King Lear

I’ve finally started reading Lear for the first time. Yes, my top-notch Tennessee education never broached the subject, and until now, I had not seen fit to do so for myself. Since there is nothing else going on here, how about this: name a role you might like to play (doesn’t even have to be your most desired), a role you would not like to play, and a role you would like to see someone in particular in the group to play (and tell who the person is). It would be helpful if you would tell us which role was which. In the interest of being clear, I am speaking of roles within King Lear, not just in general.

OK, people…

I would like to propose a way forward; not in product, but in process.

Not that there’s anything wrong with talking about product(ions). That should continue, I think, and must. But speaking just for myself, there’s always a sharp disjunction between what I think about potential productions and what i do when I’m engaged in a creative process. Often it’s not a disjunction as much as it is an antagonism. Mutual destruction is ensured in such a case, leaving me just staring off into space while waiting for sleep. For me, talking about the kind of work I’d like to do is often an exercise in egoaggrandizement, an attempt at self-justification through asserting some high-falutin’ critical and academic sensibility. To exploit my jargon, it’s indulging in an imaginary mode of reflection: how do I see myself, how do others see me, how do I want to see myself, how should someone my age be seen, etc. Once shoulds enter the picture they usually turn monstrous and omnivorous; next thing I know they are chasing me down like wild dogs.

Process, on the other hand, is very forgiving. It meets me where I am. It respects limitations. It breathes with me. It patiently teaches and offers reasonable rewards. I’m tempted to use my experience working on Coriolanus as an example, but the experience is too recent and we have many mixed feelings. I’ll just say it was a process experience that got me through and kept me fairly even tempered (for me) in the midst of a frustrating schedule. I didn’t worry about the product too much because my process kept me absorbed and distracted (in a good way).

Let’s give ourselves a rewarding and satisfying life while we wait for the “right one” to come along. If you know what I mean. No need to cloister ourselves.

Here’s my proposal. We open up a page on this site for ongoing creative contributions and exchanges. Wednesdays, I will open up the Newnan School of Dance at 6:30 for whoever wishes to gather and explore. That’s it. No pressure. You do not have to come on Wednesdays expecting to “act, perform, improvise,” etc. Just talking and observing is fine. Let your own thoughts of process lead you.

This may lead us to having several “irons in the fire.” Why not? Several works in progress? Experiments? A series of variations? Scripts? Other performance ideas? We each lean in with whatever process and sensibility fits us. Speaking for myself, again, there may be times when I feel so beset with thoughts of product and the burden of my own unrealized aspirations that spending a Wednesday absorbed in playing around in someone else’s ideas would be just the thing. To just engage in a process with no concern for my own future ambitions would be a welcome opportunity.

If we want to use Vyew as an annex for our online sharing, great. We will need to be reminded of passwords and names and such. As for our forum on this site, new page? or new post? Thoughts?

My one suggestion for our online work: avoid creating the illusion of human interaction and favor other encounters.


Back in the summer, I short-circuited the play-acting we were doing in The Art of Being Off-Task by claiming that I had found the answer to the problem.

I coyly held out on the group till I was back in town, but I still want to hold back, in a way. What I found was a Chicago performance troupe called the Neo-Futurists, the New York version of whose show Too Much Light (Makes the Baby Go Blind) Jobie had described to me. I ordered two books of their scripts and liked very much what I saw. In fact, my much-derided nude turn in Off-Task was a response to having read those scripts.

When the Honeas came to pick up Galen at GHP, I gave Marc the books of scripts for his perusal. If he’s willing, I’d like to diffuse (defuse) the Master thing and ask him to describe the Neo-Futurists’ work and whether he thinks it might be something we could explore.


We could actually do this, you know. I’m remembering John Russell Brown’s Free Shakespeare, in which he proposes that we do away with directors and designers and instead just cast some actors, send them their sides, have them memorize their lines, maybe let them meet on and off for a couple of weeks, and then presto! turn them loose in front of an audience.

I’m game. For scenes, mind you, not for an entire play. (Marc, this could be a fun GHP thing as well.)

As mentioned before, we’ve got the Court Square and all its attendant night spots to play with.

Any ideas for scenes? I have a book or two of scenes, actually.

New concept

[This article is cross-posted from Dale’s blog.]

I continue reading A Perfect Mess, and now it’s actually proving useful.

