Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ghosts in the Room

I could’ve called this post “Why I like the TV show Slings & Arrows”.

Mostly I love the conceit of the presence ghost of the former Artistic Director, an old mentor of the current Artistic Director, Jeffrey Tennant.  The ghost haunts him, literally, by commenting on his rehearsals, his interactions with people, and basically is in conversation with him. 

This is a wonderful visual representation of something that is very real, yet intangible.  

(And isn't that the point of good drama, bringing a metaphor to life?)

With each new production and play, there are always ghosts in the room.  I don’t just mean that there is the ghost of Shakespeare or Chekhov when we do Hamlet or Three Sisters, although, there is that.  There also remains the ghosts of all those great actors that have played in those roles, all those great directors, designers, and other artists, as well as the ghosts of all our own teachers and mentors. 

We walk into a rehearsal room with not just our own experience and knowledge but also techniques and experience that has been handed down to us for generations. 

When we do theater, we are not just in conversation with the rest of the world, we are in conversation with our own past masters.

I don’t know that you can say that about other activities outside the arts.  Perhaps, in science, when you’re experimenting, there is the ghost of Einstein or Oppenheimer, but I don’t know that it feels the same.   

And I’m pretty sure scientists don’t leave a ghost bunson burner going in an empty lab the way we leave a ghost light in a theater.

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