Monday, May 24, 2010

Theater Equivalent of Jazz Performance?

Remember how I was going to keep a blog? Yea, about that…maybe I’ll be make this a every-two-weeks deal to keep myself on track. Another performance post for you…

My boyfriend’s friend is in a jazz band and we saw them play on Friday. There were about 6 people in the audience. I wanted to move seats so the venue would look more crowded. But, what I noticed was, the musicians’ expressions. They were caressing their instruments, some of their eyes elsewhere, their hands feeling out the instrument instead of looking at it. And the energy is so , so palpable. And that atmosphere was so, so casual. I talked to the friend, and mentioned how, with theater, actors can tell when there’s a small crowd and it effects their performance. But these gents might as well have been playing for 100 or 1,000!

“We’re just hanging out,” the friend said. Now, I cannot imagine a formal stage actor, saying that about a small house. There’s scampering and teeth-gritting and last minute phone calls the day of to fill seats. What is the theatre equivalent of jazz musicians “just hanging out”? Is it 360 Storytelling ( Improvisation? Or are there Broadway performers and regional stars wo “just hang out”? And let loose, and have fun, and 100% play for the play. Because, when you’re just hanging out, the art flows so freely and you’re just doing what you’re feeling and relaxing the sound out of you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. I like this post--very thoughtful. I don't know as much as you do about theater, but I do feel like I can relate from a publishing standpoint. We're always telling authors that they have to write because they have to write, not because they have to be published. That you have to be in love with it before you can convince anyone else to be. That if you're comfortably caught up in your characters, there's a good chance your audience will be spellbound, too.

    But publishing is a world full of glamor and heartbreak, and the majority of writers are bound to rejection--so it's hard to truly focus on "just hanging out." Seems the same with acting, to me, and even with music. Though perhaps a part of the key is the collaborative aspect to music. Maybe what helps is being in a group of people who know the industry and who love it--having that support and guidance, a sense of acceptance with those people at the very least, and a reminder that you do this because you love the people and the environment.

    I've seen that exist in theater groups, though I can't pinpoint a specific type of theater. And I've seen it in dance--the Effervescent Collective comes to mind. It's always nice when you get the sense that an artist cares about your reaction, but would be doing the same thing nonetheless even if you didn't exist.