Theatre is often something where the audience is asked to sit kindly and respectively on their behinds. We are requested to sit, laugh, applaud, or even boo and hiss (in melodrama, that is).
However, last Friday, November 15th, I went to a theatrical experience. There is no other word than experience, for calling it a show would do it a disservice. Minneapolis based Sandbox Theatre presented their latest theatrical experience, This Is a World to Live In.
Like the majority of the Sandbox's works, it was entirely devised and created by the ensemble cast. Set as the opening night of an artists masterwork in his gallery, the audience was asked not to sit. We were asked to listen to music, pose for pictures, write words of inspiration, play badminton, make art (see the photo for my original work), and drink Squirt.
Not only was the interdisciplinary nature of the work impressive from the performers, but it was also exceedingly refreshing as a performer myself. Although there were set part's of this work that were always going to happen, it was up to the audience to make the evening their own unique experience.
While I do love the old sit 'n watch, I feel that there is a need for more interactive theatre. For example, Sleep No More, Punchdrunk's interactive production of Macbeth where the audience was asked to go from room to room and follow the story of their own accord, was met with a good response in New York.
I feel like audiences, especially those in Minnesota, are too nervous about seeing productions like these.
Minnesotan's like to think that they are very open minded, but the response to interactive theatrer is often, "Well, that was interesting," which is Minnesotan for "I didn't really like it."
However, as I full well know, you cannot know it you really like something until you experience it yourself. I think that Minnesota artists are ready for the challenge.
For more on Sandbox Theatre, visit http://www.sandboxtheatreonline.com/
Waiting sucks. I know that it is something that has to happen with my career, but it doesn't mean that I have to like it. We wait for days to find out if we made it to the first round of callbacks. We then wait for weeks on end to find out if we made it into the project or not.
Then it happens...you get that call, you see that email and your heart races. Did I get it? Did I not?
It nearly always leads in with, "Thank you for auditioning..." and you wish platitudes would just get off the page for the yes or the no.
Then come the critical conjunction. In my career thus far, "and" means that they are going to offer me a roll. Like in improv, it is that critical "yes, and..." moment.
When I see an, "unfortunately," "however," or "but" I know that I have not been their selection.
There have been moments when the result of this conjunction decide my mood for the next 36-hours. I would often let the rejection defeat me. If waiting is common in the acting world, rejection is its elder sibling. Rejections are so common that you eventually have to anesthetize yourself to it.
This I have been struggling with lately. I want to have a job, I want to have my career work out, but I want those to happen without the pain of rejection.
However, as my post's title says, don't be defeated. Rejection is something that I have to get over (and yes, this post is reminding me of that fact) and accept as part of my career. I know that there will be loads of rejections yet there will also be loads of successes. If I maintain a view of the positive, I know that I will accept rejection with good graces and perseverance to improve for the next time I try.
As long as I try, I know I will be happy with myself.
To quote comedian Jonathan Winters, "I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it."
This is a very touchy subject amongst thespians.
The bottom line is that it is better to see theatre live. This is without a doubt the correct statement to make.
However, when it comes to film, is it better to see a filmed version of the stage play, or an adaptation of the show?
As an artist, I am torn between the two.
The purist in me wants to say, "If you have to, go with the lesser of two evils. Theatre on film, though it dies a little, is far better than an adaptation of the piece. You still get to see the original designs that were painstakingly executed, if it's a musical, you hear all the songs that were meant to be in the show, and the talent can often be better than what you see in a movie adaptation (though exceptions can be made...Thanks "Hoff")."
Many say that theatre dies on film. I take that to mean that you don't get the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the art and choose what you see. Film forces you to see what the cinematographer wants you to see, and that is fine. However, I have to agree that when theatre is reduced to the eye of a lense, your eyes cannot appreciate the full experience of the live show.
On the other hand, there is something to be said for the eye of the lens in film adaptations. While I was not blown away by all of the performances in Mr. Burton's take on Mr. Sondheim's masterpiece, I was on the edge of my seat because of how stunning the world was.
My appreciation of Mr. Burton aside, I felt that the cinematography and art direction gave the adaptation of Sweeney Todd the look that some stage productions had been lacking.
This is where the movie-buff in me says, "That is why film adaptations are better. A studio has the ability to throw millions of dollars at a project and have the best people working on it. True it might have songs cut that were in the stage play, but then you must remember that it is an adaptation. Everyone who has seen an adaptation knows that it is not the original production in mint condition. It is a re-imagining of something that we already know works."
However, this is not an argument that either side can win.
No matter which way you slice it there are sacrifices that are made when theatre is on film or even when it is adapted for the silver screen. I don't doubt that there will be some purists of Into the Woods who will compare and contrast the performances of Ms. Peters and Ms. Streep. Two wonderful performers doing the same role in totally different media.
I cannot say which witch will be better, for truth be told, it is impossible to compare. Though both of there performances have been captured on film, preserved for the world to view for years, they have both made the role their own.
So, is theatre on film better than film adaptations of theatre?
You tell me.
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