Plays / Theatre

Visual arts, music, poetry and other forms of art.
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Mimesis
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Plays / Theatre

Postby Mimesis » Mon Jan 08, 2018 3:06 am

I noticed that theatre and the plays which it stages are one of the few art forms which do not have a thread here, so thought I would start one, in case of any shared interest.

Recently, I have thought a lot about the occult relevance of theatre as an expression of art and meaning. Not just with regard to the topics that plays deal with, but in relation to the nature of the art form as a whole.

I find the many layers of authorship and expression fascinating. The narrative and meaning is expressed through language by the writer, whom gives it to a group of artists to interpret and in turn deliver to an audience to once again re-interpret and take away.

It brings quite literally to mind the line that William Shakespeare gave Jacques....

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts....”


If the world is a stage, and life the play upon it, then it is a stage placed in front of a mirror that reflects itself again, again and again.

I recently heard the actor Sir. Ian McKellen make the following statement, when talking about acting on stage, which fueled this idea of an occult relevance to theatre....

"The actor is the playwright and the character simultaneously”

I have often thought musicians - ones that perform live at least - to be the most blessed among artists, as they have the opportunity to experience their expression in new and dynamic ways. The moment of inspiration becomes constantly living and evolving, even after rational work.

Perhaps theatre is language’s equivalent to this?
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Re: Plays / Theatre

Postby Smaragd » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:31 pm

Omoksha wrote:If the world is a stage, and life the play upon it, then it is a stage placed in front of a mirror that reflects itself again, again and again.

...

I have often thought musicians - ones that perform live at least - to be the most blessed among artists, as they have the opportunity to experience their expression in new and dynamic ways. The moment of inspiration becomes constantly living and evolving, even after rational work.

Perhaps theatre is language’s equivalent to this?
The mirror that reflects itself again and again is ofcourse archetypes invoked by the actors. Taking a more microscopic look in to this; when I was working with the sound department in local theatres the repetition inside a production tended to become almost nauseating, but from the perspective of more active participants — the actors — it might be like getting to know the same archetypes differend sides. Ofcourse some of it gets transmitted to the spectators, but evocation is vague compared to invocation. It was those subtle changes that they worked through from the rehearsals to the final performance that kept my interest going as long as it did.

I've read some musicians, like Aldous Harding stating their live performances being performances like it wouldn't be true somehow. Can't find the interview to get exact quote, but when a piece of music or a play or any kind of a ritual is written, it is written to approach certain entities ie. touch somekind of aesthetic, and I find it true in that way. I guess what they are meaning by this is that "natural" flow state of the mind is interrupted with those rituals. This view sounds a bit broken to me, but if we come back to that nauseating repetition from the perspective of the performer, the living and evolving inspiration is bound to run dry sooner or later. Or does it depend on how open the ritual is written?

Frances Yates wrote a book about The Art of Memory which has a section, I think, involving occultism and theatre as a setting for a memory palace. Still haven't got that far in the book to tell more about, but just to let you fellow readers know. If one is allowed to suppose anything from a books name, she has also written one named Theatre of the World that might touch our topic here.
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Re: Plays / Theatre

Postby Yinlong » Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:31 pm

I have read this once since it is considered as a sort of classic on the field of performance arts / art history etc. Might be of interest to you, though academic, not occult but still Phelan - The Ontology of Performance
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Re: Plays / Theatre

Postby Mimesis » Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:44 am

Yinlong wrote:I have read this once since it is considered as a sort of classic on the field of performance arts / art history etc. Might be of interest to you, though academic, not occult but still Phelan - The Ontology of Performance
Thank you so very much for sharing this. I think that we can often find very relevant and important pondering and truths within things not initially, or obviously occult orientated, if only we look and consider hard enough.

I will be sure to read this. The first few paragraphs sound interesting, and at the end of the first there is already a thesis which relates above...."Performance's being, like the ontology of subjectivity proposed here, becomes itself through disappearance."

