Designing for live performance





Peter Brooks - THE EMPTY SPACE

reading response

Chapter 1: The Deadly Theatre


     The reading about stages and spaces evoked my memory about the Seven Ages of Man Speech in Shakespeare's As You Like It, " All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players" (Act 2, Scene 7).  I feel like our lives are performances, some days we do not always give it our best and some moments we deliver spectacular performances.  I have never heard of Brook's description of the Theatre as a Whore comparing the way patron's pay for pleasure of a specified amount of time and then leave. I appreciate how he elaborates on the creative process with plays and the challenge of form with actors and audiences, “They recognize that the only way to find the true path to the speaking of a word is through a process that parallels the original creative one” (Brook, 12).   Brook talks about the ephemeral quality or style of the theatre and “From the day it is set something invisible is beginning to die” (Brook, 15).  I associated this idea of a Deadly Theatre with the scene from Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Alejandro Iñárritu, 2014) Where Riggan (Michael Keaton) is preparing for the opening night of his play and he interacts with the Theatre Critic.  


The Scene is a great example of how the critic can "Kill a Play" and how I am beginning to understand how the theatre can be deadly.  The livelihood of people in theatre soars or sinks from the reviews of critics.  

Brook examines the performance, and how an actor can be killed or thrive from that live audience.  The adrenaline of all the eyes and ears of a full hall focused on a scene is amazing, and I appreciate how he describes, “When this was ended, no explanations were needed, the audience had seen itself in action, it had seen how many layers silence can contain” (Brook, 28.)    That these are brief moments, several hours that are full of material that hopefully keep the audience engaged, entertained and perhaps inspired by what they watch.  


Chapter 4: The Immediate Theatre


Brook writes about the process of detailing the scenes on stage and I find it refreshing to read about work that goes into producing the play.  He discusses how actor's may deliver great performances during rehearsal, yet when they are in costume, they do not measure up to their delivery.  On costume and set design, “A costume doesn’t just come out of the designer’s head: it springs from a background” (Brook, 125).  The Background is the scene, the time and place, the other cast members, the actor's style and work.  Furthermore the actor has to be Sincere and Insincere, to lie truthfully.  Since my background is in Film and Media Theory, a great deal is derived from the theatre.  When Brook discusses the performance on stage where, “Moments of dialogue linked by a rhythm of silences of unequal duration in a film would be sustained by close shots and other silent, related images” (Brook, 151.)  I can imagine how the performance must be to accomplish something great.  He articulates this idea well from the performer, “If the actor can catch the spectator’s interest, thus lower his defenses and then coax the spectator to an unexpected position or an awareness of a clash of opposing beliefs, of absolute contradictions, then the audience becomes more active” (Brook, 159.)  In this reading I have been reminded of the evanescent quality of the theatre, the live experience and why it is distinguished.  My Passion is oriented around Music and would echo his statement, “Music is the one thing that makes life tolerable for a great number of people” (Brook, 168.)  My times of playing piano or live performance with improvisation have that fleeting quality that can not be grasped yet are cherished forever.  




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Some questions to ask a Play


I appreciate this text as it serves as a checklist to creating a world.  I would have valued greatly to have had this as I was creating films however I will keep this as a go-to guide for creating worlds.   


I particularly enjoy the illustrations.  


This guide has all the questions one could ever hope to answer in creating the world for their envisioned story.  I value a quote from Red Burns, In Her Own Words - "Understand the question, before looking for the answers"  "That you look for the question, not the solution."  This reference enables me to look for the question that I may ask myself at any given creative moment, and I am thankful to use EF's Visit to a Small Planet as the question source.  










Response to Aunt Dan and Lemon

via Elinor Fuchs Questions about World:  

The World of the Play is interior at evening time after the sun has gone down but still light outside.  It is in the living room of a residence.  The space is wide open yet filled with a dining table and a couch positioned at the television.  We are in a metropolitan area, ambient city sounds.  

Time behaves normal during the conversations of scene.  There are flashbacks and time stands still when the narrator directly addresses the audience.  It is leisurely, the scenes are in Zulu time, Eastern-Pacific Standard time.  The time-lapses of lives are there for reference by the narrator.  

Climate is a hot summer in late August.  The ambiance is humid on the brink of a monsoon thunderstorm.  Flashes of lightning in the clouds at the horizon.  There are old foliages resembling plant life failing to exist in the concrete jungle.  

