Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Images, art & religion

I had a couple of thoughts collide this morning. Early this morning alas. The first was that art begins at the first point of information contact with a potential audience. By that I mean that for most indie companies it is the advertising/marketing materials which should be one of the strongest artistic points of a production. A provocative, seminal, arresting, deep image will set the tone and expectations in a profound way. Or conversely something quirky and attention getting. If, like that terrible old saw, you only have one chance to make a first impression, then this material is your first impression.

I love these two images as the first {Sex and the Saudi} stamps the story immediately and the second {Arm's Length} intrigues one in. {Both shows at Summerworks www.summerworks.ca  I seem to have used up all my space for this post so some links won't stick}

I was told by a producer that I really respect that one of our posters looked like it should be in an art gallery. He didn’t mean it as a compliment. He felt that it did not do enough to sell the show. I felt caught between God and Mammon. Ok a bit of hyperbole but you get my drift. Was it about the art of first contact or to sell the show or to strive to find a perfect balance?

The second early morning idea was that without the knowledge of Judeo-Christian religion it is much harder to understand a great deal of Western Art/Theatre/Culture. Ok you can throw in Greek and Roman mythology as a bit of seasoning.

Here is the image {http://www.canstage.com/2008-2009/play.php?ID=17} for Studio 180’s production of Blackbird. A simple shot of an apple and yet:

Apple = Garden of Eden = Original Sin = Forbidden Fruit = a play about pedophilia.

I love the idea that it’s a Golden Delicious Apple as well. All of that works as long as you know your history and Christianity.

And if you don’t? Well then how much time would you have to spend to explain it? No time at all if you are writing as one of the main stream culture but it struck me that playwrights who are coming from other cultures where an audience here might not know all of the cultural modifiers now have a bit of a dilemma. Do they spend time doing exposition to explain, do they leave it up to program notes or do they just forget about it and let people catch as catch can. 

I was coaching an actor the other day and one of the lines referenced “Cupids strongest bow”. I asked her what was her image of Cupid and then did a Google search for images. Well the Valentine’s Day chubby came up alongside of paintings of Cupid making love to Pysche. You could use either image for your poster or for your imaging of the text. They would each tell a hugely different story and would skew the perception of your play. And that is the point isn’t it? To shape that first reception perception and to use cultural context to enhance the work.

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