Theatre and the ‘Art’ of Influence

Rene Magritte, "Intermission" 1927/1928 oil on canvas

Influences on playwrights and theatre practitioners run the gamut.

Everyday life experiences are an obvious influence.  History, another.  Politics, psychology, religion, science, too.

Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, other playwrights, practitioners, and companies inevitably influence the theatre we create.

We are also influenced by other kinds of art and media apart from our own genre.  I, myself, have always been captivated by paintings, the stories the and the style in which they do so.

Since I first laid eyes on the paintings of Rene Magritte about ten years ago, I have remained fascinated by  his work and the mind behind them.  His paintings raise countless questions; whether they provide any answers depends on the (in)sight of the beholder.   I find Magritte’s dissection, morphing, and recasting of the human form to be TRULY provocative (*this word has been WORN OUT, what does it mean anymore?), sometimes disturbing, and always mysterious.  Some of his paintings destabilize notions of body and gender; others reveal our own fetishization of body and gender. I am inspired by theatre pieces that somehow tap into what Magritte taps into in his medium; I think Barker, Beckett, Ludlam, late Strindberg, Ionesco, and Kane all do this.  I also think that there are plenty of talented, living playwrights tapping into mysteries and sublime truths in their plays; there work doesn’t get produced (enough) outside of MAJOR theatre cities, and so it has become my mission to find them and stage their work.

The impetus behind this post was Magritte’s “Intermission” (fitting title, huh?).  In this marvelous painting, Magritte does what might be called bodyf*ck. I wonder how this piece might look and sound if it were interpreted into a playscript?  It might resemble Mariah MacCarthy’s new play The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret, which I’ll be directing for Thinking Cap Theatre at Empire Stage in Fort Lauderdale in June 2012.

What influences the theatre you make?

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One Response to “Theatre and the ‘Art’ of Influence”
  1. I love this painting, and I loved meeting you on Friday!

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