Flux Sunday, December 30th
Our last Sunday of 2007 began with this quote from Trevor Nunn in the preface of Playing Shakespeare (originally a television series) and his experience with the Royal Shakespeare Company:
"The Company is founded on continuity. It is surely unique that a television series can field a cast of internationally and nationally famous performers who are present precisely because they feel themselves to be members of a theatre company, and who have shared the experience of trying to communicate the ambiguities and complexities of the greatest of all dramatists."
Two things struck me about this quote:
1.) Belonging to a theatre company can be a lifelong force of continuity in an artist's life, regardless of what measure of traditional success they do or do not achieve, and;
2.) Why are there not more companies committed to the "shared experience of trying to communicate the ambiguities and complexities of" living playwrights?
And this second thought has stuck with me. Certainly, actors and directors become known as premiere interpreters of this playwright or that; and companies frequently begin life as vehicles for a certain playwright and director. But the sustained commitment to a playwright's voice that exists in Shakespeare companies seems to me, for the living playwright, exceptionally rare.
But when such a continuity exists, in can yield things like Mamet's Atlantic, Brecht's Berliner, Chekhov with Moscow Art, etc. Yet the idea of providing a living playwright with the lifetime of connection with a specific group of artists necessary to fully achieve their work of "ambiguity and complexity"...well, it seems very difficult to realize.
Is Flux this company for me, and could it be for the other playwright gradually joining our community? I don't know. But it sure is fun to think about.
Anyway...our last Flux Sunday was a good one, and at the very least, the most relaxing session I can remember. We began by reading through the latest scene in David Ian Lee's Sleeper, and the staging scenes from Adam Szymkowicz's Open Hearts, Erin Browne's Trying, and Katherine Burger's Legends of Batvia.
Highlights included Christina and Jason finding the right balance of comic strip humor and human reality as Lisa and Peter in Adam's scene (and with an assist from first time director Jake Alexander); I will not soon forget Jason's heroic doctor ripping-off-the-glasses move.
In Trying, Kay Mitchell brought out the hills and valleys of the difficult love between two struggling sisters, and then the thrill of attraction in a second scene that featured Elise Link showing her range in a very different role as an aggressive yet vulnerable love-struck book store employee. It was exciting to be introduced to this new play of Erin's!
Finally, we settled into the delightful feast of language that is Katherine's Batvia. Highlights here included Jane Taylor's Irish Scotsman, as she tossed Katherine's aria paragraphs effortlessly into the air; and Candice's Anthea showing us the meaning of brisk haste.
And all I had to do was stroll from room to room and watch the action, and think big thoughts, and laugh at little things, and enjoy all these wonderful people.