Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Absolute

"A man must go forth from where he stands
He cannot jump to the absolute, he must evolve toward it"
- Victor Wooten, The Sojourn of Arjuna

Believe it or not, this is a continuation of my "Music Video" post. I'm getting a little lateral here. Sorry about that, but if you stick with me, this should get interesting.

At the same time I find myself pursuing theatrical thought experiments, trying to figure out how to engage an audience and evoke that "undeniable hunger and thirst" that Peter Brook describes, I find myself giving advice on playwriting shortcuts. You see, I'm of two minds. On one hand, I want to pursue unbridled experimentation and really put some theories to the test. On the other hand, I'm pragmatic enough to know that unbridled experimentation is almost surely doomed to failure more often than success, and theatre is far too expensive an artform (in L.A. in particular) to run the risk of bankrupting any future productions with today's wild hare. (As a libertarian, I'm all-too familiar with the struggle of idealism versus pragmatism.)

The production of Juana I directed last year was perhaps my most unbridled experiment so far, and it was an unmitigated disaster. I am very proud of my cast and crew for doing their best in the face of an impossible play, and I take full responsibility for my part in the debacle. But to be honest, the only thing epic about the production was the level of "fail."

And so I decide to take baby steps towards this ideal (that is, "necessary theatre-going, a.k.a. Immediate Theatre). Part of this process is to identify productions where the ideal is showing through, and to attempt an analysis of what went right. I'm not particularly interested in what went wrong, except to learn from my own mistakes. I can thenn bring these ideal aspects into my own work, and see if I can duplicate the success I perceive. Finally, I take the lessons I've learned, and continue from the beginning of this process.

In short: Identify, analyze, experiment, repeat.

For those of you not as familiar with my theatrical background (and for the love of god, who reads this blog? I'm guessing mom, and the occasional surfer who took a wrong turn at a Google search) in college my wife and I ran a children's theatre company that produced a one-person show written by Allen Partridge entitled Einstein's Quest. The purpose of this play is to teach creative problem solving to children, to wit: "Identify, analyze, experiment, repeat." So yes, I have taken my scientific procedure from a children's play.

To be continued ...

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