What a Play is For.
I’ve been away directing ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ at NVT in Brighton – a big beast of a play, to be sure. So here’s just one, of many, thoughts to come out of the process. It’s about what I think a play is for and our role as creators within the process of making it. Two things: our first task as creators is to tell – to perform – the story. Ie, keep faith with the writer. Our second task is to tell the stories of the people watching by being truthful to the story– to act – and by never forgetting that duty.
In other words, I think that it is our job is to put language and form – something to hear and see – so that they can recognise either at a conscious or at an unconscious level their own lives within the lives of the characters on stage. As a director I can get as much from watching the audience as I do from watching the cast at work. And what I see, if we have done our job as story-tellers, is people ‘getting’ their own stories. Obviously it can be a fully conscious recognition: they ‘see’ a parent, a partner, themselves. At another level it is unconscious and without language; their physicality, especially their faces, ‘tell’ that sudden and powerful surge of emotion. It’s why I believe that an audience can be such a huge part of the story-telling. Imagine the experience of sitting on your own in a theatre watching a play to get a sense of what I mean by that. It’s not empathy for the character. Empathy, however closely we might feel it, still has that ‘me over here; you over there’ sense to it. It’s closer than that. It’s as close as you can get. It is recognising ourselves and that is about learning.This entry was posted in Mark's Blog. Bookmark the permalink. ← Writing the big moments. ‘You’ at The Courtyard Theatre, London. →