File puptcrit/puptcrit.0803, message 78


To: <puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org>
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2008 18:33:07 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Making powerful stories


I can't resist offering this famous quote

The story goes that when the British actor Sir Donald Wolfit was on his 
deathbed
his last words were

"Dying is easy. Comedy is hard."


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ed Atkeson" <edatkeson-AT-earthlink.net>
To: <puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org>
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 3:50 PM
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Making powerful stories


> Michael >>>  Please don't take from my earlier post that I am anti-
> comedy or anything like that. Rather I simply want to see if I can
> learn to craft stronger work in general by not depending on it, for
> its inherent audience appeal. Diversify my palate of content.
> ----------------------------------
> Do you remember that youtube clip of a street puppeteer who had a
> single puppet on a small table just silently dying? It was a
> marionette, and the puppet was crawling, clearly at the edge of his
> life, crawling across the table. I think that was all there was to
> it. I'll never forget it. No comedy in that one. No talking either
> but there was excellent... what? choreography? Acting?
>
>
> >>>  Having said this, I've been thinking much lately about what
> role it should or should not play in this piece I'm working on about
> the Civil Rights struggle here in Mississippi. As I've written before
> about this project, it looks at some pretty grim events that took
> place in the American south..... with the amazing, startlingly brave
> responses of Black Americans to respond to them mostly with quiet
> courage and non-violence.  A heroic tale, but one woven with tragedy.
>   I see that, for example, in MACBETH, that WS felt it was a
> cathartic necessity to include a drunken porter as comic relief.  I
> see where in most of his works, Bertholdt Brecht also felt that
> comedy should run simultaneously through his stories that are hardly
> "funny ".  So I'm pondering the psycological dynamic here....
> wondering how I could/should include it in my own play. Wondering
> what the "rules "  of comic relief might be, for effective
> manipulation of the audience in being able to deliver a work that is
> troubling. ... yet not burn them out to the degree they can't receive
> it.
> ---------------------------------
> Michael, I think it's best to follow your personal inclinations. I
> think it's possible to make a fully formed powerful piece without any
> comic element, but don't listen to me. :)
>
>
> >>>  The wayang format I work in is probably one of the most
> language-based of the puppet formats, since the puppets have the
> least amount of movement potential. In this work, I'm aiming for a
> combination of terse, potent dialogue and a n amount of visual
> richness  to convey the story,  in addition to those kinetic
> contributions that puppet movement can offer in this case.  I like
> your idea of writing a movement plan as a component of the
> script....especially if the movements are specific to conveying a
> certain intention.
> ----------------------------------
> As I see it, the design of puppet action usually takes the form of
> simply knowing what to do with the puppet. It's not actually written
> down anywhere. You tell your puppeteer what the puppet has to do, or
> if you're doing it yourself the movement is obvious. But you are
> "writing" it in effect, like a dance piece.
>
> I'm trying to go in the direction of more motion, less talking. Not a
> puppet dumbshow exactly, just more balance. I have a friend who
> pushes me in this direction and I think he's right. "Too many words!
> Let the puppet make his magic little world."
> best,
> Ed
>
> I'm rewriting a script with about 30 characters, but a max of 5 or 6
> per scene. It's a scream. Vvedenski's "Christmas at the Ivanovs" 1928.
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