Friday, May 18, 2007

Kinderspiel Korrections: Part 1

So, we spent about 3 weeks toying with a concept for Kinderspiel that just doesn't look like it will either a) actually address the questions we want to address or b) actually be possible to do.

Fortunately, we learned a lot in those 3 weeks of experiments. It can be awfully frustrating for all parties involved to flail about in unknown territory only to come to the conclusion that nothing has been concluded. But such is the valiant and commendable mission of a laboratory theatre company! The alternative is what? We would only do plays that were already written or develop ideas that we were 100% certain we could pull off. Where would the fun be in that?

As it stands now, Kinderspiel PR reads: "Set in the demimonde of Weimar Berlin, one cabaret offers access to the ultimate taboo: watching adults play as children. Stolen Chair presents the world's greatest children's story, told exclusively for an adult audience. After all, why should childhood be wasted on the young?"

In our rehearsal experiments, we had been interpreting "play as children" to mean "play-acting as children." Putting aside for the moment whether or not the nature of our ensemble's play-acting was or was not faithful to actual child's-play, this interpretation forcibly skews the play too far towards the Dionysian on Nietzsche's artistic spectrum (Um...can you tell I've been spending too long doing PR for Stolen Chair's gig at the Pretentious Festival?). While about 8 years ago, in the thick of my Grotowski-worship, I would have bribed, maimed, and killed for the opportunity to direct a paratheatrical experiment, Stolen Chair's whole formula is based on reinvigorating classical (or classic) structures. We make perversely-conceived and aesthetically-preposterous well-made plays. And...we tell stories! Good stories. We just couldn't find the Apollonian structures necessary to keep the play-acting component and find opportunities to forge those into a well-made play and a good story.

The chief problem play-acting poses is that it fully negates character; part of play-acting means so fully committing to the spirit of the moment that the social clues that reveal character just disappear. And it's reductive: while there's room therein for wild creativity, the plot tropes it seems to force (Grotowski similarly noticed that in his early paratheatre experiments, most of the improvisations revolved around certain banalities like pseudo-tribal conflict and group celebration) won't give us the opportunity to explore the questions which originally gave rise to this piece.

But, where does that leave us? Ah, well that's part two, coming to an RSS-feed near you in about 3 hours...

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