28 December 2004

...

so the holiday travelling all went well. almost missed my connecting flight from detroit to pgh b/c i decided at the last minute that i needed a coffee and the detroit airport is just big enough to make that a very long walk.

anyway, the question of the moment is thus: i'm working on a play w/ blankspace arts, tenatively titled "stop it" that's about censorship and, i would assume, artistic integity and other things of that ilk that everyone agrees is a generally good thing. oh, and we're developing the thing from scratch, which means no original script and no actually idea...yet. only most of the ideas and scenarios that have been developed seem to be trending towards "censorship sucks" and "artists are oppressed" and other things that may be well and good and even true, but make for pretty awful theatre. mostly, it just comes off as preaching or whining when i take it to its logical conclusion.

so if anyone has any ideas, send them along... matt had a couple he told me about in the airport, but i can't really remember the details.

10 comments:

johanna said...

...i have an idea that's pretty lengthy, but since i have all next week long to clean it up, on site...

The underlying idea is that control is an illusion, but one with very powerful allure, which is why so many of us scramble for it, usually to our own detriment...and yet we're all created equal, in terms of consciousness.

So even though censorship's a reaction to fear, that doesn't make any of its targets evil or anything.

mattreed said...

It is quite simple actually: The play should be about a playwright, who’s second just-completed-not-yet-produced play is about censorship, a historical drama of the McCarthy era, fictionalized from stories told by his late movie producing great uncle. Our play is a Brechtian\Kafkaesque maze of focus groups, committee meetings, business presentations, the climax of which is the finding that our hero's new play is unproducible (it's not edgy enough, not nearly avant-garde enough, and certainly too controversial). In the process our artist-hero comes to learn deep lessons about art, and its futility and impotence in the face of an absurd, meaningless world. A comedy to be set in a dull suburb of Pittsburgh.

Easiest thing in the world...

lorraine said...

Interesting idea and thread. I agree that censorship is about a type of control that's more than just words; somehow, controlling the universe means that none of us have to die. But I think that a play about censorship should also ask questions about whether free speech is really able to get past the filters in people's brains. I've been thinking about that a lot since the election--is anybody really listening out there? Or are we all just nodding our heads in agreement with those we want to hear?

d press productions said...

lorraine,

sometimes i think maybe we're all just watching "the daily show" and laughing about how screwed up everything is. the big censorship problem, in my mind, is the self-censorship we always employ b/c we don't think it'll sell or anyone will listen.

i'm a little curious, btw, how you found us, whether or not you're someone we know, etc, and in a few i'm gonna check out your thread.

lucas

lorraine said...

I stumbled on the site by hitting the "surf" button up at the top. Thought you raised an interesting point, and wanted to stick my nose in. I'll withdraw it if you like.
Thanks for you comment on my blog. I'll respond to it there.
Lorraine

d press productions said...

on the contrary, i'm glad you took the time.

lucas

johanna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
johanna said...

do you think self-censorship comes from too much time spent indoors learning when we should be out getting exercise, being happy, all that over-socialization that ted kezinsky bemoaned, where we all have surrogate things to fill time we're not working at "making a living" - instead of actualities? i think the climax would be better if there was a wash...you have to put yourself out there eventually, right, so as much as i hate to be sunny and optimistic, say the playwright did manage to find a way to produce the damn thing - and it was a success? an eye-opening, all-stops-pulled-out success...with room left at the end for some sort of regression, if you really wanted it so

i think generally, when people put themselves on the line for a good enough reason, that others respond. i know i get pretty tired of just listening to opinions. mostly i just curse those moments someone said something that really mattered to me and i wasn't awake enough to respond, or just repeated what they said...

other than that, i thought mr. reed's idea was pretty kool, though i've never read Brecht.

johanna

mattreed said...

1) I like Johanna's idea that the play is published, but I don't think it should be a success. I think it's acclaim should be modest: the playwright can continue writing if he wishes, the machine doesn't loose any money, the audience claps politely. The play ends with the audience exiting the small theater, discussing amongst themselves. "Well, what did you think?" asks one. The reply: "Oh, I liked it. I especially liked... Oh, the actor, uh, the poet, or no the playwright, I mean..." "Edwards?" offers the first, "Edwin?" "Oh yes, well whatever... He was good... good actor." "Yes," agrees the first as if by stimulus response. "Yes, a very good actor whateverhisnamewas... Say I wonder if there are any good movies playing?" Curtain.

2) Remember that Kierkegaard quote? Something like: people so rarely use the freedoms they have, like the freedom of thought, that they begin to demand other freedoms, like the freedom of speech, in compensation. Not to sound reactionary, but I am not sure if there is anything wrong with self-censorship. Not everything that can be said should be said. Actually, most of what is said shouldn't be said, let alone what can be said and isn't said become some people have the good sense not to say it. Besides, lack of boundaries makes for crummy art. Would Oedipus Rex been a better play if Sophocles had let the King tear is eyes out on stage? I'm sure he could have found an actor to do it. Also, is there any difference between self-censorship and revision (for reference, see the garbage dialog I wrote back in paragraph one)? Actually, it doesn't really matter. These are the kinds of rhetorical questions people ask when they have too much time on their hands. The best I think you can say about censorship is this: tell the truth. And if someone powerful gets angry, you are probably on the right track.

3) Now that I've thought about it, I think it is rather infantile and narcissistic for a bunch of american actors and writers to sit around constructing a play about censorship. Randomly stop anyone on the street and ask them what is most important to them, of all their pressing concerns. I am not sure that artistic freedom of speech will turn up high on the list. I suppose it makes people feel good to feel like victims. And that is their right. But, I have an idea that will cure everyone of their 'stop it' idea in no time: go rent Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels (starring Veronica Lake, it was a popular movie back in early 40's, or at least I think it was popular) and then drop by the liquor store and pick up a couple bottles of Scotch. Watch the movie, and have a few drinks, talk among yourselves, and carry on a bit. Tell funny stories (the Scotch will help). Now take a long walk (it must be 1 or 2 AM when the movie and carrying on is over). Don't worry that it is winter: the cooler the better. Then go home and really sleep. When you wake up, look at yourself in the mirror for a while. If you still want to do a play about censorship, you have two options: 1) Quit acting and get a job as a bank teller or Mobile phone sales associate; or 2) produce THE CRUCIBLE because Arthur Miller did it a lot better that you or I could!

Thus ends my rant. Cheers!

d press productions said...

i'll send this along to the various people. and possibly add something in a bit here.