Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Two Parts

Now that the summer is finally getting underway here, you'll be glad to know (peter) that I'm working harder than ever. It's very weird being this close to the end of May but needing to kick it into high gear because we have our scratch performances in three weeks. "Scratch" is a fun new term I've learned which means a show that's not a rehearsed reading, but has less production values than a full on show. In a way I'm disappointed we're not getting to see our pieces full out, but, after reading Sam's blog, I don't know if I could handle the pressure of a "real" show with the whole department depending on me. Not to mention that I have only been working seriously on this piece since January, whereas at Rutgers the students get three years of feedback. But I think that this is just as valuable an experience. The emphasis is very much on the writer, helping us to hone and polish our work, instead of being distracted by fellow designer and actors who all have other goals as well. Distracted isn't the right word. You know what I mean.

What I'm most excited about is working with my director, Matt Wilde. I mentioned Matt back in October when he guest lectured for us--this is the guy who assisted on "His Dark Materials" and he's also worked at the Royal Court. I had my first meeting with him today, and he's incredibly good about asking the tough questions, like "Well, what do you intend to do with this scene? 'Cause you're not doing it. Think about what you're telling me." Very nice. A bit unnerving, but, hey, if something's not getting across, then I want to hear about it. We start rehearsals on Friday! And then I have two shows, the 9th and 10th of June. So, if anyone's around...

Tomorrow I'm going around Brockley and the surrounding areas and dropping of our promotional material--a bright pink and orange bookmark. That should be fun. Meanwhile, I have a horrible sinusy headache. I am beginning to suspect that I have allergies, because this "cold" has gone on far too long, and the only symptoms left are runny nose and eyes. Wouldn't that be ironic: the one year I don't have a garden I spend all my time sniffling.

I wanted to blog about two things today, so if you're strapped for time, come back to this bit later. But I thought all you theatre people out there might be interested in this. I was surfing around last night for information about Laurence Olivier, and I learned that he was actually "in" the movie "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," starring Gwyneth Paltrow and that cad Jude Law. I was pretty sure that Olivier had been dead by that point, and I was right--his estate allowed the filmmakers to use footage of him in the film. It was manipulated and another actor was hired to provide his voice, and the end result was Olivier playing the baddie as a hologram. I was quite shocked when I read this--from a technical standpoint, of course, it's nothing new--but from a performance standpoint it's absolutely astonishing. Forrest Gump used similar technology to "resurrect" John Lennon et al, but this film used those people as themselves, and in roles that they had played in life. So John Lennon's appearance on the Tonight Show (or whatever it was) wasn't completely fabricated. But using footage of Olivier to create a completely new "performance" seems really desperate. Of all the actors in all the world... I can't conceive of why the filmmakers would do such a thing--because they could? to create a buzz for their film? The articles I read about it said that they treated their subject with care--at one point a movie theatre is showing "Wuthering Heights" one of his career defining films--but the point is that this actor/performer had no control over his character, his performance. Probably Olivier, being dead, doesn't care a lot, and I suspect that this was motivated by something a little more financial than pure artistic intent. But I wonder what encouraging this type of artistic thievery will bring. Is it post-modern? Or just opportunistic?

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