Wednesday, January 21, 2015

comedy of the craft of improvisation

"There is only one interesting difference between the cinema and the theatre. The cinema flashes on to a screen images from the past. As this is what the mind does to itself all through life, the cinema seems intimately real. Of course, it is nothing of the sort – it is a satisfying and enjoyable extension of the unreality of everyday perception. The theatre, on the other hand, always asserts itself in the present. This is what can make it more real than the normal stream of consciousness. This is also what can make it so disturbing."
– Peter Brook, The Empty Space

In Commedia Dell'Arte, all of the masks are grotesque. Commedia delights in sin, in vice, in appetite. It is, in the words of my teacher, "a celebration of humanity in all of its indecency." There is no shame, no repentance, and no salvation. There is no narrative arc for the characters, no transformation. "The one thing that's true of every single Commedia plot is that nothing happens." Yet it deals with love and despair and social inequality and avarice and hunger and sex. A lot happens. Nothing matters.

I found the whole thing almost indescribably liberating. I performed characters who were grosser, more vulgar, more visceral that anything I've done maybe ever and I had a helluva good time.

In theatre, people look deep into each other's eyes and speak without blushing about the work being sacred. People then might roll around on the floor, and then discuss the rolling around. People open a door and enter a room differently. This is all before even putting on a mask.

Tell me how I can do this all day.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

as consciousness is harnessed to scat singing

Last night I watched Michael Winterbottom's The Trip, a casually unkind movie. I did not enjoy almost any of it; notable exceptions being Steve Coogan's dreams, and the scene, midway through, where he and Rob Brydon are scat singing as their massive SUV blazes through the English countryside. That was transcendent. 

Incomparably better spent is time with the second volume of Susan Sontag's journals, As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh, Journals & Notebooks 1964-1980:

"Mailer says he wants his writings to change the consciousness of his time. So did DH L[awrence], obviously.

I don't want mine to–at least not in terms of any particular point of view or vision or message which I'm trying to put across.

I'm not.

The texts are objects. I want them to affect readers–but in any number of possible ways. There is no one right way to experience what I've written.

I'm not 'saying something.' I'm allowing 'something' to have a voice, an independent existence (an existence independent of me).

I think, truly think, in only two situations:
at the typewriter or when writing in these notebooks (monologues)
talking to someone else (dialogue)
I don't really think–just have sensations, or broken fragments of ideas, when I am alone without a means to write, or not writing–or not talking.

I write–and talk–in order to find out what I think.

But that doesn't mean 'I' 'really' 'think' that. It only means that is my-thought-when-writing (or when-talking). If I'd written another day, or in another conversation, 'I' might have 'thought' differently."

- 1965 

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