Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
November 2, 2018
Theater-y person observations
Category: Miscellany

Apparently I'm a theater-y person now? Not sure how I feel about that -- and honestly, given how inaccessible much theater remains to me, I'm not sure how accurate that assessment is! -- but okay! That said, assuming plans go according to themselves, I will have seen three shows this week by Saturday's end.

A few observations without explicit reference to the particular plays seen thus far:

Observation #1: A friend who came out for Merchant remarked that, when he sees Shakespeare, for the first 10-15 minutes it's as if the characters are speaking a foreign language -- and then all of a sudden something trips and they might as well be speaking modern English. I hadn't noticed that phenomenon in my recent theater forays, but I totally had that experience with one of the plays I saw this week. I'm not sure it necessarily helped me to understand what was happening in certain parts of the play (or to comprehend the jokes), but once the TARDIS landed in the vicinity I was able to follow the characters' speech with relative ease. It was weird.

Observation #2: I think there's a way to have characters engage the audience and have it work -- and admittedly it's a thing I might like to play with if I get to direct a play and the text allows for it -- but apparently there's also a way for it to go quite badly. In one part of one of the plays, the villain insults specific members of the audience, which I found amusing at first since I assumed the actor was familiar with those audience members and that they were in on the joke. But then the villain turned to me and gave me the worst of it, going on about my apparent hideousness for what felt like a considerable length of time. (The villain also ickily complimented the friend who brought me, intimating that we were together and that, given my ugliness, I was undeserving of such an attractive paramour.) For various reasons -- not the least of which is that my looks almost certainly have not been an asset in the field of dating -- I did not enjoy that bit, and it strongly impacted my early disposition toward the play.

Observation #3: Holy shit, whenever I get around to directing a play (I guess unless unless it really fits the character), I will not tolerate a character wearing a tie but not wearing a belt. I don't even think I knew how much I hated that look (at least on a man), but every time that character came out dressed as such I felt a certain rage at that fashion faux pas. I guess one can sort of get away with it if one's wearing one's shirt untucked -- it's a sort of cartoon character/weatherman look, but I guess there's a place for that choice (particularly if one is also wearing shorts). And I guess one has to wear a tie sans belt if one is wearing suspenders, since wearing a belt with suspenders is also a no-no. (I still find the tie and no belt look hella awkward, so I'd probably pair the suspenders with a bow tie to resolve the issue.) At any rate, the thing has me pondering how super minor details can draw an audience's focus, and I'm thinking I'd mostly want to avoid that but I'm also thinking about ways I might deliberately use them (insofar as I deliberately mark them as choices and not the result of ignorance**) in order to make subtle points.

**This has me thinking about a member of one of my writing groups whose pieces contained an abundance of malapropisms and otherwise unfortunate diction -- she was clearly in the habit of using the thesaurus but didn't bother to check the connotations of the words she inserted, so many of her sentences came off as spectacularly ridiculous. But there was one story where she did this in dialogue, and I groaned because it seemed so terribly characteristic -- and then, several pages later, another character whispered about the stupidity of the character who spoke the malapropism and noted the term that character should have used. So in that one instance it was actually deliberate, but it still had the effect of making this reader think poorly of the author (rather than the character) until it was highlighted. Ideally I'd avoid that response with my choices in a production.

-posted by Wes | 8:00 am | Comments (0)
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