[from A Perfect Mess, p. 168]

University of Milan researcher Mario Benassi refers to spin-up-friendly companies as “modular” companies, and espouses three basic principles for them: growing in pieces instead of holistically; being as quick to shrink or get rid of logy pieces of the company as to invest in the promising ones; and being prepared to reorient its efforts around any of the pieces.

Growing in pieces:

We’re already “growing in pieces,” I think: working on three songs from the entire work as a visual sample for our potentially “uneducated/unimaginative” audience. However, I think we can do more in this direction and have it benefit us.

For example, what if those of us who are working live in the workshop begin to come up with elements that we needed, say the Sun or Moon disks for Sun & Moon Circus, and then posted those needs on the webpage for those non-live participants to take over?

In other words, on Tuesday night we decide to go with a combination of Laura’s two-sided Sun/Moon disk which then splits apart into two separate 10-foot disks for the Circus portion. We post that on a William Blake webpage called Things We Need. Diana reads it on the webpage and decides that’s something she can do, so she emails us and lets us know. (Ignore the fact that we have no budget for the moment.)

Diana sketches out a couple of possibilities, posts them to the Vyew page [room ID 067760] or emails them to Dale and he posts them to the site. Soon we reach an agreement on the design, and Diana builds these items, following a schedule we’ve hashed out at the same time. Meanwhile, the live workshoppers are moving on with other ideas and items.

Of course, this only works if everyone out there is reading the blog and is committed to helping out in fairly concrete ways.

As quick to shrink as to grow:

As we begin actually build these three works, it’s going to be ultra important for us to be incredibly “messy,” in that we need to be able to step back and say, “Maybe this isn’t working.” We need to be able to abandon a puppet or costume or idea without regret, even if it’s perfectly lovely and took a lot of work (and worse, money, which we don’t have.)

Or perhaps we have two things going on in a piece as we work on it, and they conflict. We may decide to let one take over the whole piece rather than trying to reconcile or juxtapose that conflict.

We just don’t need to work with tunnel vision.

One way to keep us fresh, maybe, is to videotape something we think is fairly solid and use that to clarify our approach.

Reorient efforts around any piece:

As we continue to work towards the May performance, I’m sure we’ll do this anyway, swinging our focus from one of the three pieces to the next from week to week or even hour to hour. It should happen pretty naturally as we find ourselves grinding to a halt on one piece, fresh out of ideas or materials, and turning our attention to one of the others.

All in all, I think we’re probably a model modular company at heart, but it seemed useful to me to be able to use these three principles as a framework for what we’re doing in workshop. I’m counting on commentary to move this idea forward.

William Blake’s Inn: the beginning

On Wednesday, January 10, anyone who is interested should come to the Newnan School of Dance at 7:00 pm. We will listen/look at the complete Visit to William Blake’s Inn.

Interested in what?

  • hearing the complete music
  • discussing the possibilities for performance
  • hearing more about how we’ll work on this
  • setting up a schedule to work towards performance

What will we do?

  • Dale will project the score onto a screen and play the orchestrated work. There is about 34 minutes of music at this point.
  • Dale and Marc will discuss a structure for moving forward.
  • We will discuss the possibilities for turning this into a fullscale production, eventually leading to an international performance along the lines of Achievers International’s involvement in Scottish Opera’s Tale o’ Tam.
  • We will set goals and a schedule for the next three months.

Feel free to invite anyone you think might be interested (vid. sup.).

Fording a New Stream: To ape, he or she aped, I’m aping

I’ve found a new stream and invite any and all to play in it.

Yesterday, I was remembering a conversation I had with a teacher a number of years ago and thinking about using it as the basis of a possible article or essay entitled something like Ideology, Theory, and Creative Intuition. Juicy title, eh? I will withold for the present the subject of this conversation (wait and read the article; means I have to really write it), but I can say that as I was recollecting it and rehearsing it and trying to mine it for its usefulness in helping me compose the essay, I had the thought: this conversation was truly one of the defining moments in my career as an intellectual and artistic ape. And this observation (more like a confession, really) began to feel as pertinent to the topic I was contemplating as the remembered conversation itself because I was thinking about ideology, theory, and creative intuition not in any general sense, but as they operate in the theatre.

Continue reading “Fording a New Stream: To ape, he or she aped, I’m aping”

Playing in the Stream

In a recent e-mail I suggested that streams of comments often read like electric exchanges in a piece of dramatic poetry. This, I proferred, was a good thing. Such a good thing, I think, that I would like to take it a bit further: why not use our comment streams as opportunities to rehearse and work out material for our performance pieces? Continue reading “Playing in the Stream”