Visits to a Small Planet and The Empty Space
In my opinion Elanor Fuchs’s article “Visits to a Small Planet” and Peter Brook’s book “The Empty Space” are closely connected, and supported to each other: theater is the unique small planet that exist in our society, where it has its own strength and path along the human history. The article showed several perspective I never thought of, asked the same question as I have in mind for years, and also bring out some new questions I have in mind.
In Peter Brook’s book chapter one “The Deadly Theatre”, the author believe that there are many key elements that could lead to the “deadly theater”, which are correspond to the rules introduced in “Visits to a Small Planet”. “There are no records, no tapes—only experts, but not one of them, of course, has firsthand knowledge. Every work has its own style: it could not be otherwise: every period has its style. The moment we try to pinpoint this style we are lost.” Brook point out that the blindly repeat and stereotyped critics narrow down the potential that a play could have, and not to mention other death elements like overpriced ticket. As I read it, several questions raised along: Where is the boundary where we stop repeat the classic? Where is the stop point that a young actor should stop imitate the old actor? Like it mentioned in the article, Peking Opera is an extreme example that it almost never change from the moment it create, and now in China, there are fewer and fewer people watching it. It is totally disconnected with people’s daily life, you can not force people to go back to the theater watch something they can not related. Yet, we can bring new life to the theater, to the classic, and bring the audience back to the place, however, where is the stop point? When innovation happen, new life into old piece, are they still the same? Just like “sleep no more”, which is obviously a huge successful innovation piece, but does it still play? Or do we just erase the old classic Shakespeare piece for commercial benefit？
In the last chapter “The Immediate Theatre” Brook talked about the present characteristic of theater play, where he explained the actor’s performance and rehearsal. For me, the unique charm of theater really comes from the present, even though it’s the same story same actor, props every time, but every single time it’s a different experience and can not be repeat.