This week Creative Producer Fiona Lindsay writes about the effect of taste and circumstance in theatre.
It’s that time of year again when everyone in the office is talking about how they plan to spend their time off during the festive season.
There are the common themes of visiting family and friends, overindulging and generally just letting everything go for a while. But what varies considerably is the detail of each person’s plans – with everyone reading into the annual festivities according to their own way of life; taste and circumstance being the biggest influencers.
Taste and circumstance shape the majority of decisions we make in life and sometimes we can be far too casual with both, so finding ourselves in a situation that’s not to our taste. In many ways life presents a multiple series of stepping-stones - the order of these stones establishes the pattern of our life and ensuing circumstances.
Earlier this week I was reminded of how subjective readings can be, when I spent an hour or so listening to Stephen Fry record a book for audio purposes. It was interesting to listen to the rise and fall of his voice and the shift in cadence to place emphasis and give meaning. His interpretation of an unknown short story also had taste and circumstances in the mix.
As such, it’s hard to be objective when engaging with the creative arts, whether we’re making theatre or watching it. Our DNA is hard-wired to be mainly subjective.
In theatre it’s the text anchors all choices – even those made by the silent contributions of lighting and movement - both of which are vital elements in the successful delivering of a story on stage.
For example, the way in which a play is lit has a massive effect on how we hear it. It’s not just a matter of being able to see the performers clearly (which always helps), but just what we hear of the text is crucial. Elements such as the alchemy of colour and the potency of lights, direct what filters through our senses. The lighting designer’s skill is to create a colour palate that manipulates our feelings at the touch of a button and how they choose this is again subjective.
The physical world of a production speaks just as loudly as the words of the play. An audience reads the silent text that our bodies speak and this language enhances the meaning and deepens their understanding of the play.
Performers that engage in total communication (i.e. speaking with every part of themselves), encourage audience to hear the meta-text, as well as the words that are spoken aloud. And it’s the tastes and preferences of a choreographer that influences the way they direct an actor.
Today we publish transcripts of my interviews with Lighting Designer Peter Mumford and Choreographer Quinny Sacks. Both talk in depth about the nuances to their craft and how they apply these to affect change and make interpretive choices on stage. Taste and circumstance take centre stage here too. So however you choose to spend the next few weeks, all of us here at Digital Theatre wish you well and look forward to sharing stories with you in 2016.