Saturday, February 03, 2007

Weimar Toolkit #1

So, in the month leading up to our first retreat for any new project, I try to soak up as much research as I can about the periods, genres, and styles we're gearing up to steal. As I read/watch/listen, I jot little notes down in a little book with a series of normal sized pens that I invariably lose.

These notes serve a few purposes:
A) They're the only records I have of the materials I've sifted through so when Emily and I prepare reading packets for our collaborators, they become the basis for a nice annotated bibliography.
B) They provide a handy dandy orientation to what Anne Bogart calls "vice": the sights, sounds, and rhythms that are both iconic and ineffable in a particular period/style/genre.
C) They give me a toolkit to shape actors' composition work. During the retreats (and for the first 2 months of rehearsal) , the actors will, solo or in groups, devise short theatrical compositions which interpret a list of "musts," prompts to experiment with style/plotting/characterization/audience relationship/staging/vocalization/dramaturgy/music/costuming which are usually derived from my notes. In every single Stolen Chair piece, at least a handful of discoveries extracted from our composition-work end up in the final product.

Now that my directing has become almost entirely digital (I took all production notes on my handheld device during Kill Me...I'm "that" guy!), I thought it might be time to dispense with the actual physical notepads and take this list online, thereby making it much easier to cut-and-paste these thoughts into any handouts we need for rehearsals later on...

So, 90% of the things I'll be listing in this and future posts will not even remotely end up in what will evolve into the next Stolen Chair production (and one should remember that we haven't, as a company, even begun chatting about this project so this could all be dead-in-the-water by tomorrow afternoon), but here's what's been tickling my fancy whilst brainstorming around the skimpy research I've done of late:
  • Fat suits and pit stains
  • Frustratingly pedestrian fablistic morals
  • Introductions which spoil endings
  • The constant threat of audience interaction
  • Green lighting
  • Fauvist make-up
  • Pickpockets
  • A grotesquely raked stage, or a stage floor comprised of several conflicting steep rakes
  • An accordion
  • Stillness that becomes comical
  • "She was not vain; I mean really how could she be? She was so ugly..."
  • Cigars and cocaine
  • Bicycle horns
  • Smells of beer, sausage, sweat, and musty fabric.
  • Co-conspiratorial tone between performer and audience
  • Schadenfreude
  • Tom Waits' "Children's Story"
  • Giant lollipops
  • War profiteers and injured veterans
  • Naughty schoolboys and boring teachers
  • Capitalists and Socialists
  • Worthless piles of Weimar papiermarks
  • The war guilt clause
  • Two actions competing for audience attention and both losing to a third
  • A set that is destroyed by the show every night (but not in a Brechtian way!)
All right. That's it for today. Hey, maybe we should offer some sort of prize to blogreading audience members who can correctly pinpoint the origin of a final stage moment from its zygotic appearance in this here online production notebook. Then again, maybe we should just offer some sort of prize to our blogreading audience members period... :)

No comments: