Sunday, September 19, 2010

Forward Movement and Problem Solving

In my head, and occasionally with in range of other human ears, I'm calling this Fieldwork session "Desert Fathers, Phase One." What I'm really doing is seeing if the crazy notions in my head will translate into reality.

I've a small group working with me for three sessions now. I'm encouraged. I think there are possibilities that what's in my head might find expression on a stage. The people who have shown up for this are willing to do some odd things and they seem not at all phased by it. Movement, sounds, really exaggerated line readings . . . they're playing along beautifully.

That's not to say there aren't problems to solve. This is almost like a sketch comedy show (except not everything is comedy) where every few minutes we're in a new scene, and everyone is playing a different character. How do I simply, effectively, QUICKLY denote that the not-so-bright character in one scene and the centered, peaceful, wise character in the next scene are, indeed, different characters even though they're played by the same actor? I have some ideas, but I've yet to start practically solving that.

And this phase one isn't really about solving all those technical things. There are stories from the Desert Fathers that I've adapted but are prop heavy. I don' think this Fieldwork session is props. That's at the very least a phase two problem to solve, but it's in the back of my mind. I've cobbled together a short script that we'll perform for the Showcase in November. No props in this one.

Because, really, the big part of what I have to solve at this first stage is how to make transitions between the scenes. Some scenes are very short---as quick as two lines---others are longer. I feel in me a rhythm for these transitions that I think is going to be rather hard to put on the stage. I'm working on a device that is either going to cue the audience that we're changing scenes again, or is going to drive them absolutely crazy by evening's end. I think the answer to this problem is in the rhythm, the timing of the transitions. And if I end up doing small costume changes between scenes to denote change of character, the rhythm becomes even more difficult.

This probably makes no sense at all, and I'm not ready to explain it. I'm ruminating in public. I'm simply finding this to be a great deal of fun while noting some struggles ahead.

But, you know, if art was easy, everyone would be doing it.

I'll just repeat: I'm encouraged by what's happening so far and leave it at that.


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