Let's write a play. What do we need? We need humans in a place. Let's start with the former.
Theatre is about humans watching humans. Some will perform, we'll call them performers, while the others watch, we'll call them the audience. Maybe they're all performing? Maybe no one is performing? I don't want to sound like a cold-blooded dictator, but I'll just go on and decide that this play is the kind of play where, roughly, someone will perform/be/frame, while the others will watch/listen/feel/think.
Maybe in the future theatre will be less anthropocentric. But this is what I've learned to be true. I wouldn't necessarily want to leave animals out of it, but for the time being I will.
You can consider using something else for your play, too, like lightning, sound, costumes, and so forth. But if you have a human being on stage, the humans in the audience will interpret everything through that being. For example, if there's white noise playing from the speakers, the audience will think it's a symbol for the chaos in the mind of the performer. Or maybe we should say in the mind of the character the human is performing.
But what kind of human(s) should we choose, both as audience members and performers? Are all humans the same? What qualities should they possess, and do we need different qualities for the audience and the performers? What if everyone in the audience is not deaf?
We will also need a place for the play. It could happen online, in multiple locations at once, a concept happening in everyone's head, a big hall, public or private space, in or out, or whatever. In regards to the last paragraph, what kinds of humans will come to the place we select? Will the space feel the same for everyone, or does it have wildly different connotations to some? Again, does it have to have certain qualities? What if everyone doesn't feel safe in there?
One could consider randomness in the selection process. Or just choosing whatever's the easiest. So, what if we just take the humans we have around us, into a place we already have effortless access to? Will the play then be about the places we have access to, and the kinds of humans we know & want to be with?
Are there humans we don't want there? Are there places we absolutely do not want to be in? Why am I saying we, since it's me who's doing all these decisions, I wonder.
OK, so I am doing a play. I'm thinking about humans and I' thinking about places. This is not about me trying to teach you a lesson, no. It's about me. The play is, then, also about me. Could it be about something else? I'm rushing into things. I need to figure out the humans and the place first.
Maybe I should begin from the idea itself, and its raison d'etre, ie. its reason for existence. Why play? Sorry, I mean why a play? In the beginning, I said that, for the time being at least, theatre is about humans watching humans. I didn't say this then, but I'll say it now: I thought of "watching" as catering to all senses and modes of consuming art, not necessarily that the play is meant for people who can see, or that it has to happen under such conditions where one can see the other.
Additionally, my description of a theatre play could be revised. It could also be humans thinking through humans. I need to be a vegan and not exploit animals, but should I also work with animals? There are animals such as blue whales and chimpanzees who are seemingly very intelligent. But is intelligence a must here? Since my thinking of interspecies activities is so basic, I feel I should not think of animals, plants or anything else than humans now. I could talk about animals in the play, I mean the characters could tackle the issues of animal rights, for example. This would force me, as a playwright, to dig deeper, I think. But for now, I would like to decide what I'm doing here, to understand at least the basic premises. This is not a joke or a lesson in language+meanings. I'm really trying to figure something out here. And I hate that I spoiled the beautiful thought structure (short, somewhat thight paragraphs) I had going here.
Clearly, I lack a sense of urgency. I might as well not do the play. Though someone has commissioned me to do a play, or a performance, and the premiere is later this year. Could I do the play without any work beforehand? I'm sure it would suit the description of a play: for example, I could print a play by Minna Canth on the day of the premiere, and ask a human or two to go read it out loud in front of an audience. But where would they read it and to whom? It would be possible to let the commissioner (it's a theatre festival) answer these questions. The theatre festival could just inform me about the time and place of the premiere, and if there's anything I should take into account. I could give someone else the rights to act as my representative in the planning sessions for the festival & my piece. This way, I could do something else instead of putting together the play. I could do voluntary work, help other living beings (and not be stuck with humans). But this person, my representative, could also do the same instead of working on my play. And the same goes for the festival staff, too. But I can't really affect the staff, since I imagine they really want to do their festival and there's nothing I can do to change their minds. Most likely the train has already left the station, they have received grants and other funds and maybe already spent some of them on rent, salary, travel, and they've promised other humans that they will all get a chance to do their plays on the festival. What I can do, really, in regards to the festival, is to leave myself out of it. Just to be sure, I want to stress I don't have any opinion about the festival. I know some of its humans and I think they are wonderful, loving beings. I've enjoyed my time in the festival in earlier years. I'm sure I would enjoy myself this time, too. It's not really about my enjoyment or whether the festival should exist or not.
