I’ve been thinking so much these recent years about embodiment of one’s creative action & theatre. There’s both objectivity and subjectivity to be had during action, a zen, of both being and feeling. Or maybe it’s grace/fulness. & I’m talking about the action of authenticity (heart/intention), more than theatrical artifice. Seems it has something to do with the point of connection – empathy/[psychological]catharsis, a shared experience with other humans, maybe other creatures, maybe even inanimate objects if one wants to go that far. Like it’s somehow serving a sociobiological necessity – maybe it’s even a primal drive. Even if there’s no tangible audience but the possibility of an audience, or the perception of one in the creator’s mind. And then maybe it’s the sheer act of beauty, though that latter word is a can of worms.
I saw Carax’ film, Holy Motors, a few weeks ago & I think it addresses some of the same stuff I’ve been mulling.
When asked why he continues taking on ‘assignments’, Oscar answers, “The beauty of the act.” And follows it through – if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what is left when there is no beholder? Later there’s an allusion to cameras so small that you can’t see them. The notion of an audience without a tangible audience.
I’m unsure what Oscar’s (or Carax’?) answer would be but I’m left with faith. Not trusting that there exists an audience, Omniscient or human, but maybe the action, the perception of the action by its creator, holds a value high enough to influence an objective reality – and maybe the notion of an audience increases that value. Sound familiar? The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics. My translation: it is the act of observing (measurement) that makes something so. And maybe, too, for the thing in action, the perception of being observed.
Since I’ve been working on the BRUT project, the idea(s) of theatre has become paramount to me. With performances, I’m aware that the work can be obnoxious, intense or dark. A lovely poet came up to me after I performed a piece in August and said he remembered me reading from the BRUT work at St. Mark’s in NYC seven or eight years ago. “It scared the crap out of me.” I’m ambivalent about that response. Before reading one of my character’s letters at a performance in Philadelphia this past year, I printed on a sheet of paper and taped it to the podium. It began “This is the theatre of our dreams…” And in a line from the poem, Mincemeat, “I mean the innocuousness of theatre.” It’s okay, we’re all safe here.
And that’s just the right irony, right. The theatre’s safety of innocuous expression is perhaps the thing that allows transformation of the individual, maybe even an audience, maybe further – a culture.
Yesterday I was so happy to read this from the director, Arthur Penn:
The primary challenges of the theatre should not always be getting people to give a shit
about it. The primary challenge should be to produce plays that reach out to people and
change their lives. Theatre is not an event, like a hayride or a junior prom–it’s an artistic, emotional experience in which people who have privately worked out their stories share them with a group of people who are, without their knowledge, their friends, their peers, their equals, their partners on a remarkable ride.
Of course, Theatre can be in any moment, any venue or non-venue, as the beholder imagines. Since a young age, I’ve been aware of a daily sense of cinema; now I understand it as the same. I could ramble on much longer but I’ll leave it here for now. In any case, I just put up a little intro to BRUT over at The New Hive. Please feel free to check it out.