I’ve wanted to write a few thoughts about theatre that have been collecting in my head for months now.
How does ‘space’ unlock itself to us in a theatre? First, before any answer, there is the question of ‘external reality’.
There is always several places in any such image (the above) — the psyche is the seat of observation. The seat in the theatre of existence. One of the things Lacan introduced with the split subject is that there is always another screen.
Perspective represented space. The Freud/Lacan notion that perception is always a transcription to *representation*. In film, something happens that is connected to the idea of a screen, a plane surface. In theatre, something happens more directly linked to desire.
Film represents space. Theatre is architecture. What is it that captures out interest, our attention, when it occurs on stage? What is it that happens in film? I think the idea of subjective and objective probably are evolutionarily interconnected. Simultaneous.
The real is always elsewhere (Lacan). And there is always AN elsewhere. In the theatre it is offstage. Has the construction of theatres expressed something of the violence felt for the ‘real’? For the unconscious? We have appropriated ‘reality’ in some fashion, and built systems, religion, capitalism, language… and do these systems form multiple lenses through which we observe, and then if somehow these are always inadequate, because we are split, do we suffer?– and the trauma of childhood leaves us with scars, anyway. What Lacan called a “tear in the imaginary”. Our memories, our dreams, are always felt in the shadow of a hurt. As children. The physical theatre, that building, is entered I think, always, as children.
A still from a film, a frame out of a film, will often resonate, bouncing around the space of our private screening room. There are easy explanations. None of which are correct. Did theatres get built that expressed the patriarchal punishment that we knew we had coming? In theatre and film, is this desire to be *looked at* the same? I think not. The screen does not look back. The actor does.
If you see two black windows up-stage, and if you see two black windows in a film-shot. In the theatre, we know “someone” is watching us. In the film, the camera must comment. The code of subjectivity must intercede.
Architecture is always a performance of some kind. It is a collective sense of desire, or of repression.
One can talk oneself into several corners at once with this. And partly, that itself is a system to organize reality. How do the ancestral linkages to money form our reading? To reading capital. There is a spatial problem for humans. There shouldn’t be, but there is. For where does it hurt? Sometimes, we don’t know.
The unconscious appears, if we believe Freud, in the slip of the tongue, the joke, or the dream. Our assemblage of reality uses a hydraulics of *realness*, those various torture implements give the cold unloved edges of salary and hierarchy, and punishment. We all know the presistence of factory, prison, school. Those institutions of abuse for the West.
The stage, is closest to the idealized field, an empty field, at night.
When we did the outdoor plays at the Padua Hills Festival, I would always look up into the night sky. For that was where the play was taking place. Theatre is not church. It’s not religion. It’s not any institution. It is the anti institution.
It is the place where the institutional dies.
I have noticed how some films become resonant the moment a sense of space, and more importantly, *place* is established. This is possibly a good part of what film does. Let The Right One In is perhaps not a great film, but I remember a sense of place …not any particular place…but almost *home*, forgotten, and then remembered. You are someplace.
The imagination of the West is drying up. The corporations behind film and TV provides only superating physic wounds, only slippage from memory, from dream. They give only the erasure of dream.
There are no places. No air in Spiderman, no space left after editing. The faster the edits, the more the unconscious is driven away. It is a violence done to the imagination. To the creative. It is fascism. It is the gesture that reproduces the robot or mindless infantry soldier, faceless, helemted, and inhaling his own need to kill. Drones are the perfect metaphor for 21st century America. No pilot. Insect like. Less than insects. Big insects. Insects without pollin, without reason to be. Noisey.
The reality quotient. The reality effect. In the dream, the perspectival has no horizon. I dont think we do. The ordering of the real, from Descartes to Fra Carnavale, to Bellini, Canaletto, to the photograph. Perspective. Cataloguing. The theatre resists this violence. The amatuer playwright, the Broadway hit, the Las Vegas spectacle. They seem to do less harm than network TV. The physical plant, the chair, the accident.
The repetition of rehearsal. The residue of repetition. The improvised text fails before it starts. Always.
The accident. Our childhood. Dreamwork. We are late for our appointment. We cannot remember with whom. Or where.
Lacan says anxiety is a symptom of the real being nearby. Proximity. The ego must act. Defense. The defended moment. The return of the object.
The corporate made show, or film, satisfies — it restores balance and equilibrium. But does it? Drive theory feels wrong to me here. Theatre is about death. But it is not about execution. Great plays reach for primordial silence. Product is noisey, like terror drones.
Lacan’s Insistence Upon the Letter in the Unconscious, quotes Freud, Wo Es war, soll Ich werden… Where I was, I must come into being.
That is theatre. And if so, then the problem of realism is a bit easier to ponder. And of space (Lorens Holm’s book, on Brunelleschi, Lacan, and le Corbusier) where a sense of the private space is examined.
Rehearsal. Repetition. The real. The picture of the real.
The ego and super ego now hold court over a necroplis. What is that wound left after a thousand repetitions? There is violence in moderation. In the reasonable. The infection of maturity, which is only a diseased infantilization. There is no maturity under capital. There is no primordial silence, there is, perhaps, a mute function. The better not to hear the ‘other’. Private property. Private space. What do such terms mean in theatre?
“architecture, at least the architecture that we hold central to the Western tradition — is the built form of a series of spatial effects worked out first, and in their definitive form on paper.”
And capital. In theatre, there is place, or the pre-conditions for it. I often return to Piranesi. His series of drawings, Prisons of the Imagination, or the Carceri, published in 1750, were precursors for Kafka and Buchner. For modern theatre. For something impossible. It is their impossibility, within their impossibility, that their importance lies.
I leave off here.