Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Peculiar World of the Theatre

I haven't had much of a chance to review School House Rock Live! (a musical I was recently in) as of late, what with school and such. I also returned to Silent Forest, which is where I worked last year: a seasonal Halloween-type job in which I am payed to scare people. What could be more fitting? Anyhow, the musical went well, and I learned a few, erm, interesting things about the beings who inhabit the theatrical world, both on- and offstage. One is an odd sort of game called Stomp. It was intended as a "focus exercise," I believe, but the rules were only explained very briefly to me. Nobody ever told me the full set, I don't believe, seeing as another rule was introduced to me each time in the form of my being "out." Once out, the object is to sit on one's ass and do absolutely nothing, aside from breathing, existing, etc. I don't bore easily, but I do get the sense of time and productivity. The feeling of wasted time irks me on an intellectual level; I consciously become focused on what I potentially could be doing, as opposed to one's traditional boredom. Now don't get me wrong, I love the concept (mostly for the Grendel jump, as I call it), but I'd like to be "in," you see. Don't get me started on the Slagar pounce, also called the cat leap or feral dive. Oh, and Slagar is a fox in the Redwall series. Evil but really cool, especially the audio book's voice actor. May you rest in peace, Brian Jacques.

Another quirk among theatre folk - even the realistic and sensible ones, is one I first heard of in Applause!'s As You Like It with Star Wars costuming, or rather, in the informational pamphlet. A very good friend of mine, if I may be so bold, previously starred as the titular character in another Shakespearian work many years before we met. Yet it only hinted at this years-past performance. When I took my stage combat class at Raleigh Little Theatre, our instructor (the absolutely brilliant Mr. David McClutchley) referred to it as "The Scottish Play." Yes, I speak of Macbeth. And aye, I feel no fear in writing or uttering the corrupted king's name. I immediately said, "What, you mean Macbeth?" - much to the panic of a few fellow trainees, one of whom went on to perform in School House Rock with me. Apparently, as some legend goes, the Globe Theatre burned down during a performance of Macbeth. Therefore, people assume it is the root of theatrical harm. Posh! is what I say. Granted, there are forces in this world and possibly beyond, ones I don't comprehend, but I think Macbeth (that's four) is a harmless title villainized by the silly geese who need an explanation. I called a myth and one fellow actor replied that it is actually a legend. I politely refuted by explaining that a legend is a tale with so many parts added on that no one alive can discern between fact and fiction, such as King Arthur of Robin Hood. The Globe burning, I suppose, supports that bit. But a myth is used to explain occurences by making things up and then believing them. It was done by Greeks, Romans, Nordic/Scandinavians, and even Christians. Hey, do you really know where Jesus Christ's body went? Exactly.

The name of Macbeth (5) is often attributed to dramatic malfunctions. One chap even said that it's been proven due to multiple occurences. (Um....) But that's not logical scientific proof. Just because something is frequent with the association of another, if one has no solid proof, then it ain't fact! Theory is closer, I think. I heard a story once: scientists gave one hundred people blindfolds and had them eat steak. Fifty steaks were unmolested in every way, while the other fifty were dyed green by a harmless coloring. Upon removal of said blindfolds, most (if not all) of the greensteakers became ill and vomited. The lesson is that the mind affects the body in odd ways. One young lady, a truly exceptional actress, writer, guitarist, and singer (how does she do it??) informed me that the bloke who once played Count Dracula, in that very same vampire play, banged his head on something or other after someone said Macbeth (SIX!). It becomes apparent to me that he must have believed the rumor as well, and therefore whacked his head because his "backstage" mind caused him to do so. I have suffered no unusual injuries, and I think I know why: logic! Don't get me wrong, I love unnatural things, but this seems to me like an odd game of wits and trust. I've said Macbeth so many times I've lost count (VII is what is here). The only reason I refrain from using it to its fullest extent, in the theatre, with acting folk, is for the sake of everyone's sanity (even mine) - I love controversy, but people take Macbeth [huit] way too seriously. When I asked the guy who actually played Macbeth (numba nine!), he explained it about as much as he explained Stomp.

Now enough Macbeths!{X}

I really ought to be in bed, as I have school and it is past midnight, but my thoughts are flowing and I think I'll get them down before they fly away. What comes to mind when I say that you just lost the game? You might say "Darn!" or "I don't play the game," or "The game is stupid and childish." Allow me to assist your achievement of clarity. The game is something all things play, whether they know or not, whether they choose to admit it or not. But you don't have to lose upon realization, the way I see it. It's not stupid or childish - not in the right context. It's about over-focusing on life. If one overthinks things, one loses track of time and reality. There needs to be a healthy balance betwixt think and do. I tend to think a lot, so I need to do more. Many people, however, are concrete divers: they pay no heed to their surroundings and just act on impulse. I say it's OK to "lose" as long as you know what it really means.

I must away! Macbeth Eleven, ha!


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