May 5, 2005
This is the End
All good things must come to an end, 1101 being no exception. That said, for the benefit of my final presentation group, I would like to reflect on their contributions, strenghts, and the group dynamic.
Sean was instrumental in the text selection process. His immeadiate relation to the character Freddie led me to be certain that Reverse Pyschology was the right play for us. He was able to utilize his great physical energy and creative mind to really pull off a unique character-and he looks good in a dress.
Allison did a marvelous job with a gender she had never been before. I was impressed at her ability to improvise during the rehearsal process leading to much of her own blocking, and establish herself as man without laughing as she had the rest of the cast draped around her.
Lara provided a tremendous amount of effort, both in tackling a role that had the most difficult and embarrasing lines, and in her work with design. As the director I was lost on the process for the artistic touch, and Lara fit the bill perfectly, helping to establish much of the background and props, all while pulling off a great "Lilith Crane" physchiatrist.
Denise was destined for Eleanor. Her intitial enthusiasm for the character led me to feel comfortable about our text selection. She made my job easy, always being prepared and bringing almost palpable energy to the rehearsal. Denise inspired me to continue to push the physicality of our performance.
Jaell was the glue that held this production together. I could go on about her ability to organize, schedule, and keep me in line but that would be just scratching the surface. Jaell was crucial to the script development process creating a 15 minute story where we really needed an hour, and doing it while maintaing the humor and "ridiculous"nature of Ludlam; he would have been proud of her re-write.
The group together worked extremely well, despite difficult schedules for all involved. The creativity from this group oozed out of every rehearsal and became more focused as the play evolved. Leading up to what I consider a successful and rewarding final production. Thank you, group, I was honored to work with you all.
March 2, 2005
You Brecht It, You Buy IT
The writings of Brecht provide considerable insight into the nature of both the question of what is theatre; and also what is culture. They also explore how those questions are reflected in society.
The most conceptually abstract writing, "Short Description of a New Technique of Acting which Produces and Alienation Effect", afforded me a new argument of an idea that that I support, despite the obvious break with convention. That is the idea of the dropping the assumption of the fourth wall. Being both a student of solo performance and a lover of comedy, I find that involving the audience directly creates an experience with few parellels in live performance. Though I understand that this idea would not work with much theatre, it does provide a certain spontaniety to the performance that could otherwise be impossible.
The idea that I found questionable was Brechts' assumption that the image of the world created by a play "weakens the good instincts and strengthens the bad, it contradicts true experience and spreads misconceptions, in short it perverts our picture of the world." Brecht's example of the movie "Gunga Din" highlighting this theory by its' characterization of Indian people directly refutes that theory. Though I don't doubt that his idea is often true, he himself recognized the movies characterization was false and was quick to confirm it personally. I do understand that much of his writing was before these more culturaly sensitive and global times, when international racism and the struggle of classes was impossible to avoid; particularly for an exile such as himself.
February 16, 2005
I found "Stage Blood" to be fairly pedestrian in terms of comedy. I believe that this play would be considerably more enjoyable if I could see the performance, much like what we had discussed last week. I also recognize that once my theatre vocabulary grows, I will appreciate some of the references used in the text more fully. Still, it was a light and fun piece to read and did make an excellent paradoy of "Hamlet". The reason I believe this tragedy works so well as a comedy was explained by Branislav in today's lecture; the very nature of comedy is to reverse tragedy. Here we have a "Hamlet"- style tragedy in the making, made ever more tenuous by the coincidental setting. Ultimately, the entire thing turns out to be a hoax, reversing all the misfortune that had befallen the troop. The other appeal as a comedy is the actual parody of "Hamlet" itself, juxtaposed with "serious" actors and practical jokes for bits of brevity.
February 2, 2005
Central Theme to Oedipus
It appears that Sophocles' main idea in writing the story of Oedipus was to communicate the tragic irony that can befall even those who seem secure in their sense of self.
It is evident from the beginning that Oedipus is very self confident and quite certain of both his place in society as he is of his origins; "I myself have come hither, Oedipus, famous among all men". He addresses the city and confidently assures them that the reason for their troubles, the murder of the ruler Laius, would be solved. As he hears of the story from Delphi given to him by Creon, he listens intently and publicly swears to bring the murderers of Laius to justice. Thus begins the theme of irony, as Oedipus continues to come closer to the reality of Laius' murder, the irony increases. Oedipus is seemingly absolved when he learns of his fathers death by nature instead of his own hand, than another twist implicates him yet again, showing him his father was someone else. In the dramatic climax, Oedipus begins to learn that what he knew of himself and his life was false, and a cathartic moment is at hand. Ulitmately, it was Creon, who is blind, who had more vision than Oedipus, who in a final ironic twist, gains his vision only after he destroys his eyes.
January 27, 2005
Thoughts on readings for week 1
"The notion of a fixed code is replaced by that of a hermeneutical hypothesis or an operating/ deciphering tool."- Pavis's Dictionary of Theatre
"Besides and embrace of chance, the compan's other essential philosphical tenet is never to ask the audience to suspend its sense of disbelief."- New York Times: "Don't Blink: You Might Miss the Show"
The first passage is my response to the pompous- over acedemic nature of the Pavis dictionary. I chose that passage because I recognized the erudite nature of the reading (which I typically enjoy) and wanted to understand every bit. I believe that I have a tremendous vocabulary yet, I was stymied on two words. Veresimilitude I found in the dictionary, however, hermeneutical was not even turned up on a Google search...This passage really made me consider the depth of this course of study.
The second passage was a correlation based on the context of heremeneutical, which was used somehow to describe convention. What I find unique about the statement was despite the introduction to convention and artists actively employing the idea of suspension of disbelief, this company is parting with that idea as much as possible and still churning out theatre. This idea exemplifies Branislav's comments on what theatre is and what it can be or rather "What theatre isn't"