Thought experiments

First of all, I am going to be on the road for the next eleven days, so blogging may be a bit spotty depending on my schedule and my weariness.  My apologies in advance.

Second, go watch the video on this page.  It's about nine minutes long.  It's from Opera Europa, an incredible website that streams first-rate productions from around the continent, for free.

Here's the thought experiment: if you had the budget that these people obviously do, what would you achieve?

The Winter's Tale , NCTC 1995

The Winter's Tale, NCTC 1995

I ask this because, for 40 years as a theatre practitioner in Newnan, GA, I have always been aware of my constraints and have designed accordingly.  Every three years or so I would cast off my shackles and go for what the company called "the full Dale, " budget-busting productions that dazzled even as they exhausted us: Pericles, The Winter's Tale, Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.  But mostly I kept my wilder impulses under control and went with what was "possible."  Merely possible. (1)

For example, for many years the theatre company lived in an old cotton warehouse where the century-old posts holding the whole building up were 13 feet apart.  I began every set design by sketching in those posts and deciding what to do with them: hide them, incorporate them, ignore them?  Finally we moved into a larger warehouse across the street, where the posts were 26 feet apart, Travis, and the first show I designed for that space, I was lost.  I had no idea what to do with that much freedom.

Likewise, before computer-assisted music programs appeared on the scene—yes, I'm that old—I was pretty much limited in my composition to what I could get people to play for me, and to what they could actually play.  Now I have the entire orchestra at my disposal, and we'll just say that my writing has become a lot freer.

Needless to say, I am still constrained by my budget and my circumstances.  I don't necessarily go out and build mammoth Burning-Man-style sculptures, or compose massive choral works, or plan to open a craft cocktails establishment.

However—and this is the point—nothing stops me from thinking/designing/planning such grandiose projects.  Not one thing.

The same goes for you, right?  When we say STEAL FROM THE BEST, we don't mean just Mozart or Cy Twombly or J.K. Rowling.  We also mean steal from the best you could ever be.  Fill up those WASTE BOOKS with ideas and sketches and musings and plans. Pretend you have no limitations, not budget, not time, not materials, not personnel.

Stake out your territory in the unpossible.

Then watch what happens.


(1) Fair warning to Newnan Theatre Company: I'm going full Dale on Peter & the Starcatcher.