September 20, 2011
When Words Are Your Art
Rehearsals for Café des Artistes "officially" began last night. We had a couple of meetings and discussions last week and the week before, but we are officially off and running.
One of the cool things about doing such a collaborative piece is that we're encouraged to bring in our own thoughts, reactions, ideas for what might be included in the final production, and there's a lot of discussion in these early meetings and rehearsals.
Did I mention that we'll be not only exploring the lives of artists, but also the artistic process(es) an artist goes through while he or she is creating art? The mediums being explored are music, dance, writing and visual art. Tashina, the director, surprised me when she put me under the umbrella of writing. Being a singer, I naturally assumed I'd be picked for music, but...I'm really, really excited to be trying something new and challenging myself.
Last night, at rehearsal, we were reading through some random texts that Tashina had pulled but hadn't yet assigned to a particular art form(s) or actor(s) yet, and we talked about each one after we read through them. One of them got me thinking about something that I'm still having a hard time expressing, but I'll try...
Remember when I wrote this post and I talked about how much I loved with Kristin Chenoweth said about how we sing or we dance because we can no longer speak? Because words fail us? Well...I agreed with that wholeheartedly. As artists, we're so very lucky because, when words fail us, we can sing. We can dance. We can paint.
...but what about the writers, whose words are their art? What happens when words fail them?
I'm not talking about Writer's Block. At least, not really. I'm talking about when our emotions take over and even words aren't enough to explain or express how we feel. Let me come up with an example --
Imagine a relationship between a writer and his/her partner...or even a relationship between two writers. Let's put them onto the stage, in the context of this show, even, so I can create a world that's slightly outside our reality. Their words are their work, passion, and their art. Imagine the other relationships between the dancers, the musicians, the painters.
Now imagine these relationships breaking down in some way. The lines of communication are no longer working as they have before. It's beginning to seem impossible for the artist to express himself, so he uses his art to express his frustration, his love, his rage, his jealousy, or what have you. He paints. He composes. He releases it into his body in movement.
Can the writer still write? When he can't communicate with his partner verbally, maybe, can he still use those words, that mastery of the language, to express himself? Or does that just become more work than art at that point?
(I'm not expecting answers from this, by the way...I'm just rambling in a stream-of-consciousness thought process trying to explain this...to myself.)
I was mulling this over last night long after rehearsal had ended, and I went back and read through some of the earlier scenes and dialogue/text we read through last week and I came upon what had initially appeared to be a simple back-and-forth word game between two people. A word association game. I say a word, you come back with a word—the first word that pops into your mind—in reply. It can be related to the first word, or just another word that the prompt word made you feel like saying.
I had a tiny bit of an epiphany that I hope we get to explore in rehearsals...perhaps the writers just go back to the language in its simplest form. Perhaps it's a starting over point for them in that relationship, going back to a simple place where the words aren't so heavy-laden with double meaning or allegory or symbolism. They're just...words. Words that invoke feelings all on their own in their barest form.
When I re-read the word-association dialogue, it took on a whole new meaning for me.
And that -- I think -- is the point of this whole process.
(or at least one of the points)