Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A-Z challenge: Plays

So a slight change: instead of writing about poltergeists, I will write about plays. It came down to what I knew a little more about and after the day I've had, going the easy route is pretty attractive.


I waver on the purpose of a play, on the purpose of theatre. A play is at it's base level  a communal, primal thing. We are engaging in an ages old ritual when we sit down as a group and are told a story. It's part of the cultural heritage of being human. Early playwrights were probably those around the campfire entertaining their family with shadows on the wall.

I think this ritualised story aspect is one of the things that attracts me to theatre. That when we enter a theatrical space we are engaging in a ritual. We find our seat, we sit down, we talk to our neighbours and then there is a change that catches our attention. The lights fade to black, the audience excitedly quietens and then the curtain opens, say or a performer takes the stage. That moment before the action starts when an audience is hushed is magical. We are preparing to enter another place, somewhere that triggers our imaginations.

Harvey Pekar, the comics writer, said a great thing about comics that can almost be applied to theatre, "Comics are words and pictures, you can do anything with words and pictures". Change the word 'pictures' to 'actions' and it becomes a pretty good fit.

You can go along way on a blank stage. Two kids in front of a GI Joe bedsheet can retell the star wars films to their friends and create exploding planets and great starships moving through the void using words and actions.

A thought I had was to do a Matrix stage show. That all of the miraculousness of the films could be conveyed in character's reportage. Making the audience come along.

The line

MORPHEUS: Don't look down, Neo.

creates a certain image, that even those few who haven't seen the film can immediately grasp.

You couldn't literally have the fight scenes, or the bullet time, or the jumping. The trick would be to somehow create the breathless belief that those things caused in the film. We don't need to see Neo jump the gap, we simply need to believe that he can.

Back to the Mongoose. I need to really think about what I want to convey on the stage. At the moment everything is a samey 'one or two people in the void expositioning a little'. I've not given much time to thinking about how the story (story?) will be told. Which I must do if I'm to move forward.


Tomorrow: Quilting, of all things.

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