Thursday, April 10, 2008

British People know stuff about theatre, no doubt.

Just a note from the director of Satyagraha and founding member of Improbable, Phelim McDermott, from the program for the opera:

"...Improvisation as we [Improbable] practice it is less about being quick-witted and wacky and more about embracing paradoxical skills. These include the ability to be courageous and decisive while at the same time open and vulnerable to whatever happens around you. We work on developing the ability to be humble, not armored, in the face of unexpected events and to stay connected to the whole group while noticing the impulses inside oneself. The question I asked myself was: how can these qualities be useful within our production to communicate Gandhi's ideas?
"Over the last weeks the work we have done on the performance has attempted to stress that what happens between people onstage is more interesting that what can be achieved alone. The collective atmosphere among the orchestra, singers, and chorus is an embodiment of the atmosphere of satyagraha. These are, of course, simple stage ensemble ideas--not life and death concerns--but we felt there was a creative correlation between the contents of the piece and how we might communicate them in a felt way rather than an intellectual one."

I want to really respond to that last point, which is a question I've been asking myself for the past year or so: How does one create a "felt" experience for an audience? Rather, how does one create a stage picture or show action on stage that an audience will feel viscerally, tangibly, without directly addressing their presence or requiring their participation--you don't break the fourth wall. It happens most commonly in dance, a form that deals with the body more directly than most theatre does--you sometimes see a movement and you feel that movement on your body physically, even though you're only watching. I want such a response to my art, and hope that this visceral response helps lead an audience on an emotional journey. I don't know if that's possible, but I'd like to try.

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