Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
This is a brief summary of the Neo-Futurist aesthetic, as it appears on our website:
As a group, we are dedicated to:
Strengthening the human bond between performer and audience. We feel that the more sincere and genuine we can be on stage, the greater the audiences identification with the unadorned people and issues before them.
Embracing a form of non-illusory theater in order to present our lives and ideas as directly as possible. All our plays are set on the stage in front of the audience. All our characters are ourselves. All our stories really happened. All our tasks are actual challenges. We do not aim to “suspend the audience’s disbelief,” but to create a world where the stage is a continuation of daily life.
Embracing the moment through audience interaction and planned obsolescence. In order to keep ourselves as alive on stage as possible, we interweave elements of chance and change — contradicting the expected and eliminating the permanent.
In the course of writing Contraption I have thought often about our aesthetic, and its strengths and its pitfalls. I have thought about the manners in which we often bend our own rules or the conditions in which we break them outright, and the ways we justify each bend or break of those rules. Contraption was accepted as a proposal based in part on my ability to create the show within the parameters of our aesthetic, but really, the creation of the show must only take place within the defensible parameters of our aesthetic.
Neo-Futurist prime-time shows have a particular character to them that is both wildly different and noticeably familiar to the work we do for Too Much Light, and for much of the past three months I have been trying to distill the essence of that character and inject it into Contraption. I have mulled over my lingering impressions of every Neo-Futurist prime-time show I have ever seen…City Girl!, H2O, Daredevils, Roustabout, Windmilled, The Santa Abductions, The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen, 43 Plays for 43 Presidents, Alice, You Asked For It!, The Fool (Returns To His Chair), Poker Night at The White House, Patriots, DRAG, various performances under the aegis of Neo-Solo, the videotaped performance of Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. I have been beating myself silly trying to figure out what qualities these shows might share in the way they handle their topic and the way they handle or manhandle the aesthetic. I have thought about the common theatrical conventions of our aesthetic and what often works well and what often falls flat, and what it means when we decide we don’t care about things like success and failure.
Earlier this week I sent the first 31 pages of a draft of Contraption out to the cast, many of the crew, and a few potential artistic associates, in order to give them a better sense of what I was trying to put onstage. The reaction has been mostly positive thus far.
This is unfortunate, because two days after sending the draft out I realized that it was all going to have to be torn down and then rebuilt from almost the ground up. There is a lot of salvageable material from this draft, but at the moment the construction has taken me in a direction that can only lead to a completed play I am thoroughly dissatisfied with. I am going to sit down this afternoon, this evening, the next however-many-evenings, and I am going to look at the script sheepishly and say “I was wrong. But this is not insurmountable. Can you forgive me and let me try this again?”
The realization, after all this perplexed analysis, is that my problem has been that I was trying to write a Neo-Futurist prime-time show, instead of writing Contraption.
That is to say:
I have been writing the play I believed I was required to write, instead of the play I really wanted to write.