October 20, 2008

Etude 4 - Practical example

Scene 1
We enter and get settled.

[Mood music: complete silence]

In the womblike darkness, ORIXA sits alone, completely still and absorbed in thought. Clothed completely in white, her face is covered by an expressionless white mask. There is a stillness to her that makes her seem pristine, ethereal, spooky - as if she could be a virgin, a saint, or a ghost.

Once we are in place, Orixa looks at us and sees us - really sees us. Her gaze is intent, laserlike, not so much just seeing as dissecting. And for a moment we all have a foot in 2 different worlds: the ordinary world and the world beneath it.

The ordinary world fades away.

Scene 2
[Mood music: "Teardrop" by Massive Attack]

We are now trees and/or spirits in a forest on a moonlit night, a sanctuary of dreams both dark and light. Shadowy SHAPES - they could be trees, animals (cats? owls? wolves?), or even ghosts - move subtly in the background as if blown by a gentle wind or floating on their own. Several pairs of eyes could watch from the darkness.

Orixa decorates us with lotus blossoms (origami?). Focused and graceful, she resembles a priestess making offerings at a holy shrine. She finds a clear spot, sits, and meditates.

A CATERPILLAR enters the forest carrying a spinning wheel.

Orixa notices it.

Slow and deliberate, the caterpillar finds a spot with plenty of moonlight then carefully arranges itself and the wheel.

Orixa watches, transfixed.

The caterpillar spins and spins, weaving yards and yards of enchanted "fabric" (more like a silken shawl) of a mystically significant color (maybe royal blue). Unrushed and methodical, there is a meditative quality to the way the caterpillar goes about its work.

Orixa inches closer - but not too close.

The caterpillar slowly and carefully wraps itself in the cloth. It forms a cocoon around itself, covering its feet, body, and head. It goes perfectly still.

Orixa approaches the cocoon. She tries to peek inside, listens at it, taps it. Nothing happens.

Orixa goes to the spinning wheel, examining it like a crash-landed UFO.

The cocoon stirs, slightly at first but soon it stretches the fabric until it starts to split.

Orixa waits.

Scene 3

[Mood music: dubstep]

The cocoon unravels. A FAIRY emerges, peeling off the cocoon. A creature of dark glamor that resembles a blood red rose in all its contradictory beauty - soft petal and sharp thorn, red blossom and green stem. She may even have wings like a lunar moth, making her look like a kind of feral angel of forest and roses and moonlight. Fluid and ininhibited, her slightest movements in tune with a strange, hypnotic rhythm. Even the least of her movements is part of a dance.

Orixa marvels, orbiting around the fairy as she rids herself of the cocoon.

Her cocoon shed, the fairy holds a hand out to Orixa, inviting her to the spinning wheel. She leads Orixa to the wheel the way a great dancer leads an inexperienced partner - smooth, confident, even seductive. She patiently guides Orixa through the motions of the wheel. As Orixa gets used to the wheel, the fairy gradually lets Orixa weave by herself.

Orixa's hand slips, and she stabs herself on the spindle. The fairy gently examines the wound. Orixa drifts to sleep. The fairy catches her as she slumps, wrapping her in her discarded cocoon and guiding her to the floor as the shadowy shapes transform into BRIARS. The fairy disappears into the night.

The briars gather around Orixa, forming a thorny cocoon around her as she dreams . . .

October 16, 2008

Etude 4 - Interaction

Previously, we discussed basic movements, activities, and tasks.

Now let's take add a new layer - interactions.

You may want to brush up a little on grammar for this one.

For the purpose of this exercise, I'm defining an interaction as any physical action that needs two or more actors - one to "send" and one to "receive." In grammatical terms, interactions require both a subject and an object. Either can be animate or inanimate, sentient or non-sentient. But they must have (or be endowed with) the ability to act and/or respond.

Here are a few samples:
abduct, attack, beg, comfort, command,
dance, defend, defy, demand, dismiss,
expose, feed, fight, flirt, follow,
fuck, greet, ignore, invite, kiss,
lead, meet, mock, obey, offer,
play, refuse, reject, restrain, show,
soothe, spy, tempt, trade, watch,
I'm noticing a couple of things about interactions that struck me as particularly interesting. As with tasks, there is a kind of implied drama - the potential for conflict - inherent in these actions. But there is something else there, something more subtle yet profound. Besides suggesting character, interactions can also suggest a relationship without having to say what it is.

The practical example will explore to what extent this works.

October 13, 2008

New blog: EclectiCopy

I've started a new blog! This one's for business instead of pleasure, but I'll find a way to combine the two of them (being the complete glutton I am for wanting to have the cake, eat it, and share it with everyone).

EclectiCopy is my blog for marketing and copywriting that's part editorial, part portfolio, part madhouse. Go check it out to see what I'm up to.

October 8, 2008

Living Free(gan)

So I'm all moved (again), and this time it's a loft in East Williamsburg.

I haven't spent any money since Saturday night, and I couldn't be happier that I didn't.

On the job front: still looking. I'm going to set up a blog for my copywriting stuff, as well as continue to write articles. People like my portfolio (h/t Adam), so I should probably get it up there.

October 1, 2008

Bonsai Theater

Nature is the ultimate theater.

There is no 4th wall. The very act of living is a drama. Being itself tells a story. Forests, oceans, deserts, mountains - all have eons of narrative, ages of plot behind them.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that I got a lot of inspiration about the style of my play from the Bonsai exhibit at Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I'd love to visit it at night when there aren't so many people around, just to look at the bonsai.

Like the geek I am, I read the little display plaques talking about where bonsai come from, how they're shaped, what they mean. What intrigued me the most about what I learned was the idea that bonsai are more than just living sculptures. They are actors in an unspoken story. Their shapes suggest an entire landscape, even a story.

So as I was looking at the bonsai, I thought of them as miniature models for a story. I took in the details about each one, wondering what its story was. A trunk bent at a severe angle recalls a powerful storm that razed the land. A blue bowl was more than an aesthetic touch - it was the suggestion of water. What body of water? Where? What happened near or beneath the tree? Who or what was involved?

It made me think about my play and how it's presented to the audience (I thought about Matt's play too, but in a different context).

The process is quite Zen, "empty," because the active part is invisible, only grasped by the imagination, never by the overt display. The point is to engage the audience's own ability to create story by suggesting narrative rather than imposing one upon them. The performance is meant to help the audience see the unseen.

(Digressing to talk about Matt's play . . .

In retrospect, it makes me think of birdsong. Now, what kind of birds is up for grabs - but the constant repetition suggests parrots, mockingbirds, cuckoos, and other "chripy" birds (as opposed to, say eages or owls). I'm not saying Matt's play is about birds. It's just the connection I made when I heard birds in the garden.)

But the question remains: How can we apply bonsai to theater?

Clearly, if we're working from a text there has to be a kind of narrative, doesn't there? I'm not so sure.

Let us imagine that I'm just giving you small slices of the overall story, something like fractured dreams, where the audience is meant to connect the dots, to imagine the story behind the performance. Of course, American audiences are used to having things spoon-fed to them. Actors tend to relish roles they can sink their teeth into. Directors and designers might have a feld day with the freedom they have - or they may simply become overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities. Or worse yet, they don't recognize this freedom then fall back on convention and cliche (as in, remaking my play in Walt Disney's image).

I could use a little perspective here. Actors, directors, designers - what do you think?