I went to see Medea today - an encore performance of the National Theatre production at my local cinema. I've watched a lot of theatre this way now. I rather like it, as I've posted before. But...
I seem to drift. My thoughts are almost always pulled elsewhere.
Now, this was a very good production, mostly great performances (wasn't convinced by some of the smaller roles) and I did enjoy it. I don't think, if I'd been in the room, that I'd have drifted. But I noticed, often, that instead of fully engaging with the work, I was thinking about something else. I stopped listening to the words and would snap back with a jolt.
I think this isn't because of the show, I think it's the format. I had the same thing with Macbeth last year and many operas. I didn't have this with The Audience or Skylight. But they had a lot more humour and it's harder to drift if you're laughing.
That isn't to say my drifting ruined the event for me. I drifted to a purpose, as I basically planned out a complete production of Oedipus the King in my head. I had no intention of doing so before I went, I just started thinking and reacting to the play (which I last saw over ten years ago but have never staged) by thinking about a play that I have staged many times. In part or in whole three times. I used to stage a lot of Greek tragedy, or at least, a simplified sort.
I've never fully staged a production with a proper chorus. It's always been chorus light. This has largely been for practical reasons - not having enough people - but also because I didn't really know how to do it. I liked to get to the bare bones of the drama, rewriting the plays so that the chorus was a singular figure. But watching Medea I started again, in my head. Not that I wanted to copy the dance work or the idea of chorus used in this production. I had an image of something quite different in my mind, something from a dance piece elsewhere, that hit me. And then I was designing the set, looking at a rehearsal structure, thinking back to the texts I've used in the past.
And yet I was still watching Medea, still enjoying (if that's the right word) the event, still engaged - if fitfully.
Then I remembered that this is how I write sometimes. I'll get a DVD of a Shakespeare or other classic text and half watch / listen to it, while notebook in hand I dance shapes of dialogue about a page. Sometimes I'll watch, sometimes I'll work, sometimes I'll get myself a cup of coffee. There is a term for this kind of viewing. Selective inattention. And it's just how my cookie rolls.
So, you might be in for a bit of Greek tragedy from me again. It's been quite a few years since the last one and I think it's time to go back.
But, for the moment, I need to finish writing Historic Crimes for next month. It's nearly at a first draft stage. I've been pulling all the threads of my notes together and am very nearly there.
But till then - here's a new episode of a comedy thing I've been working on. The Museum of Tat. Enjoy.