The mood is melancholy, lethargic and gregarious.  People are sociable and depressing.  They are happy they speak and the joy rapidly fades after the first sentence spoken.  The tone is coarse and passionate to resonate with a firm emotional impact.  The mood evokes a decaying life with sepia tones suffocating the drab olive, brown, orange and dull yellow finishes of the decor.

The unseen spaces resemble the seen world.  There is nothing hidden in the beautiful decaying world.  The honesty is humiliating and passionately pathetic.  The music is a tired saxophone and drunk trumpet.  The golden touch are the violins that guide us to a sentimental heart warming familiarity of home.  It has a somber drone of cynical laughter and children teasing at a funeral.  

This World is private.  It is a residue of an inconsequential fascist regime.  The patterns make up half circles. A single central figure, Lemon surrounded by her parent's close friend and others.  Figures are in conflict in the subtext.  We do not see the tension but we feel and hear it in the words spoken.  The figures appear from the entrance to the living room.  They are two-dimensional and exaggerated.  They are like puppets and clowns in a suburban sitcom.  I am sure.  They dress in 1960s middle-class American casual attire made of itchy wool and stained cotton polyester blends.  I am sure.  

Figures interact by reasoned discussion with fighting words.  A fascist regime has power on this planet and it is achieved through propaganda and military enforcement.  It is exercised over everyone, comply or die.  The language habits on this planet are in prose and monologue certainly.  Reflection and flashback predominates the thoughts and feelings.  The reminiscence of a fantasy past.  The feelings of pessimism and cynicism flood a flat language full of metaphors.  There are exuberant silences that force us to hope for the future and act in the present.  

It is essential to pass through the gate of the central image to get from the first to the last.  We need to have our imaginations manipulated into truthful accounts of horror and die vicariously with the facts.  We need to discuss this tragedy with the present regime and discover the regime is in power to lose it.  

The landscape of the world changes from dull and lifeless to blossoming jovial vibrance.  Plants grow green leaves from dehydrated branches.  Humidity cools into a thriving breeze.  The storm washes the dust from the concrete and renews the finishes of architecture.  Time moves from dusk to night.  Time moves from present to past in retrospect, flashbacks occur in daylight or night depending on the reference.  Language becomes more sincere and optimism fills the moods of the figures.  They dress comfortably with confidence.  The tones develop sophistication.  

Action changes from negative historical examinations to nurturing harmonious relationships.  From suffering to rebirth.  The grave does not change.  We realize dull fate is not a life to live and an essence of euphoria must be kindled to enjoy it. We progress from the living room to the jubilant city streets on a warm moonlit summer night.  The hope resonates in the clarity of green plant life illuminated at night by both the moon and city street lights.  

This world has demanded me to examine my own life.  It asks me for pity in underprivileged scenarios and to fear the recklessness of power / authority.  It asks me to reason out greed in exchange for the harmony of equality and opportunity.  It asks me to interact with other spectators to inquire if they received a similar reaction.  To leave the theater and discuss the political action necessary for the future to thrive and not suffer from hegemonic designs in the present.  It asks us to find an ethical being within our shallow cores.  It is an entertaining world because of the transformation.  It makes the intention known by inspiring action from the transformation.

There are two performances signaling to me from inside this world.  They echo Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window and Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump.  There is an invaluable entertainment in the discovery of watching the triumph from tragedy.         

Simple Sentence

Aunt Dan and Lemon is just a play to talk about fascist atrocities.  

Aunt Dan and Lemon is about dismissing the horror of immorality.  

Aunt Dan and Lemon is about explaining away crimes perpetrated by regimes through an objective perspective.  It undermines the emotional trauma and personal experience of the victims.  





I printed out my visual artwork in black and white and wrapped it around a shoe box.  I cut up a gold Lei and used the leaves to symbolize the greed of powerful entities that drain the color from artwork for their gain.    





Response to Hedwig and the angry inch

via Elinor Fuchs Questions about World:

Space on this planet is exterior, cityscape.  Space is contained within brick buildings and neon lights.  I see a long passage within many interior flashbacks.  We are in a war torn city.  Time behaves like montage from present day to the cold war era.  It is marked through the shifts of daylight and night time.  


The climate is gloomy, partly cloudy.  We have a cold chill infecting the landscape.  The mood is cynical and sad.  It is not serious.  The tone is lively and sarcastic.  The mood and tone are created through music and drag performance themes.  It gives a Las Vegas twist to a Cold War era drama.  This is a public world with private matters.  Its class rules are escaping the face of socialism to a life in capitalism.


