Empty Space & Visits to a Small Planet Response

Elanor Fuchs Visits to a Small Planet

I really enjoyed this piece. Spending the past five years before ITP, I’m new to creating art, and one thing I wish we went over more during the first year is info about process. We go over design process, but I appreciated the readings on the creative process.

I’m taking both NIME and Big Screens this semester – two classes that will overlap really well with this class. In Big Screens, we’ve been struggling to find an approach to start our project, and Elanor Fuchs laid out an accessible roadmap to do just that. I’ve shared it with my partners, and they enjoyed it too.

We had started to think about our characters and our story, but the exercises from last week’s class along with our readings showed me that we were making things hard for ourselves. If we start with the ambient and temporal settings and the mood we want to create, we can eventually work our way down to the characters who reside in this world and their stories will reveal themselves. Starting with the characters first might lead to a square peg in a round hole conundrum.

Finally, Elanor Fuchs reminds us to think about the Publics and the past – to research other similar projects and performances that we can draw context and inspiration from.

It’s a lot to think about, and it’s no wonder that there is a lot of bad art out there. I hope I’ll be able to think about these things as we develop our Big Screens project this semester.

Peter Brook Empty Space

Empty Space was more great literature about what I thought was the proper mindset in approaching a live performance. I had a lot of notes on this piece, but I think I’ll just list some of them below:

  • Interesting that Brook describes how America “could easily have a great theatre of its own. It possesses everyone of the elements… a strength, courage, humour, cash and a capacity for facing hard facts.” A striking statement given how we live in a time when our love for cash and self trumps the self-effacing humor and courage needed to face hard facts.
    • A bit of a non-sequitur but in my opinion, a big part of American culture is bro culture, and this culture fueled by greed, blind patriotism, misogynism, taking what’s yours is what is catalyzing this downfall.
  • NYC definitely loves free tickets.
  • The audience will only feel what is authentic to the actor. This seems like the underlying thesis of what differentiates good theater with deadly theater.
  • As a beginner, my range of human sympathy will be thin. I need to keep this in mind as I work.
  • As a beginner with a deadline, I am prone to using well-worn means and cliches to try to spur reaction. I need to work hard to avoid this and remain authentic. Consistently ask myself why we make the choices we make. We can’t use old formulae, old methods, old jokes, old effects. Continue to ask myself what for?
  • “An author can only work with what he has got and cannot leap out of his sensibility. He cannot talk himself into being better or other than he is. He can only write about what he sees and thinks and feels. But one thing can amend the instrument at his disposal. The more clearly he recognizees the missing links in his relationships – the more accurately he experiences that he is never deep enough in enough aspects of life, nor deep enough in enough aspects of the theatre, that his necessary seclusion is also his prison – the more then can he begin to find ways of connecting strands of observation and experience which at present remain unlinked.
  • A lot of what it takes to make something good seems paradoxical. If you want something simple, don’t astrive for simplicity.
  • I love how Brook admits that a director is always an imposter, a guide at night who does not know the territory, and yet he has no choice – he must guide, learning the route as he goes. I’ve felt this way, and I have felt bad for this. I understand now that it is the role, and it is part of the process.
  • Questions to ask myself for Big Screens
    • Why music? dance? effects? Why do we want a story? Why Big Screens at all?
  • “Yet we sigh when we come across him - and in this sigh we are regretting that somehow he is at the bottom instead of the top of his possibilities. When we say deadly, we never mean dead: we mean something depressingly active, but for this very reason capable of change.”
  • Brook continues the idea that a director must be authentic to the process in the Immediate Theatre. He continues the lessons that Fuchs lays out and provides a framework for how to go about things as a director.
    • “A director learns that the growth of rehearsals is a deveoping process; he sees that there is a right time for everything, and his art is the art of recognizing these moments. He learns that he has no power to transmit certain ideas in the early days. He will come to recognize the look on the face of an apparently relaxed but innerly anxious actor who cannot follow what he is being told. He will then discover that all he needs is to wait, not push too hard. In the third week all will have changed, and a word or a nod will make instant communication. And the director will see that he too does not stay still. However much home-work he does, he cannot fully understand a play by himself. Whatever ideas he brings on the first day must evolve continually, thanks to the process he is going through with the actors, so that in the third week he will find that he is understanding everything differently. The actros’ sensibilities turn searchlights on to his own – and he will either know more, or at least see, more vividly that he has so far discovered nothing valid.”
  • Scary that the modest honourable unassuming nice director should be trusted least. Big risk here.
  • Yasmin, my dance partner for Big Screens, really needs to control the choreo for the dance. We just need to supply her with a mood we’re trying to achieve. And she needs to tap into why she dances and why she wants to do a project with a screen.
  • Ultimately, true actions and true choices will lead to good work.