Feb. 1st, 2015
Let me tell you a story about one of the most influential classes I ever took. My Senior year at Springfield college my advisor told me to take "the inter-arts workshop." The hell is that? I wondered. No one knew but most of my artist friends were told to take it, too.
I showed up on the first day, the class was held in the theater, and I saw 30-odd artists from varying disciplines. On the stage, five professors lead the class: the department heads for art, CG, dance, music, and theater. Finally, the theater professor announced the purpose of this massive, mysterious, multi-disciplinary undertaking: we were going to put on a performance, somewhere between a play and performance art based on the iconic Fahrenheit 451.
"Well then, this has all the potential for greatness!" I thought.
After a couple of brainstorming sessions the first task was dividing the students into camps, like writers, actors, music, set design, and such. I had finished the first version of Apprentice by this point and thought myself a writer, if only accidentally, so I joined the writing group. Also, the brainstorming sessions had evoked little other than wild LSD-inspired silliness (lets have the whole thing be in a nightclub and the firemen burn drinks instead of books!) and I wanted to protect the script from utter absurdity. Fortunately, the other writers agreed and the final script was close to the source material, titled "Pleasure to Burn." I was pretty excited.
Sadly, it wasn't enough. The performance art elements sneaked in, infectiously. Parts of it were really good, there was a chase scene we had filmed beforehand and showed on screen, a group of xylophone players provided gorgeous ambiance to the river scene at the end, and dancers in silky red and yellow costumes performed the fire. Other parts were not so good. They added a random ballet dance with industrial techno music over it to show the dichotomy of...something I didn't understand. Two actors played the lead role of Clarice and they tagged off in mid-sentence. We built columns with 3 sides so we could rotate them to show different settings, unfortunately someone decided the paintings should be purely abstract. It was a mess.
In my final paper I discussed most of what you see here, my thoughts and contributions to the project. But I came to one final conclusion: this could have - should have - been a masterpiece. We had so much talent in the room but there was one essential element missing: a director. The theater head officially had the job but he was not providing a singular vision.
Ever since then I've wanted to be a director. I keep wondering what I would have done if I had been the director of Pleasure to Burn. I'd redo it all from scratch, for starters, but even now I myself don't have that singular vision the project so desperately required. Do I have the skill? The managerial/coordinationl/organizational/social skills that a good director needs? I don't know, but someday I hope to find out.