Friday, September 23, 2011

John Maloney ("The Island of the Dreams" director) written before the show

The art of the theatre is about people coming together to explore life and the questions of living. For theatre to happen, people must come together. First the artists come together to prepare, then the audience is invited to join and witness what has been created. Most modern theatre is written by a single author, then interpreted and performed by a group of actors and a director. Recently, particularly in the United States and other western countries, there has been a growing number of theatre artists who choose to collaboratively create theatre performances as a group. The artists begin by choosing a “theme”, or an “idea”, and then come together for a workshop to create characters and scenes that they finally develop together into a script. Most of the work is done together as a group. In the beginning there are many discussions and writing sessions – but usually, as time goes by, more and more of the work happens “on your feet”. However, there are no clear rules for how the show will develop. Everyone has to be part of the process of creation, and each person contributes in many ways: writing scenes, staging, creating characters, ideas for sound, scenery, costumes, etc. One reason for working this way is to try to bring multiple artistic perspectives into the work, so that the themes of the script are explored in a more complex manner than if a single author wrote it. Another reason is that when the characters and story are created by the actors who play the roles, they have a deeper connection with the roles and a feeling of ownership for the story. In this type of work, and actors cannot wait to be told what to do – they have to be active creators. And, the director’s job is less about telling actors what to do, but rather, more about listening to them and watching them and helping them to make stronger choices. I have worked on the development of many ensemble-created performances, and the process has never been the same. Each time, the play has developed differently and unexpectedly. It can be very frightening to begin the process, because you have no idea where you will go. There are no guarantees that the play will be great, or even good. You have to keep asking yourself, “what is this show?” It is a very risky way of working – but it is also very rewarding when it works well. Fortunately, there is always a point in the process when you start to “discover” the play: when you start to understand what it is about, and where it might be going. That is when it gets very exciting, because, once there is a clear focus for the direction of the show, the group really starts to come together and work as a strong creative ensemble. In my opinion, being part of this type of ensemble is one of the greatest things that can happen in the art of the theatre.


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