Saturday, December 30, 2006

METATHEATRE

For lack of a better word. If there is a better word, someone please educate me!

What I mean here is a theatre experience that encompasses and includes the audience in the proceedings. A "fourth-wall" breaker.

Examples: A Company of Wayward Saints, murder mystery dinners, The Victorian Hotel [http://www.rogueartists.org/projects/victorianhotel.php], Director's Cut, etc.

"Meta" as in "transcending."

I'm thinking "metatheatre" like "metafiction" and "metaverse." An all-emcompassing experience.

So that's the term, and what it means to me.

It's a fascinating form to be a part of, let me tell you! It's immersive for the audience, and a challenge for the performer. It requires an ability to improvise, yet keep things moving in the direction of a predetermined narrative.

So how the hell do you write for it? I know how my friend Pete [www.thepete.com] wrote for it with Director's Cut. And I've read A Company of Wayward Saints a few times. both of those examples are pretty linear ... how do you write for a show that has three or four scenes going on simultaneously in different spaces?

Hrm. Not much theatre/playwriting theory in this blog entry.

3 comments:

Andrew Rhodes said...

I have done much work for a company called Comedy Theatre Productions and they make their living with corny/tacky murder mysteries...But they pay. They did have a pretty talented guy working for them writting their stuff. He had a falling out with the owner and started his own company called ant and the grass hopper. Point being, all the scripts I saw coming from them whch I have been in and directed are not really scripts at all. Most of the time they are just outlines. You have set charaters who know a certain peice of the puzzel and they interact with the audience the whole night. Every once in a while there might be a scripted bit of diolouge that can sometimes be called a scene that helps drive the plot forward, or like a good comedy rutiune you can rif off it for a while. They all end up being very comedia delarte. You have a set of stock charaters and actors who know those charaters and how to play them. All of this is run by one lead actor who usually ends up playing the detective for the show. Some times the shows are more scripted but all the coorperate shows are just outlines with charater descriptions and a few scenes that need to happen but can be talked out before the show by the actors doing them. Half the time you are glad to know the people you are doing the show with when you arrive because it makes the night go smoother and you trust them. They have offered me gigs that I have turned down because I found out who else was on that job and didn't want to work with them again.

There are so many outlines out there for these interactive murder mysteries that are utter crap that if a talented person decided to take it upon themselves to write a good one and sell it to the right people he could make a few thousand dollars. They usually buy the scripts for 500-1000 dollars. Again you give away the rights....

Andrew Moore said...

Very interesting. The Commedia connection makes sense. Particulary in the case of "Wayward Saints!" I hadn't thought of that.

On a related note, how scripted is Medieval Times? In particular the games/jousts. Is there a set up so that a particular knight wins?

Andrew Rhodes said...

Ah The Times....The fights are all coreographed and all the knights know who is playing what part before the show starts. The colors don't really matter because it all boils down to who knows what fight. For instance I knew the 1st fight and the 3rd fight. Who ever wins in the first fight will fight in the 3rd fight and in the 3rd fight they kill each other. The guy who looses the first fight (this is the old script) will come back to be the champion and the guy who looses in the second fight will come back to play the black knight unless they have an extra person to just play the black night for that show.
I am not explaining this very well.
My point being, the guys that know the fights can wear any color they want so the winner changes from week to week or however often they want to change it But, the formula for the fights stays the same. Most of the wait staff could tell you who the winner was going to be just by seeing which two colors were in the first fight and who won. I played every color while I was there, but most often I was blue. There are some personalities for the different colors but some of the guys try to play them and some do not, or at least not very well.

The games on the other hand are very real and can get competitive between the knights. God forbid you have a pissy knight because he thinks you scored him unfairly.