It’s ten to midnight. I just took the bins out as they leave early tomorrow and I won’t be up. Then I methodically worked my way through an entire can of smoked oysters, with toast and copious amounts of hot sauce. I had already eaten supper, but I did it between shows and the nutrition was likely absorbed by adrenaline-speed metabolism in what is likely to prove the LAST lockdown Tempest, oh woe!
I’m zooming in to speak to some drama students about the process we found and the play in general on Wednesday. That’s the only external obligation I have. For now, even though it’s been down for the last ten days, I’m going to keep the living room studio up anyway. It makes it impossible to watch TV. But it’s useful to think about what can be made. In about ten minutes I’ll be calling an old friend and collaborator in New Zealand, who owns the snake. “Is there anything satisfying we can do with this sort of thing?” (Adding to the mix my drunk Amazon morph suit…)
This form is not about the technology or the kit though, as we’ve discovered in Tempest. You don’t need morph suits or flashy lights and a screen that is actually green to tell a story and to make people feel connected to it. They all contribute to deepening the world of course. But the things that brings stupid joy in the watching and the playing is just when people at home who are there with us do honest things and we all get to see it. There’s a delight in catching a glimpse of someone like us who is lost in the story we are all telling. Someone who doesn’t have any investment in controlling and directing the narrative, but who is enjoying the cause and effect of flicking the actor to magically torment him, seeing him be flicked and keeping flicking despite being asked to have mercy.
It’s back to the old “shared experience”. It reminds me of the thing I used to think about with The Odyssey, where it is apparent that the Homeric bard whose one night version we have had taken down was responding live to the interests and desires of his audience. A story doesn’t exist without someone to tell it to. And a true bardic story shifts and morphs in the telling.
As a kid my brother and I used to tell each other stories when we stayed at our grandparent’s or our uncle’s after we were sent to bed. I still remember some of the shit that I made up, all of which was responding to the aspects of this work in progress that my brother showed interest in. We created worlds together, and populated them.
It’s important to remember that stories aren’t definitive. Fairy Tales have many different endings in different versions. Different resurrected Gods were killed and reborn for different purposes, or left dead. All myths have regional variations – even within the Greek and Roman and Norse pantheons that are still influential in our culture, different tales have different outcomes depending on the source. People still polarise over different angles on monotheistic deities or wise men or whether we should salute crows or magpies.
We tell things to the people we tell them to, live. We try to tailor it to be helpful or interesting in the moment. But stories should remain ephemeral and shifting, despite a culture that tries for the definitive (as if that’s possible). Stories are a sea of shifting waves and so they must be because we are too.
The Tempest variant that we all told together is gone now out into the wine dark sea of memory. Even recorded versions that exist will immediately lose their “now”. It’s why I love theatre. I can’t wait to get it back. But this form has been a wonderful discovery and something that will continue to interest me as we patch the world back together.
Meanwhile I’ve got a zoom call to make.