PART 1: CAUSES of A CONSTANT BECOMING
PART 2: CAUSES OF HAVING ARRIVED
I wrote an article once on collaboration on theatre, on Rasaaurdrama.com. I enjoyed the idea of more artistic collaborations taking place in my city Pune, which has a long-long history of theatre. But, for whatever invisible reasons there is a force which is keeping the sublimity and beauty of artistic collaborations; in kind of a SHAKESPEAREAN tragedy; asunder.
I hope this book would rekindle the spirit of collaborations by understanding our productions better.
CAUSES of A CONSTANT BECOMING
What makes your Production an eternal-becoming?
Actors make themselves happy and sad on stage if they have a spotlight to float their talent on stage like a scarecrow outside a paddy field. They do not chase people away! They are not intimidating! They are kind souls! They guide the soul of the paddy field. They protect it. But, what if the field itself is a blur!
Such blurs are not blurs of memory or technique or technology but blurs of intention, productions which breathe life into a story in great majority of cases are unhappy, look around there are happy actors but are their happy productions, a production, which has a budget more poorer than a Charles Dickens-character may never be able to tell you that it had lights which-never-came, a production may never be able to tell you that it had sound which- was-never played, a production only tells the successful story of three musketeer-friends coming together, stumbling on friendship, stumbling on newspapers ads, stumbling on ticket printing, which becomes a classic!
THE CONQUEST OF A PRODUCTION is total providing of lights, sounds, sets, thought, feeling, discussions, research it deserves, there is no sweeter victory!
As a story rambles in the mind of a director; after the writer; and they start to look for actors; there is wanting on stage, that of set, lights, sound, a production penetration and decisiveness, which comes with a production sense of bringing the right proportion of the right things!
Of a door frame, the lamps, the shoes which become an object. This sense is what guides us to the correct theatrical decisions. But, let’s not numb it by the financial insecurity and space needs. Yes, the show must go on. But the stage breathes its own utility.
How to make such utility available to a director, who wants to cut, cut and cut.
Theatre is about doing the most with the limited resource but also the correct with the abundance. In this landscape of limited resources, we end up doing the same thing when we have abundance.
What an injustice we do to an art form with this limited possibility of utility, and injustice to students who watch these shows.
It’s also because of lack of this “PRODUCTION SENSE” theatre is kind of looked upon as an impoverished art forms, or aiming to make you poor. The director is the executor but also a kind of cheat, who keeps things in the chamber of thought, without any action. THEATRE is the full utilisation of most of its pillars or wings: be it actor, lights, sets, sounds and promotions.
It’s a basic art form which has existed for thousands of years. FULL EXPRESSION is the only way to pay homage or justify the art. If not, you are just wasting your faculties. There would be shows, there would be an audience; but eventually it would go boring and the shows would be stopped. To take the play to the next level, you need this strong production sense!
A production becomes an eternal becoming with the screwing up of these basics of theatre. You open up so many pores of improvement that they could never be filled up. Like a wheel which keeps moving, with cracks and loose ends until it gives way.
Same with a production, the potential of improvement becomes so great, that it could never be filled up. The process of production becomes an eternal becoming. We want to be reaching a mark where at least we can profoundly acknowledge to yourself; yes we have reached the maximum potential for this moment, day, month, and year!
We very well want to cut down on this process of eternal becoming and bring more authenticity to our production. The authenticity it deserves. The authenticity it earns. Or sometimes the authenticity it loses. And become something new. The authenticity of rejection. A theatre piece would never be outdone or lose its value. So, why not strike it where the iron is hot and make it the fullest authenticity of the moment in the universe. A theatre piece remains fresh in the freshest-moments-of-the-making! [Unless there is a genius of a director who can use boredom and freshness so well.]
In Pune, there are hundreds of plays that are manufactured in the theatre laboratories in the city. Very, few of them survive becoming BIG PRODUCTIONS and carrying on the BRAND of the play. This is because they are submerged in this cycle of ETERNAL BECOMING!
An objective approach giving merit to every department of theatre is the best way to avoid this cycle of ETERNAL BECOMING!
OBJECTIVE APPROACH would be a researched utility of theatre resources. Given the fact that, yes theatre in India and other parts of the world have a paucity of funds. But, I strongly feel good use of technology or better ways of resource handling and procurement can impact theatre production in the country and outside in big ways.
Focusing on the actor is a central-theatrical-approach-practice. The output change is you change focus like theatre director Deepan Sivaraman’s scenographic works. Some directors could employ scenographic practice with traditional method or totally unbuttoning of all methods like Wittgenstein’s approach to philosophy; little of traditional methods and little of modern.
This objectivity is difficult to approach even for theatre directors. The environment is already conditioning our theatre. Which should be like this since theatre is a local affair; but something of literary beauty, the smell of culture, the freshness of research is lost when the objective approach is lost. We need to avoid this cycle of ETERNAL BECOMING and make full utility of the production moment and healthy production sense!Chapter 2
An absurd condition
The eternal becoming puts the productions in a world where it’s an absurdist zone. It becomes difficult to say why things are swaying in this direction or the next? Absurdism is apt on stage but when it runs your Production Sense, then it is time to get worried. Being a little blunt, I am yet to see a production make a detailed plan of the execution of a production with deadlines. Some theatre directors are yet able to pull off a production beautifully through their wisdom. But, we have to stop and ponder if a better Production Sense guides our execution better.