It seems I need to go back a bit. So let's begin from the beginning anew.
1. Could I still not do the play?
- I think I could, but I don't have any particular reason not do it. Also, it might make other people's lives harder, or at least harden their job in some ways.
- I don't have any reason to do the play. I could go on without it. Or could I? What about my career as an artist: you know, I do art works for living. Or to be more precise, I work in the art world in various positions. So if I say no, will my career fade out? This would mean I should get another job, score unemployment benefits, or just generally figure something else out. Is this decisive? Will this festival either take me in or fade me out? It's about me, again. Should I care how saying yes or no affects my future? But mathematics tells us the future is dependant on countless little things, insofar it's not possible to know the future. If I look at my career in the art world so far, there is no one thing that, if taken out, would destroy it all. But it's also impossible to say that. What has happened, has happened. Of course I've done work in order to make certain things happen, and I've made choices over things and outcomes, but I find it hard to see my career or life as a linear story, something that's easy to take apart. OK I feel like this is not worth repeating or thinking about. So let's cut it short: I say "yes" or I say "no", either way I don't know what will happen next.
- Yes I should. I should do the play. That's what I'm doing now. I'm doing a play.
-> sidenote: should I think about my career more? Like should I try to do a very successful place, so I would have a more stable future and maybe through that get more means to do good in the world (note: I've mentioned things like this a few times in this text, but I am not going to address the question of what is good and what does helping other beings mean, not here at least. Maybe tomorrow. I mean I should of course address since it seems like that's the moral angle, or the starting point to all these questions and my attempts at trying to solve them)? Or should I do what feels right and whatever I think is worth doing? But then, if I don't see any particular value in doing or not doing the play, how should I act?
3. When did this urge to write a play appear? And what's my relationship to the festival?
- it was before the festival commission. [sidenote: could I think about the play as one thing and the work for the festival as another thing?] I guess I just told them I have a play I could do. Well, I think I didn't actually, but instead said that I don't know what I'm doing and I can't promise anything, that it would be best if they'd gave me a fixed sum of money and I would take care of the production of the play totally by myself. But I also suggested that the festival staff could do all the production for me, like deciding what the name is, what promo pictures to use, what kind of press release or introductory text to write, where to have it, how many times I should present the work, how much the tickets should cost, and so on. Furthermore, I encouraged the director of the festival to carry out these decisions in the most effortless way, so they would have as much time for other stuff in their lives & the festival as possible. I've seen festivals and organised them, and I always amaze the amount of work humans do there and whether that works is always required, in order to reach the aim they have. This is the question: what is the aim of that festival? I guess I should ask them so I'd understand them better. Anyway, I don't think anyone from the festival side is waiting for me to do anything specific. So I may as well continue the thought here.
OK now I feel like my mind is blank, like I've done enough thinking for the time being. I need to be, —well you need to be aware of the actual event of writing this. I have a body with piss and water and blood and emotions and aches in it. I can't sit here typing forever. But should I just continue where I left off as soon as I can? I've been having this routine of writing for one hour, non-stop, every day. Usually during the last ten minutes or so of that hour, I start to itch my belly, to run my fingers through my hair, to press my right hand fingers down from the knuckles up with my left hand, things like that. But I really need to think this through. I need to know w
I also recorded a monologue earlier today.