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Showing posts from October 30, 2005

The "I Wish I'd Said That" Department

The nature writer Barry Lopez was on the UNC - Asheville campus several weeks ago, and while I didn't have the opportunity to hear him speak, a local newspaper article quoted some of his words that had special resonance for the things I have been exploring lately.

He said that everywhere he traveled, he asked people about the meaning of the word they used for storyteller, and his favorite was from the Inuit: "It means, roughly translated, 'person who creates the atmosphere in which wisdom reveals itself.' The idea is that we are already aware, but if a writer gives a structure or atmosphere that can remind us of the wisdom we already have, that helps."

What a wonderful definition! The storyteller isn't wiser than his audience, but rather is able to evoke and remind the audience of the wisdom that is already within them. The storyteller doesn't create meaning, but rather creates an atmosphere in which meaning is revealed. Now, that is a positive, vibran…

On Directing

Way back on November 1st, George Hunka asked a series of questions about directors:

How do they see themselves as creative artists? How would they articulate what they bring to a script? Where does interpretation end and their own emotional creativity begin? What do they look for in a script, by a living or a dead playwright, and how do they know that they have something to say themselves through putting those words on the stage? And then, how do they do so? What is the arc of their own creative, intellectual, emotional, psychic work through the production process?

I was very flattered to be included as someone who should respond to this, but have been too busy this week to respond. Even now, I will have to keep it short, as I am about ready to leave for the North Carolina Theatre Conference Gathering to recruit theatre students and talk about my play analysis book. Isaac does an amazing and articulate job answering George's query, and I feel all that is necessary from me is a littl…

Church Model: Another Example

From Tim, who posts in the comments section:

I'm intrigued by your "Attempt at Synthesis" ideas, particularly because parts of it have been tried before -- and worked. You mentioned that we should think of theatre as an "alliance" or a "guild." How about a "troupe?"

I was a member of an improv comedy troupe. We owned our own theatre space, which was indeed open to the public when shows weren't happening. We taught comedy defensive driving there. We opened the space to corporate offsites. People came in, learned about our shows, came back that night.Members of the troupe were available to speak at businesses. You could hire us to put on a show at your grandchild's birthday party. You met the artistic director in the lobby before the show. You could mingle with the troupe at the bar after the show. Audience members were loyal, came back a lot, often ended up auditioning for the troupe.

Best of all, we weren't stuck doing improv all th…

More on Truth

George Hunka writes:

I don't know about that "truth," Scott, as something that we as artists are the sole bearers of, or whether that's even the way in which "truth" inheres in our experience. Is it not in the process itself rather than in anything we can tape up on the wall next to our computers? And isn't the theatrical communion a process of experience, by its very nature ephemeral--something that can't be written down?If our theater does not do BOTH--adhere and explore traditions, as well as adhere and explore ourselves, to go places where we haven't been experientially, to think thoughts we've been afraid to think or express (and in this is the risk)--it will be dead and remain so. Our technique forms the discipline we need to communicate these otherwise formless, and therefore sloppy and self-serving, messages. Truth? I don't think so. A new way of thinking about ourselves, a new process with which our consciousness can contemplate …

Risking Truth

George Hunka over at Superfluities has a nice post about theatre criticism, and what theatre artists should be doing in order to raise the level of theatre criticism. He concludes:

I'm not saying at all that most theater artists don't take their task seriously, but when I look at the me-too-ism of so many seasons previewed in the last issue of American Theatre, where comfortable ersatz-Ibsenite realism continues to be all the rage (so long as there's a children's theater program to go with it, as well as a familiar Shakespeare like A Midsummer Night's Dream and a Christmas Carol adaptation), I wonder if we playwrights, directors and actors wouldn't benefit by paying heed to Michael Coveney's call to critics: "... let's hear it once more for experience, knowledge and seriousness. ... What is needed is a new group of younger critics [here, read artists] who will combine the enthusiasm of the aficionado with the rigour of the informed taskmaster."…

A Few Questions from Matt Freeman About the New Model

Matt Freeman asks a couple good questions in response to my attempt at a new model for theatre based on church. He asks:

'Another question I have for this new model is "Would it be sustainable to support Equity Actors?"

I think there are two questions here. One is: will Actors Equity support this model? My gut response is: no. Actors Equity is mired in an industrial model of theatre production that was needed in the past, but that has become hopelessly rigid in today's circumstances. It regards theatre not as an art, but as an industry. The effect of Equity on the theatre is a much larger question, and perhaps a later discussion.

The second question might be: would it be sustainable to support actors (and directors and playwrights and designers). I don't know. It might. What I do know is that the current model doesn't provide sustainable support for Equity actors. A review of the annual report from equity shows that most Equity actors are underemployed, and maki…