September 23, 2008

Tuesday 09–Sep–08

I have discovered the limtations of a blog; apparently you can't back date anything. Sadly as I have been without the internet for several days I have been unable to publish the last few records so they are all going up at once. This might be a little confusing but it should work out okay.

We started the day with a physical and verbal warm-up. After stretching, we moved onto tongue twisters, for example, ‘All I want is a proper cup of coffee, made in a proper copper coffee pot.’ That particular tongue twister helped us practise the use of plosive consonant sounds. We then practised the phrase whilst walking around the space turning on the start of each line. This enables you to learn how to pace a line.

We then settled down to discuss the script. One major question the play brings up is what is the difference between reality and illusion? To test this out we performed a section of the Director’s speech stepping forward on any lines, which praised the theatre and its illusions and stepping back on any lines, which praised reality. We then measured how far each of us had got which gave insight into how far we thought the Director liked theatre and how much he liked reality. One of the major paradoxes of the character and his philosophy is that he constantly dismisses theatre for being false yet he uses theatrical technique as part of his oration. The Director’s speech has been designed to change people’s opinions and this preparation puts the speech in the realm of performance. If he were speaking in the realm of reality his words would be hurried, improvised and not nearly as powerful as his trained speech. Nothing on stage can be the truth because the minute it becomes a performance it removes itself from real life. Yet this raises the question what is real? If as Shakespeare says ‘Life’s a stage’, then surely nothing is real? Do we indeed act our lives? The Spectators in the play do when they argue with the director. Even the Young Man acts as chorus summarising and commenting on the action.

The Director has an interesting theatrical philosophy. He questions why people go to the theatre. He claims they go to escape the monotony of their lives. So is the theatre a modern opiate for the masses? The Spectator’s claim they go to the theatre to be entertained. Yet the Director maintains the theatre cannot show real life, it can only reflect it. Do the people go to theatre to see life or to escape it?

We then considered where the boundary lies between reality and imagination. In our stage design where a small stage separates the backstage and the auditorium (all three visible to the audience) it asks the question which section is real? The auditorium, the stage or the backstage? There are arguments for each. If you presume you go on-stage pretending to be someone else then surely this is a false environment. Or how about the boundary between the wing and the stage? Is that a boundary between reality and illusion? Your life and the life of the character you are playing? Perhaps there is no clear boundary between reality and imagination. Surely what we imagine is based on what we see and therefore it cannot be possible to move from one to the other so easily. There must be a grey area. I believe this area is the stage, where we take reality and use it to create drama. Or it could be the Lip of the stage? Where the soliloquies are given, a space of direct address, where the actor breaks the fourth wall. Surely there where the actor touches reality whilst still in character is the ultimate expression of reality and illusion blending. Surely the audience is real? Or at least they are not deliberately performing. Is the boundary in fact within the actors themselves? How much of what they do is real to them and how much is fabricated? How far does method acting go? If when the actor performs a part they truly believe it, is this experience as real as when it happens in reality? Is the audience’s behaviour itself a careful performance? Take for example the coded etiquette used by an audience whilst watching a pantomime where they boo the villain, cheer the hero and laugh at the men in drag. Perhaps the boundary between reality and illusion is purely subjective.

the artist and the world (these plays were often impossible to stage) and his Theatre Beneath the Sand, which questioned the nature of hyper-reality on stage and explored experiences beyond the known.

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