Thursday, July 12, 2007

Into The Fire

I'm starting a theatre company. There. Too late to turn back now. I feel a little like Indiana Jones at the moment, staring down the Holy Grail, but from across a seemingly bottomless chasm. A seemingly bottomless chasm that I'm about to willfully step into. And Sean Connery's my dad. Actually, that part's pretty cool.

It's been an off-and-on lingering thought for close to a year now, but thanks to a recent resurgance along with inspiration a la blogosphere and some choice words of encouragement from Anne Bogart via Slay and Tony, I've convinced myself that this is a good idea for a long enough period of time to actually act on it. I'm channeling my zen side (which is no easy feat) as best I can and walking into the abyss with arms open (also as best I can). 'Tis a bit scary, though.

Here's the scoop as best I've been able to whittle it down after a few days of heavy thinking and long conversations with close friends:

The company stems from the theories I've been rambling about on this blog the last few weeks. I've taken to referring to it as Anti-Anticipation, because it's a more broadly suited term. The approach is two-pronged: first, and most obviously, to create work that diverts and subverts our (and thus the audience's) expectations of theatre as an artform. To provide a theatrical experience where anything, everything, or nothing could happen at any time. The second, but more essential reading of Anti-Anticipation concerns not the counteraction of Anticipation, but the removal of it. In an environment where anything can happen, what is happening must be so passionate, so at hand as to make the next second irrelevant, to stop the artists and the audience from jumping to conclusions, from trying to guess the ending, from having expectations or anticipations of any sort. When anything is possible, the only thing that matters is the actual. The company will strive to create this actuality through a willing sacrifice to the next moment.

I'm calling it Per Diem.

An important part to all of this is that Per Diem's output will be a sum of it's parts. Each piece will stand alone, but no piece will be a stand-alone. Rather than a string of unrelated work, as most companies produce each season (that's not a judgment), Per Diem's work will continually build upon this theory of Anti-Anticipation, always a further step towards that goal. Each piece must be informed by every piece that has come before in order to avoid undesired patterns or assumptions.

Whew... that was a brainful. This is the part where I worry some more.

I'm truly excited about these ideas, but we all know how far that alone will get me. Please, please, please, I am leaping right out of the frying pan on this one -- I need all the advice I can get. E-mail (or comment, your choice) with any thoughts, questions, warnings, support, tips, Nigerian spam scams that you might possibly have. My mind is a whirlwind right now.

This may be the scariest thing I've done in my (granted, short) life. I think that's a good sign. Right?



Scott Walters said...

Wow! I wish you the best of luck. Advice? Don't be afraid to listen to your audience -- not only in the theatre, but out in the street, at the grocery store, in your local newspaper. And surround yourself with people that make you feel creative.

Tony said...

The two biggest non-artistic things for any company to figure out--Space and Money. Where are you going to do it (and rehearse it)? and how are you going to pay for it? They're not mutually exclusive as most young companies spend most of their money on spaces. The eternal questions for companies.

After a while everything else can seem like easy street. But these two headaches can also be the greatest areas you can think outside the broken box.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. It makes me feel like I ought to be starting my own company - it's often something I've considered, but for me, my biggest ensemble dilemma has always been trying to negotiate all artists' paid jobs that just peskily get in the way of 'making the work'. But bottoms up, mate. I'll be keen to watch your progress. By the way, I only discovered your blog yesterday, and i like it a lot. Good one.

Paul Rekk said...

Thanks all,

Between the blogo-respone and some great words of wisdom from a few close friends, I'm less freaking out and more plugging in. Or more plugging in while still freaking out. Or some sort of nondescript mixture of the two.

And bottoms up to you as well, Ming-Zhu -- it's humbling that anyone on the interwebs is interested in my thoughts and progress, even moreso because of the inspiring community that has spoken up.