Friday, 11 February 2011

Chris Port Blog #89. “What are you trying to do... in two sentences?”

© Chris Port, 2011

[When asked to simplify the methodology being developed through Marty Gull to two sentences... See also Blog #81. Updated blog profile with brief outline of proposal for PhD thesis.]

In two sentences?

1) To reinvigorate musical theatre.

2) To update theatre in general, find it money, and reboot the idea of authorship.

But that just raises more questions than it answers. So I'll elaborate...

I'm not ‘hiding behind’ ideas and words. They’re a stage, not a curtain. I actually am what I think and say. That's the way my brain is wired. Talk to me about aesthetics or quantum mechanics and I’m as relaxed as a cat on novocaine. Talk to me about sailing or holidays and my eyes glaze over like porcelain.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *       

EMPEROR JOSEPH II: My dear young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.

MOZART: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?

[Amadeus, 1984].

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HEVEL: Do you intellectualize everything?

MARTY: Yes. I’m an intellectual.

HEVEL: Ha! And what does that make the rest of us?

MARTY: I really couldn’t say.

HEVEL: So you don’t know everything then, do you?

MARTY: Quite right. I don’t. That’s why I think.

HEVEL: Does that make you feel... superior?

MARTY: No. I just enjoy thinking. I’m good at it. It’s who I am.

HEVEL: Don’t you think that makes other people feel... inferior sometimes?

MARTY: Possibly. If they’re insecure. But that’s their problem. They should just get over it. I mean, if someone's good at playing football, you don’t say “Excuse me. Could you stop doing that please? It makes you look superior and makes me feel inferior” Do you? The same with dancing, or singing, or playing piano. But for some strange reason, people in this school seem to think it acceptable to sneer at other people thinking. In a school. Where is this... insecurity coming from?

[Marty Gull, 2011].

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Now to reduce it all to two sentences [with a few footnotes...]

1) To reinvigorate musical theatre.

[To make it quick, rough, cutting edge, thought-provoking Drama, as opposed to girlie wannabee shit]

(See Blog #64. Marty’s Parables [1]. Musical Dinosaurs)

The return of the auteur and a return to writing [about bloody time]. But in theatre and film, all auteurs must also be experts at collaboration...


1) To demystify and incorporate the last hundred years of art, science and philosophy (theatre has been lagging far behind Film and TV here);
2) to develop new links between them and bring them back together again (the Enlightenment was 250 years ago, and things have moved on a bit since then);
3) to make them accessible and entertaining so that people can have fun thinking and participating in conversations that they’d previously thought beyond their reach – it’s the imagination that needs to be grabbed and rekindled, so fantasy is important here;
4) to link up with other art forms to find new forms of funding and philanthropy;
5) to attract new audiences and give them the dramatic equivalent of a night out down the pub (there are many who despise glitz and doze off at worthiness – me among them);
6) to write a guide book [‘guerrilla handbook’] so that other people can collaborate and write their own songs and musicals – it’s not that difficult once you’ve done a few pastiches;
7) to radically update and synthesize some of the key Drama practitioners;
8) to make the contacts I need to write some other stuff which I have in mind...
After that, we're into PhD territory. OK, it’s not theoretical physics. It’s more complicated than that. It’s ‘lyricist physics’. I can’t reduce it to a formula until I’ve worked out the equations. Some of the ‘maths’ I’m using hasn’t even been invented yet. It’s... rhizomatic...

You might want to start with

This following 'map' is useful for the resynthesis bit... particularly Wittgenstein’s ‘language games’ [Basically, stop worrying about what’s ‘real’. Just know which game you’re playing and learn the rules for that game. Then you can change the game, change the rules, and create better games].
It’s an experiment. Mixing different forms with different ideas and doing something that’s never been done before (to my knowledge anyway). It’s a musical in the way that painting is just smearing grit in oil over linen. That’s just the raw material. It’s what you do with it that counts.

For example, would you say that Oh What A Lovely War was ‘just’ a musical? The film version was made in 1969, before CGI. Check out the final clip below. They had to hammer each white cross into the hillside by hand. It was about the average daily death toll for the British army. Very powerful.

Obviously intertextuality has been done more times than I’ve had lamb madras (shaping a text’s meaning by borrowing and transforming another text – intertextuality, that is, not curry). What I’m trying to do is devise a new ‘laboratory’ method using information technology. That bit is fairly straightforward. It’s the new paradigm (way of looking at the world) that’s the hard bit. Nobody’s really sure what the ‘post-postmodern world’ is yet. But I think I know...

As a simple laboratory example of the sort of thing that can be done, see below. It’s not good poetry. It’s not meant to be. It’s just a way of getting students to be creative without having to start from nothing. The way sculptors ‘see’ the statue in the block of stone before they touch it. They’re not creating it. They’re ‘finding’ it...

Anthem for Doomed Boys (with apologies to Wilfred Owen)

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