Blogging Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Me vs Jarry
1. Jarry came to believe that crowd scenes were cumbersome and should be replaced with individual actors who represented "The crowd." In spirit I agree, but think that in this instance we will be better served by a large cast.
2. Symbolism: YES, but tempered with expressionism! The symbolists put all their faith in Imagination, and for a "schoolboy farce" that seems like the way to go. I think the key to design here--set and costumes-- is a kind of stylized blankness. The set should be useful, and interesting, but also empty. I don't mean to say it should be a totally "empty space," but it needs to allow for everything, while appearing to be nothing. The blanker and emptier the space, the more powerful the "symbols" we choose to present will be (see the Kandinsky). The space must be versitile and multifunctional.
In a cluttered, vibrant space a colorful splash, intentional anachronism might vanish. In a blank space these things will stand out. On the other hand the space must be defined in such a way that characters/objects can be framed within the space and do not disappear into a totally empty void.
3. The general feel: I'd like for the play to occur--not "out of time"--but as if all time was happening at once. We may introduce props and costume elements from any period, at any time without any temporal logic governing what elements we introduce. The general space (set/costume) must be blank enough to make our "symbols" pop.
4. Costumes: There's a part of me that wants to put everyone in some kind of "tightie whitie" underwear--not only does the King have no clothes, neither do his subjects--and add hats, coats, boots, medals, insignia, capes etc. etc. But this may be a passing fancy, and a bit too over-the-top. Generally the costumes need to be blank slates so that the defining "symbols" pop. On the other hand we can't have everybody in shapeless smocks etc. The blankness needs style.
OR we could go with something stylized, but contemporary.
5. Notes on flags, swirls, red eagles/ yellow ribbins etc: I was thinking about ditching Ubu's traditional "swirl/golden mean" but have changed my mind. It immediatly represents eternity/"same as it ever was," and calls to mind the swirling waters of the "shitter." In fact, it could be nice to have a lighting effect that would allow this shape to spin on the floor from time to time, especially at the end as the characters paddle about a whirlpool on their way down the crapper.
6. Set changes: NO! (or as little as we can get away with). Any set elements we add must be brought on organically, or at least swiftly and quietly to avoid set changes. I don't want set changes, but if we need them they must either become a part of the action or happen unnoticed.
7. I like Jarry's idea of "hanging the horsehead" on actors who are supposed to be riding a horse. Can we extend this notion to battleships & tanks?
The army: instead of having guns and swords I imagine them to be outfitted with weedeaters, and leaf blowers--- things of that nature. Maybe umbrellas.
Posted by Chris Davis at 2:06 PM