updates connected to the book Idylls for a Bare Stage
& to performances of the Idylls
& other initiatives related to the Art of the Poetic Monologue

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Theory and Technique of the Idyll

Over the past couple of months, on the way towards March 20th's Idylls showcase for Happenings at the Harman, the technique of the Idyll for performance has sharpened in definitiveness.  This development has occurred during conceptual meetings, as well as in rehearsal - part of our practice and process - and not least in relation to a workshop I gave in January at Bloombars (which had the additional bonus of bringing new excellent performers in on the project).

The techniques continue to evolve simply due to gained experience over time, from continuous honing of the theory and vision as expressed here in this blog ("A Shared Imagining" as an interpretation of the nature of the poetry performance form of the Idyll), and through steady application of ideas found in the introduction of my book Idylls for a Bare Stage - that introduction now appearing as an essay titled "Imagination and Performance" in the performance journal Nerve Lantern #6   (officially available on March 18th).  

More and more, we have begun to rehearse consciously on multiple levels of imagination.  I'll give more details and specifics on how we've stylized the performances in relation to imagination - how we actually conduct blocking in the realm of the imaginary - when I post specifically on the Harman show.

Meanwhile next week, on Friday March 8th, for Towson University's 5th annual Geo-aesthetics Conference, we're presenting a program titled A Shared Imagining: Beyond Self-Enclosure in Performance through the theory and technique of the Idyll, featuring performances by Stephen Mead and Natalie Briggs Cutcher.

I hope to post a profile of Natalie in time for the conference.  She'll be performing Anne Ashbaugh's Leda.

And Stephen is with us once again, doing the Street Merchant from my Idyll of the Arabian Nights.

Stephen's complete bio can be found where he's profiled elsewhere on the site, and his more recent appearances in the Washington DC area include All's Well that Ends Well for the Maryland Shakespeare Festival, Romeo and Juliet for Vpstart Crow Theatre Company, and Medieval StoryLand, a hit at the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival;  he is also as an entertainer at local hotels, and has performed programs of his Dickens recitations including his one man show version of A Christmas Carol to acclaim at venues in DC and Virginia.  With the Idylls and SiGiLPAL, he's on his way to Happenings at the Harman, while Murder on the Bare Stage (see October entry) will go to CapFringe in summer 2013.


Stephen Mead as the Street Merchant

Here's some further context about the upcoming Geo-aesthetics Conference presentation (providing a number of indications relevant to the techniques in question)...

When the conference's Call for Abstracts came to my attention, I couldn't help but notice how much the wording of the call, and its concepts, corresponded to our structural sense of what we were doing through performance of the Idylls, including what's explored on this blog, under its title.  

So, I'm posting the call here, as well as a version of my abstract answering that call, for another angle on the uses and intent behind the Idyll form conceived of as "A Shared Imagining."

Call for Abstracts
Fifth Annual Geo-aesthetics Conference
March 8-9, 2013

Geo-aesthetics and World Peace
The International Association for the Study of Environment, Space, and Place will sponsor the Fifth Geo-aesthetics Conference at Towson University. The conference is co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Art at Towson University. 
In the light of the rise of modern subjectivism, one should not be surprised to find out that aesthetic experience has increasingly fallen under the reign of subjectivism. The construction of the individual as a self-enclosed entity has led to the restriction of aesthetic experience to such an enclosure. Accordingly, for many of us, aesthetic experience is a matter of inwardness. It is a matter for what is private. This location has become a refuge where one finds solace or inner peace. This circumscription of aesthetic experience has severed a deeper relation the individual has with others. The encounter with other individuals is often an encounter with other isolated beings. Consequently, aesthetic experience appears foreign to the experience of the common bond that human beings ought to have with one another. The more individuals exclusively cultivate inner peace, the more they become estranged from experiencing the common bond they have with other human beings and, hence, from a truly authentic peace. Since, for us, “to be” is to be “in-the-world”, genuine peace can only be cultivated in an aesthetic experience that is rooted in-the-world and that embraces the bond that all human beings have with one another. The conference seeks to bring together those who are interested in sharing their views on this matter. Since the world is essentially sensuous, participants will share with each other their sense of sensuous rootedness in-the-world and also on how this rootedness bears on world peace. Presentations that seek to affirm or reclaim the sensuous as the site for the generation, preservation, and promotion of the world peace are welcome. 

Presentations of art works, musical performances, poetry readings, and theatrical performances are encouraged.   

A Shared Imagining: Beyond Self-Enclosure in Performance

abstract for a seminar/performance presentation by Magus Magnus

To this day millions still sing along with John Lennon’s “Imagine,” even as we’re more likely to come across bumper stickers which read “Visualize Whirled Peas” rather than “Visualize World Peace.”  Thus, there is some acknowledgement that the practice of extending the inner world outwardly, en masse – through imagination and conscious visualization – has a part in healing the earth and humanity. 

...through years of engagement with the poetic performance form of the Idyll, a practice has emerged which encourages people in becoming conscious and purposeful in creation of an open bond between themselves as performers (or speakers of any kind) and their audience, as opposed to retaining the usual self-enclosure of “delivery” – the practice comes out of interpreting the Idyll, from its roots in Theocritus, as a “shared imagining.”  Participation in the theory and techniques of the Idyll helps hone approaches to performance and text in which boundaries between artist and audience are dissolved in strengthened awareness of a common bond.  Also, the seminar will include – or could consist solely of – performances demonstrating such an approach, bringing the audience into full consciousness of a communal mental space, often experienced as an “evolutionary” sense of multiplicity in the relational possibilities of self with others. Much of the content of this presentation is an entry into ideas formulated in the introduction of Magus Magnus’ book Idylls for a Bare Stage (twentythreebooks, 2011, Towson); forthcoming at about the time of the conference, the book introduction will be republished as an essay titled “Imagination and Performance” in the journal Nerve Lantern: Axon of Performance Literature.

Indeed, the seminar will consist almost solely of Natalie's and Stephen's performance, with brief outlining of the shared imaging concept, towards bringing our audience to a consciousness of their engagement in this shared imagining - something only possible in live theater and, at this level of conscious practice, something unique to the poetic performance form of the Idyll.