Sunday, January 24, 2010

Apropos Live Theatre

The Book of Everything

My daughters (8 and 12-soon to be 13 y.o.) were initiated to live theatre last night. We saw The Book of Everything at the Belvoir St Theatre. There is much to write about the experience and keeping the focus in this blog will be a challenge.

The play was fantastic: the actors, scenes, visual and sound effects and the script were all staged and directed most effectively. It was very entertaining and thought-provoking. In the course of 2 1/2 hours, it became clear why Thomas, the 9-soon-to-be-10y.o. main protagonist, wantED to be happy when he grows up....and what happiness means. In this context: it was articulated by Mrs Van Amersfoot --> happiness is not to fear anything.

My eldest loves performing and has had considerable experience in the amateur league, including being part of the Hornsby Musical Society's Annie, when she was 9. It was good for her to see how professional productions are different, yet the same. It was good for her to see how thoughts and emotions can be conveyed using sounds, lights, music, props, body movements, facial expressions and spoken lines. Among my favourites was how 'floating on air due to happiness' was depicted.

Live theatre is interactive: actors provoke and take in cues from the audience. Audience laughter, clapping, gasps and silences become part of the theatrical performance. In this show, we got to help enact the 'plague of frogs' by throwing frogs (green ping-pong balls) and making frog noises. As part of the closing scenes, some kids were invited to the stage. My two girls were among them; frankly, my 8 y.o. looked flabbergasted but she went anyway. The other was, as mentioned, a natural performer so she was in her element.

Live theatre is busy: there is so much to look at. There are no zoom shots, but spotlights help the audience to focus. Last night, we could see how Eliza's leather-leg was made squeaky as she walked. We saw actors come and go. We saw scenes transform...the use of a gigantic book for scene changes was creative, effective, simple and amazingly good.

My youngest said at the end, "Can we watch it again?" Obviously, she enjoyed it. She has only known movies and dvds that can be seen over and over again, at the touch of a button! Even if it wasn't a question of money (live theatre is more expensive than going to the movies) the experience could not be easily replicated. Mind you, I find it amazing that actors (stage crew, etc) churn out performances with presumably the same level of quality for each show; I guess that's what you pay for.

Anyway, it was a most enjoyable experience, highly-recommended....may there be more.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Apropos Connectivity

Apropos Connectivity

I ended my last post with a 'promise' to explore connections and it's effect on the 'I'. It's taken me a while but here I am now.

Relationships are connections between various 'I's; that is, individuals relate to other individuals. Connections can be face-to-face or digital (or analogue, paper-based, etc). Regardless, this is no longer a question of virtual vs. real. More often than not, digital communities are real, i.e. a branching out, if you will, of relationships that exist in the "real world".

In a sense, there's never been a better time in history to connect. For those who choose to connect, technology is breaking down barriers of time, space, age, culture and race. It is possible to connect with anyone who wants to connect.

I see the effect on each 'I' to be three-fold: diversify, replicate, individualise.

It is possible to belong to different communities, each one feeding a personal need or interest. New interests can be discovered and pursued. One can be an expert in one field and a beginner in another. Various perspectives and contexts can be explored.

Each person is unique. Herein lies the irony, the more one diversifies and be like others in those contexts, the more one becomes individualised. In other words, an increase in connections increases the combinations that make up an individual. This is making a huge, though highly plausible, assumption that no two individuals have exactly the same connections, least of all perceptions.

In each meaningful connection, we leave a bit of ourselves in the other...and vice versa. Our existence becomes entwined in the tapestry of the other. Our views, values and stories live on beyond the physical 'I'. Of course, this consequence can and has been used as a propaganda-machine. Nevertheless, it can be positive. Mothers use their social network to replicate themselves; usually, this is not a 'big brother' approach but rather a way for mothers to ensure the safety of their brood.

In summary,
Each individual has a unique set of connections, a network of communities. This helps define the person, in constant evolution, whilst enabling him/her to reach out and belong.

What I haven't explored is the levels, layers, or degree of connectivity. That may take a while again.