This reminds me somewhat of the thesis of "Self realisation is self annihilation...."
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Re: Plays / Theatre

Postby Mimesis » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:02 am

Smaragd wrote:
The mirror that reflects itself again and again is ofcourse archetypes invoked by the actors. Taking a more microscopic look in to this; when I was working with the sound department in local theatres the repetition inside a production tended to become almost nauseating, but from the perspective of more active participants — the actors — it might be like getting to know the same archetypes differend sides. Ofcourse some of it gets transmitted to the spectators, but evocation is vague compared to invocation. It was those subtle changes that they worked through from the rehearsals to the final performance that kept my interest going as long as it did.
I cannot remember where or whom it was that said it now, but when referring to acting on stage - or on film, I am sure - an actor said that they found it almost depressing how differently one can interpret, and therefore act the same thing/scene. That for every one performance or take, a thousand more ways of doing it arise.

In this way, the actor on film must be the one to sympathise with, because they cannot act on all of those reinterpretations or different angles, whereas an actor on stage can more than likely, at least to some degree, explore those different ways of interpreting the same thing over the different nights that a performance is staged. Or indeed via the different productions of the same thing that they may be involved in throughout their life.

And perhaps this is one reason why we, generally speaking, find such necessity in art, whatever its form. We live the linear line of an 'actor', where our one interpretation and action within any given moment is the only one that that moment can ever see. But through art, we can see outside of time and learn, interpret, express and experience infinitely. Any one moment can be revisited meticulously, explored indefinitely and in turn give us the chance to learn and expand in a way that time (and a world without art) would otherwise deny us.

Very much like you said, or paraphrased....
Smaragd wrote:

I guess what they are meaning by this is that "natural" flow state of the mind is interrupted with those rituals.
"We are such stuff. As dreams are made on, and our little life. Is rounded with a sleep."
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Re: Plays / Theatre

Postby Mimesis » Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:49 am

I was thinking about this again today - this idea of repetition and where we can find new angles of expression and understanding within it - and in the context of theatre and this, the great work, perhaps it is the playwright whom we should more symbolically focus on?

Much like one could say for novels, I think the most important character for a playwright to understand is themselves. There is this kind of veracity within theatre, and a well of characters that are so often not only contradictory in relation to each other, but also with themselves, from moment to moment.
This could well be the process of a playwright mapping their own inner selves, attempting to understand it or at least saying what it is that they must say about it and the world within which it is forced to navigate.

The actors in a sense then become a sacrifice, which in itself can offer a renewable vitality, even if the role - or inner aspect - that they must represent becomes repetitive.
And within this repetition, their dialogue - or the way in which they interpret and present it - can become a kind of token of their own inner expression, much like a painters hand is for the work that they paint.
(David Hare once used this metaphor wonderfully; sadly I forget how!)

As an audience - or a reader - we then become a kind of question to the playwright, which we can in turn ask of ourselves....
"We are such stuff. As dreams are made on, and our little life. Is rounded with a sleep."
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Re: Plays / Theatre

Postby Yinlong » Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:58 pm

Omoksha wrote: Much like one could say for novels, I think the most important character for a playwright to understand is themselves. There is this kind of veracity within theatre, and a well of characters that are so often not only contradictory in relation to each other, but also with themselves, from moment to moment.
This could well be the process of a playwright mapping their own inner selves, attempting to understand it or at least saying what it is that they must say about it and the world within which it is forced to navigate.
Really not something I have personal experience of - or studied anyhow deeply - however, I have noticed that many of my friends who practice acting, screenwriting, or just novel writing of some sort (at least here in Finland) have the habit of saying: "I'm adding him/her to my personal character gallery", when they meet an interesting character - even briefly as a random encounter. Also, I have noticed these people are often very interested in putting other friends to imitate people they have met, since - I guess - this reveals something archetypal or just an angle, of a certain personality or a person with a certain background etc.. Also, I know some people who have ended up as characters to TV shows etc.

