Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Working in a Group: Week One

So. Our group met for the first time on Sunday afternoon and I think it was hard for me to articulate my ideas/visions. I'm sure you guys got that impression. Still random ideas will float into my head and there's nothing I can do about it. As for individual insights, I have to say that I liked what Jackie had to say about costuming and that it doesn't have to be elaborate to make a point. Simple togas will be representative of our spine. Our director, Alyssa, helped me to understand that I don't need to know exactly everything thats going to happen, and that we can experiment as we go to come up with the perfect effect. I think Prince was in general good humored and bravely took on the part of the only male in our production:) Emily was a little concerned about her part as the dramaturg, but she seemed willing to work and maybe when we get further along she will have a better direction to go in.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Midsummer Nights Dream

Our group will be performing the play within a play (Pyramus/Thisbe) scene from the Act V, Scene I in Shakespeare's a Midsummer Night's Dream. When reading through what Clurman had to say about the spine of a play a thought that came to my head regarding my scene. I really think that the spine of our play is about "desperate love". The fact that this is sort of a tragic thing which is made humorous in this instance should, I think, remain the focus for working with this scene. We must remember how very tragic this is for the lovers, and thus how funny it is for the rest of the audience.
The fact that this scene is a play within a play suggests that the space be used in a similar and conventional manner. However, there is also the perspective that the audience has of seeing a play that the characters on stage are seeing as well. This dual viewing could also be used in our performance.
I would like us to enter in to our production with an open mind. Because this scene has been staged so many times it becomes natural that one would think there was a correct way to do it. Rather, we should make decisions based on what we are trying to convey to the audience and not mind whether it's been done before.
I think the energy for our play will be most dependant on how we present this to the audience, because badly presented it will not deliver the desired affect. Specifically the space that we work in will determine this.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Actor

These readings were perhaps the most complicated view I've ever experienced concerning acting. I realize I never actually knew what acting was, but only what I thought it should be because of preconceptions of acting cliches. All three readings sort of confused me and made me think really hard about what acting was. The one that hit home the most was Stanislavsky's "An Actor Prepares". I had never realized how false and unknowing my own acting was. I act partly like Sonya, with a wish for everybody to see me and my ability, and less for the sake of the character and art. I have always struggled with a desire to prove myself, and I realize how wrong that is. It only fosters competition and self-interest, instead of focus on character. What I now wonder is: how does one go about "living the part"? It seems there are far too many pitfalls and cliches to ever accomplish a pure form.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Stage Blood

Wow! What a clever idea! I started this play, and was not very impressed with... I don't know what, maybe the dialogue, maybe the subject matter, simply because I thought it was a little depressing talking about an acting company where the head is a drunk, they have no Ophelia, and everything seems to be going to shit. And then you catch on to how clever the Hamlet parallel is. The more I read, the more I thought, wow, what a cool idea for a plot, for a play! The only thing I don't get (and maybe I wouldn't get this from simply reading the play) was what was supposed to be funny about it? It's a pretty dark comedy, and I do like dark comedy (Death to Smootchy) but this seemed more ironic than funny. Anyway, that is just my initial response.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Hamlet, Speedy Hamlet, and Oed

Ah, Hamlet. Buddy old pal. We meet again. And you're still pretending to be crazy. Or are you? Your uncle is still disgusting, your mother, "Frailty, thy name is woman" and Ophelia's sanity is questionable. The most fascinating part of looking at Hamlet, compared with the Fifteen Minute text, and also compared to Oedipus Rex is considering ambiguity in characterization and plot.
Compared with Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, in both forms, is amazingly ambiguous. In Oedipus the characters, the plot and the main drive of the play is clearly presented, while in Hamlet there are so many double meanings, so many instances where you're not quite sure what is going on. For example, is Hamlet putting on an act in front of the King and Ophelia by acting crazy, or is he really losing his mind? In Oedipus Rex the characters and the plot is clearly presented. It is very straight forward. The same holds true for the setting. It takes place in only one location, thus the audience doesn't question, "Okay, where are we now?"
Reading the fifteen minute version was actually very humorous for me. I can't believe how much was left out. Knowing all the details inbetween the lines as well as the action, I knew what was going on, but I wonder how someone who had never read the play would see it. I think there is much more room for interpretation of lines, when there are fewer of them. It goes back to ambiguity, and in this case, many of these lines (whose meanings are questioned when reading the long version) could have so many meanings as to change the whole tone of the play.
In general, I like the long version best, simply because it has more insight to characters and more of the details that Shakespeare included in his performances.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Fate vs Control

After reading Sophocle's Oedipus Rex I believe that the central message he was trying to communicate to his audience was that no matter what steps humans take to try and avoid the dire predictions of soothsayers, no one will be able to escape the fate destined to them. The audience in Sophocle's time would have believed and derived this meaning out of the play: that the gods are omnipotent and through the twistings of fate, what they want will come to pass. Sophocles raises this issue by showing the doubts that Jocasta has towards the fortune tellers, and by Oedipus's refusal to accept the truth. Their doubts are later highlighted by irony as they find that everything they scoffed at was true. The dramatic twist in this plot leading to something so horrible and improbable that it must be impossible is what makes the message of this play that much more convincing: that the will of the gods cannot be overcome by the actions of humans.

This is what I believe Sophocle's message was. However today I think an audience could derive an entirely different meaning from the play. The message to a modern audience would be to ignore fortune tellers' propheses because if you try to avoid them, it will only come back on you. If Laius and Jocasta had simply kept their child then common sense dictates he would have had no desire to kill his father and marry his mother. Only by trying to be rid of this evil event, did they cause the prophesy to come true. However, this is only what a modern audience might think, because they live without the superstition and beliefs of the ancient world.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Theatricality and On Stage Blog

Our readings for this week really interested me, but none more than the dictionary terms. Strange, isn't it? I was so amazed that theatre was so complex. I'm used to the acting, producing aspect with not much thought to the background. I loved reading the part about Theatricality. It's a hard concept to understand but I loved the part that said, "...a text is theatrical when it cannot stand on its own." That really brought it all together for me. I loved hearing descriptions for something that is almost indescribable.
The second part that really interested me was reading about "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind". It is such a great idea for a production, and I really wish I could see it now. I especially like the fact that, "Since cast members build shows around their own break-ups, feelings of depression or idiosyncratic theories about life, the show can occasionally feel like a clever and deeply felt blog performed onstage." The randomness, the audience involvement is really fun, but I like the fact that everyday occurances are put into humorous, or not so humorous skits that last about as long as they do in real life. I almost want to drive to Chicago just to see this.