Sunday, May 10, 2009

Joyous Joining 5/10/09

It is always the garden that makes the gardener, never the other way around.

Wendy Johnson
Take a seat please, I'll be with you in a moment.
I was speaking with a friend the other day about writing. She's not a writer, and yet she had formed a few sentences of a beautiful description and wondered where it came from and what it was. She couldn't tell if it would make a good poem, or short story or novel. In my response I explained that the writing would tell her what it is. Unless you're doing an exercise for your college English professor, most writers don't sit down to write a poem or a story. They write and the words become what they are destined to become. When we write we put words out into the universe and those words talk back to us. That's natural law. It's a natural communication. We listen to the words and the words listen to us. It's a conversation we can become totally lost in. It is as if the words were writing themselves.

What's really being discussed are ideas, images based on observation and thought, The words are a conduit for those ideas, sometimes great ones, sometimes not. But the writing itself always listens and talks back. This is one of the mysterious things about art and why a fine artist is so absorbed in his work.

I've found the same thing with painting. If there is an unfinished painting on my easel it will insist that I spend time with it. If I walk past it it will catch my attention and indicate somewhere on the canvas that needs my attention, that needs to be worked on or fixed. It's as if the painting said "Psst! You! Over here, dummy." The painting has something to tell me about itself.

It's the same way in theatre. Michael Chekhov wrote a very interesting book called "To The Actor" and one of the concepts in that book is about characterization. He states that to understand your character in order to play him you have to make a journey. Starting with nothing more than some dialogue, some description and maybe a few facts about the character, you start out on a journey to find him. What you don't realize at first is that the moment you started that journey the character also began a journey to find you. At one point you meet, bond and from that moment you begin to give that character life and the character gives you who he is, what he thinks, how he feels and what he does.

In short, the creative process is a friendship between you and the thing you're making. Whatever tones, words or pigments that you use, watch and listen and the garden will tell you what it is.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Go a little bit crazy today, you have my permission.


Gerry said...

I was thinking as I worked on the project of filming a reading of my play, The Prince from Saturn, how much work an actor has to do to
'find' a character in a play, the same kind of work the playwright has to do to write the dialogue and the scenes that will guide the actor into 'portraying' that character, and if key scenes are not written the actor may have great difficulty telling just what this character is all about. How many hours I have fine tuned a play, checking to see if I think I have written enough for the characters to become 'flesh and blood' in the hands of a skilled actor. And I have also felt the frustration of seeing an actor or actress cast in a role I had created, only to have them not stretch themselves, not really 'get' it. In the same play you will often find some of the players making great strides with their parts. The latter are the ones you are going to remember if you should ever cast a play again or have some say over who is cast. So many thoughts tumble around in my mind about casting, as I witnessed so many new plays being cast. Behind the scenes the playwrights and directors would always be discussing who was doing well, who proved to be a pain, etc. I remember a male and female both married who had an affair during their short stint in one of my plays, and I was quite upset to think I had been the catalyst for an affair that caused a lot of grief for quite a few people. They got 'carried away.'

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

It must be an experience thing to some extent. I know that I am not a very creative person, more directed to logical thoughts and information seeking. I like to share those things, but that is more repackaging than taking it in and creating something new. Others like you have the creative gene, and that is what makes it fun :o)

Big Mark 243 said...

This describes a lot to how I feel and go about things.

As it directly relates to me and what I write, I feel like it is the words that take shape and form what needs to be shaped.

Beth said...

It's all very mysterious to me...but I find myself practicing being more observant. The more you hear, the more you experience, the more you explore, the greater the well from which you can draw.