Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Is Colin Firth Meta?

Dear all,

It has come to my attention that a meta-play is coming to DC.

Venus in Fur, the play by David Ives and directed by David Muse, will open in DC on May 25th and run through early July. I've been indirectly offered free tickets to be used at an upcoming Studio production and will hopefully report back soon either on this one or another one.

Not only that, but it is coming to DC's beautiful Studio Theater on 14th Street, an amazing and borderline-meta venue, if I do say so myself. I mean come on - it calls itself the Studio Theater? Why not call itself the Theater Studio, or the Theatre Theater, or the Studio Studio, or some such?

On the inspiration for Venus and Fur though, startingly, the theater's description of it does not once make use of the term 'meta' in its blurb:
In Venus in Fur, David Ives’s completely reimagines Sacher-Masoch’s novella, shifting the action to a contemporary rehearsal room, and turning the characters into an actress and a playwright/director. Sacher-Masoch’s own words come to life in the play-within-a-play, a theatrical adaptation of the 1870 story. Though Ives makes the story entirely his own, the spirit of the original story remains intact.
Bam. If you think about it, meta plays are really just a 3D form of metafiction: if you believe that a play is a 3D form of any fiction, that is.

Though this point could be up for debate, and probably is in some hippie circles, this is what I was basically taught in high school English, otherwise known as my senior year AP Colin Firth class.

Our professor, a hoary South African lady (elderly; not whore-y), had us read practically any and every play, novella, or other work of fiction that had since been turned into a Colin Firth film - a selection can be found here.

We then proceeded to lie on our backpacks on the floor of our classroom, watching the movie versions of each book/play, day after day, week after week, 45 minute class period after 45 minute class period. It was a glorious time.

But back to the point, which was not Colin firth.

Plays are an inherent breeding ground for the adaptation of other things into meta-ness, because they require adaptation into a necessarily limited physical and emotional space: the stage. Most plays can consist of at most up to three sets, but usually two with a change made at intermission. This means that action space must be condensed into thought space, with thoughts layered upon actions as words spoken aloud become the actions they represent.

In a book or movie, anything can be provided as a set or forced into view; in a play, there are concrete limits that must be first provided and then creatively overcome through provocation of the audience's imagination.

Within this dramatic layering lies some of the greatest potential for meta-isms we have seen yet, and I look forward to further discussion of plays, as well as other arts, that we will come across soon.

Rachel is probably cringing right now.

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