Actor Driven Magic

Saturday, May 3, 2008 Leave a Comment

How does this entry relate to Flux's full production of A Midsummer Night's Dream?

So just what, exactly, is actor driven magic?

Actor-driven magic:
-Is overtly theatrical, with no attempt made to conceal the trick. The audience's imagination must therefore be complicit in the creation of the magic.
-Lives primarily in the body of the actors, celebrating the expressive potential and erotic presence of the human body.
-Is tactile and collaborative, with actors working together to create the sense of a power that transcends their individual selves.
-Is playful, both in the sense of being pleasurable in the openness of it's possibilities; and in the sense of acknowledging that pleasure as the actor playing the role. This is not the same as alienation, where the presence of the actor removes the audience from the reality of the character; rather, the acknowledgment of that pleasure by the actor invites the audience to take pleasure in their own imagination's complicity.
-Takes a lot of additional rehearsal, with actors laboring heavily so that their play may seem light.

In practice, the above principles have led to these production choices:
-The costumes should seem like something the actors themselves might wear if they were in these situations, with less emphasis placed on specific time and place; and more emphasis placed on helping to bridge the difference between actor and role.
-The fairy costumes should be fluid and evocative through simplicity; to achieve those qualities, we are using fabrics that can shift to perform more functions than simply costuming the characters; and can help in creating the scenery in this dream-like play. This allows the fairies to be literally one with the natural world of the stage.
-The scenery itself should also be fluid and evocative through simplicity; to achieve those qualities, a forest is implied through poles that can also be brooms, swords, spears, walls of a house, columns of a palace and flats of a stage; the scenery transforms into props in the same way our costumes transform into scenery.
-Props, costumes and scenery all must feel like extensions of the actors' performances; and must never inhibit or distract from the power of the human body.
- Because the magic of the play-proper is actor-driven, the play within the play should also feature actor-driven magic, only hopefully more comically mis-guided than our own.


  • Anonymous said:  

    I would venture to postulate that "actor driven magic" as it relates to theater and an inherently "theatrical" piece such as Midsummer's would be something more akin to using very specific and effective illusions to draw the audience into a new perspective of imaginative possibility.
    Rather than use a Brechtian model of open theatrics that acknowledge that there is no illusion beyond what the piece asks an audience to envision, to me "actor driven magic" would imply that the performers would be performing a series of carfully crafted illusions to create wonder and add to the sense of mystery.

  • RVCBard said:  

    What you've posted here is quite eerily in tune with what I'm working on now. Feel free to visit my blog to see what I mean.