Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Climbin' the fourth wall.

After leaving Dr. Burton's office today,  I was reminded of the readings that are due tomorrow, but....

I so badly wanted to go climbing.  

Climbing?  Or reading.  Outdoors or indoors.....


I chose both.

While I sat there and read Death of a Salesman atop an orange peak, I thought, If this was being performed live, in front of me, how well would I pay attention?  

I probably wouldn't pay attention.  I would be distracted by the huge green mountains, and the ardent wind.  All the elements that would be vying for my attention...would definitely win.

Even while reading, God's hand was trying to flip the pages, testing my attention span...

That got me thinking about the physical setting of a play or stage production.  The importance of set construction and how well a director can draw you into a scene, simply by what is visually presented or represented.  

Edward Albee said this: "A play exists on the page completely as an artwork if it is an artwork, but for anybody to really involve themselves in has to be performed." 

So, with that in mind, I want to argue that an audience can be more emotionally involved in a performance--more engaged in a production--when any and all other distractions are cancelled out.  This sounds like a Duh thing, but I think that's why I'm not the biggest fan of theater "in the round," or Shakespeare in the Park kind of stuff.  In the round, I can see other audience members.  They're backstage, from my viewpoint.

I prefer to truly be transported into another world of sorts.  Where I can "assume that [I'm] watching the action as if the fourth wall of the room has been removed so that [I] can look in on the private lives" of a number of different characters.


  1. You've got balance, Jamie. I admire that.

  2. I like that you talked about how distracting things around us can be. When we talked about Shakespeare in the Park on Tuesday in class I was worried that I was the only one who was distracted by the baseball players and kids dancing and the wind and the grass and the trees, etc. It seems easier when there are less distractions around.

  3. I love outdoor amphitheaters. It's hard to describe, but there's an element of the sublime in the whole "what are men to rocks and mountains" setting. Death of a Salesman in the Rocky Mountains would be 10x better. Although Burton & I agree that the outdoor production of Macbeth circa 2005 sucked.

    I do think that it is harder and harder to shut out those distractions. Like, I want to screen Virginia Woolf, but it won't be the same as a hushed theater in the 1960s.

    I, too, read part of the Miller play out of doors (just outside the HRCB, nothing photo-worthy). It was sort of chilly so I went inside, then out again. I can only focus when I can sit down and read the thing straight through.

    After this term, my family is pilgrimaging to Cedar City for the Shakespeare Festival. Now those are truly immersive stagings. There's nothing else really going on, if that makes sense: not that much to do. Tuacahn is staged outside, and it can be distracting, or not, depending. I thought it was a good setting for Aladdin, for instance, which takes place in the desert. (Dubious literary worth, ha.)

    I love hiking for the solitude and lack of distraction it gives. I think that's the thread of my contradictory thoughts: full immersion and cognition can happen hiking, immersed in a good play, or even with a darkened basement and a good film.