Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Boundaries Two

“This is not a trail.”

As an artist, I like boundaries.

I know, we’re supposed to be all, “I won’t be held down by the man! Or by Chico!” But the truth is, artists tend to thrive on boundaries.

Not restrictive boundaries; not legalism. Bob Briner in The Leadership Lessons of Jesus, makes the distinction between order, regimentation and chaos. Regimentation – not so good for artistic flow. Chaos, definitely not good for artistic flow.

But order… boundaries… restrictions… limitations…

Madeleine L’Engle claims that the drive of the artist is to create order, to rail against chaos.

I remember an assignment for directing class in college. We were asked to put together a directing plan for a play, with one caveat: there were no limitations. No budget restrictions, no space restrictions, no casting restrictions. We could cast dead people if we wished; we could perform it on the moon if we wished.

It was one of those projects where we had a couple of months to complete. And we needed it – because after rejoicing in how cool it is to not have restrictions, we were all paralyzed.

Tell me I have a table, a chair, and two actors – one of whom is mute – and the creative juices start flowing.

Tell me that I have whatever and whoever I want, and crickets.

Eventually we all got over the freedom freeze. One student decided to stage Macbeth on a jumbo jet, using the aisles as the stage. Here was the big gimmick: every time ol’ Macky murdered someone, the plane would cut it’s engines, going into a screaming dive.

I was inspired by the paintings of Homer Winslow, and set King Lear on the sea. I flooded a coliseum; each sister got her own ship, and the boats would move in front of the audience for each scene.

Pretty cool, out there stuff.

Because, in reality, the first step we all took was to add boundaries to our projects. I was limited by the sea, and had to get creative. How does one divide a water kingdom? Or Gloucester’s attempt to throw himself from a cliff?

How does the staging of the Scottish play fit in an airplane aisle? Where do you put Birnham Wood?

Oh, are answers were marvelous. Because we rose above the boundaries – nay, used the boundaries – bounded off the boundaries, as it were.

Just my thoughts,


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