ThoughtProcess written and produced by Chris Skene.Directed by Chris Skene and Catherine Jean-Krista. Currong Contemporary Arts Theatre. June 19 - 22 and 26 – 29, 1996. Amateur. A Jigsaw Theatre Company Sponsored Production.
Jigsaw's Sponsored Productions Program is for young theatre practitioners who aspire to professionalism. The space, administration and technical backup for new writers like Chris Skene, recently out of secondary college, are provided in a relatively low-risk and supportive environment.
ThoughtProcess explores the idea that there are many different realities. Harmony in the music of the spheres is represented by David (played by Skene) finding a relationship with a woman, Vanessa, (an excellent performance by Desiree Bandle) which enhances his creativity as a composer of techno-music. I was surprised that modern youth would respond to such a post-Romantic theme: maybe Beethoven is what Canberra's intelligentsia need, techno-music notwithstanding.
My problem is not with the concept - that's the writer's prerogative - but with the dialogue, direction and production values. A few flashes of wit and perhaps unintentional irony left the audience tentative about how to respond. What seemed like several dozen short scenes needed smooth and creative entrances, exits and light changes to make them work. Much of the acting was lack-lustre: perhaps, I thought, this was a deliberate device to represent the ennui and unrelatedness that young people feel - but it made for static theatre.
So, a brave foray into some interesting metaphysics. Skene must study theatrical forms to find much more original ways of engaging his audience's emotions. He could learn much from Jigsaw's excellent Mercury about using the interplay between television and live performers. His choice of music, including his own compositions, held dramatic possibilities which were only partially realised. I call this "representational theatre" - a representation of ideas on stage. Skene writes of a scale of realities from "mineral" to "human" to "beyond human". As yet, his play is a theatrical rock with all its limitations of feeling and communication. I hope he will keep working until his theatre becomes at least fully human. "Beyond human" is the ultimate level of artistic attainment, of course. And, after all, this is only for those who dare.© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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