject or the structure. In the “Too Much Light” play, the image of the fast paced, short attention span, inability to go into depth view of city life was the bases for the structure and format of the play. The idea of it being the “theatrical equivalent of channel surfing” is very intriguing. It really is pushing the envelope and challenging traditional ideas of theatre, perhaps in a way it is trying to modernize it in order to keep it alive in the technological world that we live in today. I think theatre still has the ability to hold its own today, even in a more traditional format, but the manipulation that “Too Much Light” has done will, at a minimum, have more draw for a particular type of viewer. On the other hand, The Laramie Project recognizes these views in the subject rather than the structure of the play. I don’t know what direction it is going to take this basis of understanding of lifestyle, but it is beginning by at least drawing a distinction between city and town life.
As far as reflection goes, I think there is much more that occurs in city life than the quotes acknowledge. I have always lived in the city so I do not know what it is like to live in a rural setting and cannot make an informed comparison. However, I do know that city life is not so fast paced that it is the equivalent of a life of channel surfing. There is reflection time in city life, but I do agree that space makes reflection easier. I think both space and reflection are important to have, no matter where you live.