Thursday, 17 March 2016

Why The Fairground Booth


Reasons for filming this play:

Why "The Fairground Booth" or "The Puppet Show" as it sometimes is called - "Balaganchik" in Russian. Well if you acknowledge that carnival has had an enormous influence on Russian theatre especially at the beginning of the 20th century then "The Fairground Booth" is the play which really underlined this fact. It was one of those watershed plays or theatrical events which defined the future and broke with the past. Alexander Blok's play and his cooperation with Meyerhold in "The Fairground Booth" served as a link between the symbolism of the early twentieth century and the revolution in culture and technology and society - it was the nexus between the old and the new theatre.

From this perspective, to pair a film about Vakhtangov, carnival and "The Fairground Booth" makes sense. Each film will stand on its own but each film will inform the other. Moreover it will also sit well against the two films already completed about Russian theatre: "Meyerhold Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde" and "Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre". This will make up a series of five films covering an area which is less explored than say the theatre of Chekhov.

The connections will become clear over time as each film begins to develop. I will be charting the progress and development of these films here and in blogs and in a series of background video blogs across the internet. Some may claim that Blok's Fairground Booth is just a curiosity piece or not a classic drama. In subsequent blogs I will try and argue otherwise and  that it is as much of a classic as any play by Chekhov, Shakespeare or Ibsen and deserves its place in the history of world theatre. Blok's play paved the way for a new kind of theatre which relied less on naturalism and explored other means of expression.

However the question still arises why Blok and the "Balaganchik" and why now. Russian society and culture was changing at a rapid pace, to some extent this is still true of Russia. Any attempt to hold a mirror up to nature so to speak was then doomed to failure. Naturalism was ill equipped to deal with reality at the beginning of the 20th century. Events move on a at staggering pace. How does one reflect reality of the then Russia, how does one come to terms with it. One way is through masks and masquerades, to widen the expressive possibilities of what was then a narrowly defined view of the role of theatre and the content it should portray. This, in the context of The Russian Theatre Film series  is what is hoped will be achieved

Draft of Fairground Booth book proceeding

Many days work on the project I have been planning for some time -The Fairground Booth or 'The Puppet Show" by Alexander Blok. The play was first put on by Meyerhold in 1906 and I intend to revive a version of it as part of the Russian Theatre Film Series​. I have not fully decided whether to use computer graphics or a combination of Computer graphics animation and actors or just actors. Searching for a computer graphics designer with whom I can work to create the main characters - Pierrot, Harlequin and Columbina. This is a singularly important part of the project, key in fact. One of the avenues being explored at the moment is the links of the play to Shakespeare's Tempest and how Blok was influenced by this play. Both are concerned with masquerades and characters which are neither human or puppets but inhabit some in between existence which Prospero is always, in the case of Ariel, release them from. The theme of transformation and metamorphosis runs through the fabric of both plays alongside the carnival tragic/comic atmosphere which became an integral part of early Russian 20th century theatre.

thefairgroundbooth.com
michaelcraig.copernicusfilms.com
#theatre   #russiantheatre  
+Russian Theatre Documentary Series 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Puppets and People and Blok


 The site kinoeye.com  posted a collection of quotes about documentary film. There where several which  struck me as being actual in terms of the film Tokyo Journey. In the film two puppets are seen together - the  puppet human and the real puppet, mechanical.  But which is the real puppet. This interface where two masks, two puppets meet each other and respond to each other has the effect that I wished for. Are these beings sentient or mechanical and where does the one end and the other begin. What are the elements which create the impression of life and decrease the impression of life and living, in what does the character of life consist? If we met with alien life from an other planet how would we know, how could we determine its reality, its true reality when we are unable to accurately determine our own reality and embrace it as a fact or facts. Throughout the making of the film from its conception to completion Noh theatre and bungaku puppet theatre was always in the back of my mind, not consciously informing the film but certainly the work I was doing reminded me of these Japanese arts. I couldn't say they informed my decisions but something of the arts of one slide through into the other and back again. More over the Fairground Booth  by Blok was always there informing the direction of this film much like Meyerhold and and Vakhtangov. Blok's Fairground Booth informs this film as much as Japanese Theatre. Meyerhold was heavily influenced by Japanese Noh Theatre and Kabuki for many of of his innovations and were apart of the technology of bio-mechanics which Meyerhold developed as a way of training his actors in movement and dance rather than solely concentrating on words and language to convey emotion and drama.


Ovid and Blok


Photo: Researching Ovid's Metamorphosis as part of The Fairground Booth project. Metamorphosis and transformation are common themes of both Ovids Poem and The Fairground Booth Play by Alexander Blok. Blok's play features a short section which relates directly form the legend of Echo and  Narcissus featured in Ovid . Writing the section which will explore this theme in the book which will be part of the film project

This panel by Bartolomeo di Giovanni relates the second half of the story. In the upper left, Jupiter emerges from clouds to order Mercury to rescue.
#thefairgroundbooth   #ovid   #metamorphosis 
#alexanderblok 

For more information on The Fairground Booth Project clink on the following link michaelcraig.copernicusfilms.com/category/the-fairground-booth/ 
Researching Ovid's Metamorphosis as part of The Fairground Booth project. Metamorphosis and transformation are common themes of both Ovids Poem and The Fairground Booth Play by Alexander Blok. Blok's play features a short section which relates directly form the legend of Echo and  Narcissus featured in Ovid . Writing the section which will explore this theme in the book which will be part of the film project

This panel by Bartolomeo di Giovanni relates the second half of the story. In the upper left, Jupiter emerges from clouds to order Mercury to rescue.
#thefairgroundbooth   #ovid   #metamorphosis  
#alexanderblok  

For more information on The Fairground Booth Project clink on the following link michaelcraig.copernicusfilms.com/category/the-fairground-booth/ 


Symbolism and The Fairground Booth


As I work on The Fairground Booth project it is becoming clearer and clearer how important Alexander Blok was to the transition between Symbolism and The Russian avant-garde even though he did not directly participate in what we understand as the Russian avant-garde or Futurism. However the play The Fairground Booth was one of the major steps which broke down the dominance of Symbolism in Russian literature or at least highlighted its shortcomings and opened up a artistic and theatrical space where new forms could be explored and developed. As one digs deep down into the layers and substrata of the play more and more possibilities emerge. The book I am writing as part of The Fairground Booth project which in itself is part of the Russian Theatre Documentary Series is becoming an indispensable input and incubator for the film and the documentary film. Whole new lines of development opening up. michaelcraig.copernicusfilms.com http://www.michaelcraig.copernicusfilms.com/category/the-fairground-booth/ #russiantheatre #alexanderblok #theatre 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Vakhtangov and the Russian Theatre in production


VAKHTANGOV was a pupil of Stanislavsky. He went on to be one of the most influential innovators of theatre. His theory of "fantastic realism" laid the foundation for much of what we understand today as modern theatre. This new film is in the process of being funded. Click here to contribute to the crowd funding campaign

Part of the Russian Theatre Film Series

Indiegogo Campaign for 
VAKHTANGOV & THE RUSSIAN THEATRE