February 13, 2010

What is THEATRE, anyway?

There's something happening in the art world, in the whole wide world, actually... categories are mushing, borders are bending, titles are breaking down, and vocabulary is struggling to keep up. Technology and media are pushing and pulling and exploding whole new artforms. So the question becomes:


Last semester, I decided to answer this harrowing question. In a directing class, I was dared to stage some sort of private performance in a public arena... specifically, in the MoMA. This piece of "theatre" was to address issues of venue and the audience's role in live performance. However, it became bigger and more nerve-wracking than that -- it became a slight moment of crisis. As a theatre artist, as an actor trained in the most traditional of ways, as a student studying the big old 20th century theorists and reading the classic plays of the Greeks and Brits, as a little girl who sat in red velvet chairs waiting for red velvet curtains to part, as someone who has devoted her entire life to staging on a stage ...

... it all came crashing down!

I've avoided using "avant-garde" and "experimental" to describe my work, because it somehow doesn't seem to fit. I always start with a story, a fairy tale, an age-old fable -- not a concept or design element. Each director, each artist, has his/her own way of creating, and it's always a very personal way that sometimes defies explanation. For me, it is the story that begins and ends; design and concept are there to support and foster. To be avant-garde or experimental, I feel I need to be asking questions and providing possible answers with my art. I need to be working off of a point. Of course, everything says something, this isn't at the forefront for me.

I am a storyteller; the stage is my book, the designs are my pages, the actors are my words.

So what happened at the MoMA? Why was it such an internal shock? Why did I feel the need to battle my own preconceptions of theatre and art?

Stay tuned. This story is ever-continuing.

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