I see both groups in action caught in the middle of isolated individuals.  The single central figure is Hedwig surrounded by the band.  The figures are exaggerated and two-dimensional.  They dress in drag and have elaborate hair pieces.  I am sure.  Figures interact through song and dance, unreasonable discussions.  Two ways of governing people have power on this planet.  It is achieved through military force and law.  It is exercised over all peoples.  


The language habits are verse dialogue.  The language of rock stars predominates a thoughts and feelings of remorse.  Language colorful and coarse.  Silences offer a moment to reflect on the emotion.  


The background changes from the past to present.  It moves from outside the city and walls to inside a dim lit bedroom, crater, office.  Time moves from day to night, night to day.  We have moved from remorse to satirical gratitude.   Tragicomedy.  The neon lights remain a fixed accessory to all the scenes in the world.  It is the same world returned to a present day conversation with neon light adjustments.  


This world asks me for pity and has demanded me to honor the extravagance.  It asks me to appreciate the opportunity.  It makes a mess of the audience in participation.  It makes me think of the stories that are in the world and where people are coming from.  Entertaining without the intention known.  




Hedwig and the angry inch is just about transgender disguise escaping the cold war and being a rockstar.  



Hedwig and the angry inch is an examination of love and the human dilemma from myth to modern mystery.


WEek 4

Simple sentence and complex Sentence

Hedwig and the angry inch is about love, self acceptance and hope for the future.


Hedwig and the angry inch is about a compromise for a better life.   The internal struggle of self acceptance and believing love will lead an optimistic view of life to fulfill a void with transgender identity crisis.  


The scene I am envisioning is for the "Origin of love" so I am considering renaissance art and modern neo-classical architecture, lighting and design.  

THE ORIGIN OF LOVE   ~ Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

THE ORIGIN OF LOVE   ~ Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

Look and Feel

Look and Feel

Lighting Aesthetic

Lighting Aesthetic




Written by James Graham 

fuchs questions 


Space is an interior, in an office, restaurant and car.  Wide open are the transitions of time and place.  I see the stations of the therapist, restaurant scenes and car encounters.  The landscape is metropolitan first world.  

Time is quick and upbeat with slower motions in reflective moments aside.  The climate is cloudy with gaps of intense sunshine.  Autumn surrendering with a wintry finish.  

The mood is business casual, smart and emotionally shallow tone carves the sentimental into suspicious charm. Delicate moods lend an intrusive demonstration of information.  Provoked by music and bold examples of data surprises.  We recognize the playful scores similar to those composed by Thomas Newman in American Beauty(1999).   

This is a private world made public.  Self Reflexive perspective on data indeterminism of how information effects our current social experience.  The single central figure surrounded by a group in several experiences.  We see the tension of interlocking triangles.  Figures appear two-dimensional like advertisements exaggerated in architectural design magazines.  The figures are more like us in a superficial and commercial aspect.  They interact like an infomercial and absurd reasoned discussion. 

The central figure of public and private is the power on this planet and it is achieved in the controversy over the current affair and exercised by including the audience.  The language habits are professional and dry.  Emphatic and enunciated with charm for the delivery.  The dialogue is pushy and predominates the urgency of choice.  Impatient colorful language that clips the logic of the exuberant pace.  Silence delivers the punchline of our intrusive information sequences.  

The intention is to make the hidden or unknown open or make aware of our open agreements about privacy.  It asks us to evaluate our structure and intersection with information, society and how that psychological dynamic shapes us.     

concept sentences image research

Privacy. is just about the settings on our social networking preferences.  

Privacy. is about understanding the interplay of information and participating in sharing our digital selves.   

Privacy. is about understanding the interplay of information and participating in sharing our digital selves.   

Privacy. is a way of provoking us to examine our approach to an identity epidemic of the digitally commonplace.  

Privacy. is a way of provoking us to examine our approach to an identity epidemic of the digitally commonplace.  

Privacy. is about fitting in to the information culture and integrating it into our lifestyle. 

Privacy. is about fitting in to the information culture and integrating it into our lifestyle. 

Privacy. is about the affairs of information and what we define and perceive of public and private data.  It asks us to question the illusion of information security and how we are naive to these agreements and their implications.  

Privacy. is about the affairs of information and what we define and perceive of public and private data.  It asks us to question the illusion of information security and how we are naive to these agreements and their implications.