11 December 2005

Back in the limelight

Terry: I thought you hated the theater?
Calvero: I also hate the sight of blood, but it's in my veins.

I admit it. I'm not ashamed. I cried the first time I saw Charlie Chaplin's 1952 classic Limelight. I was going through a rough time professionally, and Calvero's (Chaplin) journey in this film really spoke to me.

I hate the theatre. It's an anachronism, clumsey, wasteful, expensive, self-indulgent . . . it's not film. An actor at the height of his powers may play Hamlet, and hold an entire house in the palm of his hand as he treads across the boards. But once the performance is done, it is done. It's like a really good dinner - enjoyed best in the moment. Down the toilet the next day.

On the other hand, I love the theatre. Creating illusions with stage tricks and an audience's imagination. Completing an act, and being met with the silence that roars louder than an ovation. The comradery of a tight-knit cast. The dance of performer and observer.

Personally, I am most frustrated with theater that does not struggle to be remarkable. I am most delighted with fellow performers who interchange with me on stage, like a spiritual game of one-on-one.

So this is why I am producing and directing a play I wrote: Instead of complaining about how rotten I think theatre is, I'm putting myself out there, to see what I can accomplish. In the process, I am rediscovering the joy of creation that I have so often known in my short life in theatre.

The play is called Torrid Affaire. It's a bit racey, but not trashy. I'm thinking about posting it somewhere online in PDF format for any who care to read it. In the meantime, while blogging about The Felties, I may make mention of this play. Now you'll know what I'm talking about when I do.

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