The light design research, with delivery; sound design research with delivery, the set which causes tremors in generations of theatre-coming audience. Are we confident that our sense of cutting corners is not guiding our execution decisions?
Absurdism enters when we do not know what theatre production resource is coming from where! It’s kind of divine intervention that guides a production and the charity of the audience. Theatre groups are becoming better especially in Pune. Yet there is scope of so much better organizing with just better management and sharing of information.
The absurdism could also be traced to the stage where often a talent does not get a platform; while a closer connect to the founding member become-a-shining-star! Acting is a science as much a gift. It can be learned, honed, practiced and mastered.
The organizing on stage and organizing backstage are different domains. The aim is same for the director. Yet, I beg to differ and say that the production backstage breathes its own life!
Production is a science of the highest levels of execution and perpetration. Imagine the production team at National Theatre or the Shakespeare’s globe. Complicitie executing its play and the cameras, lights, visuals; the execution of these would require tonnes of practice and execution sense. It’s cutting edge execution!
Even directors who do not have access to such technology can provide cutting edge execution with the resources. Theatre does not discriminate between a poorly resourced and adequately resource production. Production Sense does!
Like an actor creates momentum over years of practice, similarly, a production team requires years of practice to build an execution potential as good; if not better than management schools!
A production which has crossed more than 200 shows would certainly have started with a strong production sense. The expanse, the impact of a play does not come with the performance on stage alone. It also comes from the organizing, exploiting, innovating in backstage functions. Using better venues, using apt venues, using apter venues. Not skipping any pillar in the process of playmaking. From schools, to college barring few professional theatre companies; theatre is the center stage of an actor and anything could be sacrificed to it.
A Production Sense would give importance to all fields equally. The stage and more, the whole production process would take an entire different transformation; also in narration, storytelling, blocking, conceiving, setting, conditioning! The absurdity in the production has to be bottled away with GOOD PRODUCTION SENSE. It would be an exercise and slowly grooming away of these theatrical “assumptions” which tosses your production out of this zone of ETERNAL BECOMING! As a reviewer, theatre has revealed to me in layers; layers of unbuttoning of the reality, abstractness and the surroundings. Unless you perceive this unbuttoning of theatre in your lights, sound, sets, actors; you are not ready to be a tour-de-force playmaker.
Not here assuming any purpose of your art also, just suggesting; you may never want to be in the limelight in the first place! A good example that comes to mind is the play by director JULIE TAYMOR: Transposed Heads. Her following work like the film O Frida and The Lion King! The LION KING sets are inspired from the oriental countries!
Or I would rather put it, the director actually studied early theatre and films there. And made the fullest use of their faculties of the set-making.
The local Pune theatre is layered in absurdities like -too-much resource-lackness, actor-oriented, collaboration-lackness!
What’s the way out? Perhaps a director or team or individual has to go back to the basics. The basics of storytelling, writing, playmaking!
I also suggest an indirect approach to playmaking. Plays and theatre are considered very close to reality. Theatre is many layered and an indirect approach actually opens up areas of exploration. Let your script open up countless possibilities of interpretation, execution, butchering; at least you have seen the play in a thousand ways already and explored the mind of the audience! You have already connected with the audience. Human Beings are social and patterned animals. If you have explored your own mind, that of your team; with the countless experiences; you have already begun a journey with the audience which becomes more stronger. The voices you give birth to though your performance already adds to the consciousness of the society; whether we see it palpable. Theatre goes a long way in connecting people; cleaning up pores which are soaring! A great unifying force. We definitely need a better, better understanding of this art form to execute better.
Creativity AND inspiration
Creativity is as much a result of practice as genius. A person with gifts to flaunt in front of an audience is rare; but there is no substitute to effort. Artists in all genre of arts have experienced this creative assimilation of ideas and thoughts. A splurge of creativity on stage, writing and direction is a delight. Some artists claim to be inspired which only they can understand. Whatever reasons they may have, the result is a product of unbelievable quality and experience. It would go to delight eons of audiences. Whatever the sources of inspiration the experience is if a brilliant genre and make. Creativity and inspiration go hand in hand. I feel inspiration is a result of focused effort and good environment. Even common artwork takes a stupendous leap in this environment.
Lack of environment can also lead to magical output in artistic creativity. Often while watching film festivals at NFAI [ National Film Archive of India]; like Kazakh film festival and Afghan film festival. Peoples who have no technology, no culture; by sheer power of culture and art create powerful works of world renown. It’s actually difficult to measure creativity just by the audience turnout.
Creativity and its understanding would change with time and media understanding. The interpretation by other artists! I do not mean to say that other artists can alter the creative process; but they could inspire/ influence. There is probably a huge quarrel over what inspiration is and what influence is. Influence can be inspiration and also inspiration an influence. Creativity is a circle all around it; outside. An un-inspired person could come to be creative! But, in common sense; we would not want to call an uninspired person creative. Creativity could be genetic. We do see artists of theatre personalities turning out to be as good. Sometimes genes do the magic. I still feel every human being has that spark in the soul; to be an artists. Art is an expression, conversation; and anyone who can converse may become an artist!
What can certainly help us is; how we can create the creative environment!
Books, artists, directors, friends, poets, painters and filmmakers!
But, the ground of creativity, art and inspiration is still unexplored; and there is space for amazing exploration!