View Full Version : Several threads in one...

Brian Foley
04-20-01, 10:07 AM
I'm combining the Acting/St. Perf. thread w/ the Reccomended Reading thread; if that offends you...

It struck me as sad that a young man studying theater would ask such a question of Brett; he didn't mention where he was studying, but I can tell his theatrical education ain't goona be worth squat. I was very fortunate to be part of a program that expanded my notion of the boundaries of theater as an artform, rather than force-feed the 'method' of a particular guru's egocentric inclinations. What continues to keep theater alive, despite the New York Times' alternately mourning or celebrating its demise, is the basic craving for immediate human interaction that we share as a species. And the concept of 'theater as architecture,' or synonomizing an indoor space with the performance art is a comparatively recent development in human history. The idea of the 'fourth wall' barely a century and a half old, has dominated the popular understanding of the essence of theater. Theater started before there were buildings, or even streets, and outdoor performance is the bulk of the history of what any of us do. I don't understand why 'theater history' professors focus so much energy on recent history when there are centuries of rich, interesting work, that just happened to take place out of doors. (As a side note, Jan Cohen-Cruz, author of a street theater text on someone's list teaches a wonderful theater history class at NYU.)
David Mamet wrote, and I have to paraphrase, not having immediate access to my library, "Actors used to strike such fear into their audiences, they were buried at a crossroads with a stake through their heart. Now that's something to strive for." That's certainly what (on a good day) I strive for; to create such magic and wonderment, to 'hold the mirror up to nature' (not as a naturalist actor, but to mirror the metaphysical and psychological, but that's a whole other thread...).
Which leads me to reccomended reading.
David Mamet, who has a great respect for the history of variety performance in the evolution of theater, wrote "True and False". It's ostensibly about acting. I think it's about much, much more.
Peter Brook's landmark text "The Empty Space" begins, (and I paraphrase again) "I can take any empty space and call it a theater. Just the simple act of having a man walk across a vast expanse and an audience to watch constitues a play." What follows transformed western theater for the second half of the last century, its affect (yes, I do mean affect) reflected in the beginning of his follow up text, some thirty years later, in which he recalls meeting a group of African citizens who had been intimidated by their lack of plush seats and red velvet curtains into denying themselves a theatrical outlet as a means of expression. When someone in the tribe read Brooks' first paragraph, a revelation occured.
A friend of mine has a hilarious T-shirt, reading simply, "I LOVE BRECHT". Particularly his essays on Boxing and theater, and his patronizing explanation to a somewhat 'slow' actor of alienation.
I need a T-shirt that says "I LOVE ARTAUD". I reccomend the Theater of Cruelty landmark essays, that, though the title may be misleading, actually have nothing to do with either ButMan's or Peter Panic's act.
That's enough from me. And, oh yeah, I do it for the girls.