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Two More Days

Sunday, 23. February 2014 22:57

When other theatre people ask me how the show is going, my standard response is, “We need another week.” Since I thought that this feeling was unique to educational theatre, I was surprised the other day when I asked a friend who is a professional actor how his show was going. His response was, “We could use two more days.” My takeaway was that no matter what level we work at, we are never quite ready for opening, at least mentally. And, having done this for a number of years, I know that even though the director and most of the production staff wish for another week or two days or however much time they think they need to apply the last bit of polish, the show is really ready, and probably has been for a couple of days. What it really needs is an audience.

The desire for extra time is probably not about a need for perfection, which, as most of us know is an artistic killer. Rather it springs from a desire to make it better. We want dress up our kid, wipe its nose and scrub its face before we show it to the world. We want to make it as good as we can make it, and we are sure that if we had just a few more days, we could do that and go into opening with the confidence that this is as good as we could possibly do.

It’s a function of being creative. Creative people never quit creating. We look at where we are in a particular project and invent six new things that we want to try to move the project forward. It’s a process that does not stop—unless we have some sort of creative block. So even the day before opening, we have new things that we invented overnight that we want to try because they would make the play better, and we know that if we had just two more days or one more week or whatever interval we name, we could add and refine and improve.

The world of theatre, however, does not allow that. Usually, opening is set before we begin rehearsals, so whatever we do has to be done before that date. Even though we might have done this before and know how to maximize productive time, it seems that we always fall “just that much short” of having the time that we need.

Artists in other media have a similar situation, except more often than not, there is no official “opening night,” unless the artist is working toward a deadline for a show. Without such a cut-off, we are likely to continue to develop new facets of our art, never actually finishing, but continuing to make it incrementally better each time we work on it. So we continue to tweak and adjust and improve. It’s a cycle that can continue indefinitely.

We must recognize that, if we are to be genuinely productive, we have to let go. If an “opening night” is not part of our particular art, we would do well to establish one; then we can wrap up this project and move on to the next. But we must realize that with every opening night, whether externally established or self-imposed, comes the feeling that we need just two more days…

Category:Creativity, Productivity, Theatre, Uncategorized | Comment (0) | Author:

Why Unnatural Light?

Sunday, 22. August 2010 19:58

Well, because no matter how much we strive to reproduce natural light, we can’t. We can barely capture it, and when we do capture it, we then do post-processing of whatever variety on it to “enhance” it, to let the viewer feel rather than see what we felt just before trying to record the moment, or to try to surpass the limitations of the medium in which we are working so that the viewer sees exactly what we saw in the real world.

And in the world of theatre, at least indoor (or night outdoor theatre), and often in photography, there is no such thing as natural light; we spend a good deal of time in trying to create something that approximates natural light in those productions that call for such verisimilitude, knowing all the time that we are using conventions and tricks to “present” rather than reproduce natural light, which we could quite easily do, given that the light was interior evening light. It wouldn’t look very good though; it would look stark and probably shadowy or bright and ugly, which is the way we really light our interiors, and which hardly anybody wants to see on the stage.

In art, it’s not about reality; it’s about perceived reality, or imagined reality, or recreated dream or fantasy, or the communication of feeling or mood or atmosphere or an idea or… (add your own list here). Oh, I know there is the occasional exception, but for the most part we are not interested. While we may find real reality moving, we usually do not find it pleasant, attractive or appealing; we are far more likely to find it uncomfortable, awkward. or annoying. We are looking for something else.

So it occurs to me that it would be an appropriate name for a blog about art, at least from my perspective, and that’s what Unnatural Light is about: my thoughts and questions and musings about art and how and why we produce it, how it affects us or doesn’t. I will hold forth—because I need to, and if you come to read, I will appreciate it, and if you care to comment or question, please do.

Category:Uncategorized | Comment (0) | Author:

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