Land of hay bales, local cheese and more animals than people, this region stole away my heart.
Per Tolosa totjorn mai.
Occitan for “For Toulouse, always more”
Known as the Ville Rose (Pink City), Toulouse is aptly named for the rose-colored bricks that make up the facades of the city’s oldest buildings, even as l’ancien meets with the new.
For me, it was a city with a certain well-understood charm – a getaway for French natives in the North in search of a pause from a more pretentious Paris perhaps, or a badly needed kickstart to the everyday routine from those in the surrounding sleepier southwestern towns.
Modernity sits side by side with history as you stroll from the busy midtown walkways to duck into tiny pink cobblestoned backstreets leading towards the river. Everyone headed perpetually towards the river. The site of “Toulouse Plage” for the month (sand and beach games brought in for August), the riverside makes for a cool antidote to the August heat. I loved the outdoor markets, the streetside booksellers, the waterfront cafes, and quiet confidence of the folks there. No in-your-face-flash required, they understood well what their city has to offer.
In John Willett’s compendium of some of Brecht’s most important critical writings, the editor helps to outline the theatremaker’s development of his style. Each letter and article allows for a further glimpse into Brecht’s take on Epic Theatre, acting, and the alienation effect for which his works are so renowned.
On anxiety, Brecht aptly points out:
“In his obscure anxiety not to let the audience get away the actor is immediately so steamed up that he makes it seem the most natural thing in the world to insult one’s father. At the same time it can be seen that acting takes a tremendous lot out of him. And a man who strains himself on the stage is bound, if he is any good, to strain all the people sitting in the stalls.” – From Berliner Börsen-Courier, 1926
Around the same time this article was written, Brecht was insisting on a new type of audience engagement in the form of what he called “ ’smokers’ theatre.” The audience would puff on cigars and look on as if taking in a boxing match, therefore developing a more detached and critical outlook than was possible in the ordinary German theatre. Smoking was verboten in theatres at the time.
“That in a Shakespearean production one man in the stalls with a cigar could bring about the downfall of Western art. He might as well light a bomb as light his cigar. I would be delighted to see our public allowed to smoke during performances. And I’d be delighted mainly for the actor’s sake. In my view it is quite impossible for the actor to play unnatural cramped and old-theatre to a man smoking in the stalls.”
Forever pushing the boundaries of what theatre was “allowed to be” at the time, Brecht paved the way for many in the modern day interactive and absurdist theatre realms. Brecht on Theatre is a delight – like sitting down for a rare and illuminating coffee-date with Brecht himself.
“It is a sign of great inner insecurity to be hostile to the unfamiliar.” – Anais Nin
Have you felt yourself seizing up when presented with something new? A reaction that pushes you to retreat within yourself rather than explore that novelty?
Anais Nin reminds us in her writing that it is very possible to silence such insecurities by opening oneself to unfamiliar terrain.
“When we totally accept a pattern not made by us, not truly our own, we wither and die. People’s conventional structure is often a façade. Under the most rigid conventionality there is often an individual, a human being with original thoughts or inventive fantasy, which he does not dare expose for fear of ridicule, and this is what the writer and artist are willing to do for us. They are guides and map makers to greater sincerity. They are useful, in fact indispensable, to the community. They keep before our eyes the variations which make human beings so interesting.”
Might just be your time to become a cartographer.
Especially it if you plan to map it out for others to navigate on their own one day.
In the midst of creating new patterns for yourself? Make sure you have the first ingredient.
“Things start out as hopes and end up as habits.”
– Lillian Hellman
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Thoughts on Theatre went in for a touch up last night and now the blog is sporting a whole new look!
In addition to a new streamlined look, there is also a new category to present: Travelogues. As more and more content popped up in the realm of travel, it seems appropriate to give it a home. This is especially true as we will feature more travel stories in the future as we delve more into the world of See Rock City & Other Destinations.
The musical takes place in the following six locales:
1. Rock City 2. Area 51 3. Glacier Bay 4. Alamo 5. Coney Island 6. Niagara Falls
And I’m looking for insight from all of you! Have you traveled to one of these destinations? Do you have wild story about your time there and pictures to match?
I will be doing an interview series in the next few months on these places as well as other notable American landmarks (Route 66! Grand Canyon! Yellowstone!).
If you would like to share your memories and be a part of the fun drop me a line at:
colorandlighttheatre [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject line See Rock City Interview.
So that’s the update! Thanks everyone for all of your support, thoughtful comments, and wonderful questions thus far. Here’s to making more memories together!
zeitgeist: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
As most of you readers well know, I love me some historical theatre. Something about the medium allows you to explore the essence of the time without even noticing that you’re learning something new. But how does a playwright or composer take us back to that period without having the material feel antiquated? For Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, this meant reinvisioning that 7th president’s life as that of an emo rock concert. And in another new project from that same composer, Paris Commune, it means infusing 200 year old music with a healthy dose of novelty.
The Paris Commune is revered as the first socialist revolution in Europe. Citizens rallied together, overthrew the government and had control for just over 70 days. This theatre piece delves into this explosive intersection between unrest and artistic expression by centering on the giant concert that the people threw when they took over the TuileriesPalace.
The piece is extraordinary political. Although it focuses’ on an undeniably French event, its tremors of activism resonate with the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and grassroots movements that we have seen pop up and define the atmosphere of the past year.
Composer Michael Friedman also brought a new edge to this centuries-old story by using the period music as his base material and translating and adapting the lyrics to “make songs that were dangerous in 1871 still feel dangerous today.”
As for whether or not the piece is activist theatre, Friedman charges that it is most likely a mirror rather than a call to arms. At its heart, the show offers the questions of : “At what point do you realize that you have to do something? At what point do you have to seize control of your own life?” – questions that are important, universal and clues to why the theatre is still kicking.
A short reminder that obstacles are never entirely what they seem.
Cobble together and decollage your past to create a creation to rival Shelley’s –
All the working pieces but lacking the ephemeral spark of life.
Copy your old patterns and wonder why nothing changes.
Familiar patterns make for familiar feelings, friend.
His and herstory will repeat themselves
Without the injection of something new.
How long will you circle along the same loop
Before realizing the whole world awaits you?
It might be this little gem of a show, Lizzie Borden, a rock musical about the most infamous trial of the 1800s that’s currently receiving a treatment at the Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals (where both Next to Normal and Million Dollar Quartet were developed before their successful Broadway stints).
Belting ladies, Victorian Versace-inspired rock wear, and a whole lot a venom in this powerhouse of a show. And the entire show’s told only using four female characters! Lizzie, her sister Emma, the housemaid and the next door neighbor/possible secret love interest. Here’s hoping that it makes the hop over to New York soon.
If it’s been a while since you’ve done something for the very first time, challenge yourself to find a new way. You never know what surprise it may bring.
“If no one ever took risks, Michaelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor.”
– Neil Simon
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I’m out and about this week guys, exploring and wandering around strange and wild lands. Until I’m back and can tell you all about it, enjoy the petit posts.
Original Image found here