According to this notion, I believe plays and novels are often also mixtures of these "inner personalities" and somehow resonating external personalities. Though, there must also novels that are mostly just these (often kind of "extrapolated") inner personalities. Nevertheless, just a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if these inner personalities would be then more the "observer" kind of characters and the external personalities then the "actrors" or reflectors".

I hope this made sense, since I have no command of the typical ontology or terminology how to talk about these elements in writing. Actually, I think this thread is super interesting and it would be fun to read some "screenplay writing for dummies" book, just out of general interest.
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Re: Plays / Theatre

Postby Kavi » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:21 pm

Yinlong wrote: Really not something I have personal experience of - or studied anyhow deeply - however, I have noticed that many of my friends who practice acting, screenwriting, or just novel writing of some sort (at least here in Finland) have the habit of saying: "I'm adding him/her to my personal character gallery", when they meet an interesting character - even briefly as a random encounter. Also, I have noticed these people are often very interested in putting other friends to imitate people they have met, since - I guess - this reveals something archetypal or just an angle, of a certain personality or a person with a certain background etc.. Also, I know some people who have ended up as characters to TV shows etc.
This exact same thought has occurred multiple times in my life. Although I am not writing any kind of visual art or animations I have grown a habit to see different kind of people as "characters" or comical situations as "scenes". Sometimes I am having this play inside my head, that "it would be really entertaining to put this kind of character to play in this kind of situation."
These same archetypal things happen all the time in art and in some games too. Nowadays it's almost too easy to see the real life as somekind of "extended Skyrim". Or life as parody itself, so why would I need to play any games with satire anymore? :D
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Re: Plays / Theatre

Postby Mimesis » Sat Feb 24, 2018 3:22 am

Yinlong wrote:
it would be fun to read some "screenplay writing for dummies" book
You and me both! However, perhaps in this context, and others I am sure, it is nice to be naive of intellectual prejudice and the expectation that comes with a deeper critical understanding of something. We can be like children then, when we watch a play at the theatre, or read a book....; seeds at the foot of a vast world opening itself before us, which we can absorb, learn from and perhaps reject, without an eye for preconceived expectations, criticism and intellectual stuffiness.
I like this idea. I think art is always best approached once one is naked, vulnerable and undressed of everything, rather than dressed in anything which can inhabit personality or style.
Yinlong wrote:
...."I'm adding him/her to my personal character gallery", when they meet an interesting character - even briefly as a random encounter.
This is really interesting to hear. I think that perhaps this happens to a writer - or an artist of any kind - when they see in something or someone else an aspect of either themselves and/or the world which they seek to express and understand. The addition to their 'character bag' is therefore an addition to the depth of their understanding of parts of themselves and the world surrounding them, rather than just an observation of something or someone external to themselves that they find interesting.

And I think this occurs whether consciously or sub-conscioualy. Even through metaphor this can happen. For example, when I try to write, I explore what I wish to say through abstract synonym and metaphor more than the portrayal of any kind of character that could be deemed to have a tangible personality. But when I later read these attempts at writing with a more distant eye, I often come to realise that within those metaphors lies the root of something I was trying to seek or understand within myself and/or the world around me - and, indeed, inside of me.
Yinlong wrote:
Though, there must also novels that are mostly just these (often kind of "extrapolated") inner personalities. Nevertheless, just a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if these inner personalities would be then more the "observer" kind of characters and the external personalities then the "actrors" or reflectors".
I would definitely agree with this, but I wouldn't separate it from the former. Even fiction I think can unearth and express very deep inner searches, even if seemingly separate and farfetched to the self.

To paraphrase Simon Stephens, Don't underestimate the importance of making stuff up, because sometimes the stuff that we make up is more truthful than the stuff we think that we have experienced
"We are such stuff. As dreams are made on, and our little life. Is rounded with a sleep."

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