(more rehearsal notes, 4/26/14)

Continuing on from the last entry, I will consider the implications of The Unfolding Structure for the Landscape Form.

Somewhat mistakenly, in the past I had emphasized that Classic Form was more like a piece of music, where the emphasis is on the continuity, and following how each moment becomes the next moment. Landscape Form, I had said, paid no attention to continuity, and each moment was its own experience.

Now we have clarified that although Classic Form does indeed emphasize continuity, it is certainly not the continuity of following the scene along like a piece of music. Rather, it is the continuity of deliberately unfolding each moment, in order to discover the next moment. In practice, this actually does not feel very much like following a piece of music or reading a musical score.

Landscape Form, on the other hand, really does consist of simply following the scene along. I don’t compare it to a piece of music, because the way the energy changes in the space is more often like changing weather or changing light than it is like a piece of music, but it is still true that the difference between the two forms is precisely that Classic is the form where you navigate through it by unfolding, and Landscape is the form where you navigate through it by simply following along, without needing to deliberately unfold anything.

In our previous preparation for Landscape, I emphasized that each moment of energy in the space always has two qualities: rhythm (how it flows), and feeling tone (the emotional or textural quality of how the energy feels at each moment). The moments of the scene may have many, many other layers and qualities as well, but they always have a way of flowing, and they always have a feeling tone of some kind. Taken together, I could refer to these two qualities as being the weather in the room. (But I wouldn’t use this shorthand term in an actual preparation, because I still need the reminder that I need to feel both rhythm and feeling tone.)

So Landscape Form, as previously defined, means to use my vocal line (words and silences) to feel the weather in the room at each moment. The Landscape warm-up exercise reminds us that the vocal line is an active, tactile tool, like your hands, and that (unlike your eyes) you need to reach your voice into the room over and over again to check what the weather is like at each moment. It is as if you navigate through the scene by asking over and over “What’s the weather like now? What’s it like now? What’s it like now?” Since we are navigating through the scene by continually using our vocal line to see what the weather is like at each moment, we are indeed navigating by using one particular level and simply following it along for as long as we care to. This is why I have always said that working in Landscape feels like you’re doing something far simpler, in essence, than working in Classic. It feels simpler because you are simply following the weather. There is no need to push for constant unfolding, for constant exploration and discovery.

However, it is important to note that plenty of unfolding occurs throughout a Landscape scene, all by itself, and that this unfolding is in fact the very thing that makes the scene interesting to watch. Looking at the film “Suggestive Gestures,” you can see that the actors do not, by any means, stick solely to the weather qualities of rhythm and feeling tone. Many other levels make their appearance throughout the scene: characters, dramatic situations, visual images, spatial sensations, tactile sensations, ideas, etc. The actors are still navigating through the scene by simply following the energy weather, but these other levels of meaning appear spontaneously throughout, giving the scene its flavor and interest. So, in an almost exact mirror image of the formula for Classic Form, we can say that Landscape Form is the form where you navigate through the scene by following the weather (the rhythm and feeling tone) at each moment, but you allow whatever unfolding takes place by itself to occur whenever it needs to. (As opposed to Classic, where you navigate by unfolding, but allow the following along to occur whenever it needs to.)

It is also important to note that Landscape Form still has its own Prime Directive, but a simpler one than the one used for Classic. If you allow yourself to simply and lazily follow the weather along through the scene and leave it at that, the scene will be too flaccid and wandering, and indeed it is precisely this kind of improv which is called noodling.

The Prime Directive for Landscape states that, throughout the scene, I will keep opening myself up to feel the rhythm and feeling tone of the energy in the space more and more physically, and more and more fully. It is as if I am simplifying the Prime Directive of Classic, by asking myself to keep feeling the weather level more and more fully, but leaving out the requirement to feel it more and more completely, meaning I don’t have to unfold it. The actors in Landscape Form are like energy barometers, in the sense that they are like instruments that continually register every nuance of the weather in the space. So the Prime Directive states that we have to continually be self-improving barometers, and make ourselves register the nuances in the energy weather more and more fully and more and more sensitively. Meanwhile, other levels of meaning are allowed to appear in the scene wherever they need to.

It turns out that this very simple form of Prime Directive is perfectly sufficient to give a Landscape scene a sense of urgency and drama, to raise the stakes in the scene and prevent it from feeling like it is wandering aimlessly. In the film “Suggestive Gestures” I used the visual form of a labyrinth, where a pathway leading to the center is a very literal representation of the idea of a journey, to indicate that although the scene had absolutely no connected themes, no unfolding, and no narrative through-line, it still generated the feeling of taking the viewer on a journey. The Landscape Prime Directive is enough to create this narrative feeling all on its own.

To use a metaphor: imagine a film of a landscape where the light and weather changes throughout. Now imagine that it has been filmed so that the camera starts out completely out of focus in the beginning, and slowly and continuously comes into greater and greater focus throughout the film, so that the last moment of the film is in completely crisp focus. Our ability to follow the details of the changes in light, weather, and mood improves throughout the film. This is what the Prime Directive in Landscape accomplishes.

Note that this is just a metaphor. I’m not suggesting, by any means, that you should start off a Landscape scene by deliberately doing a bad job of registering the energy, and only slowly getting better at it. Of course, you should still begin the scene by doing the best you possibly can at registering the energy of the opening moment, and then continually improving from there. I’m simply saying that, by using the Landscape Prime Directive, you’re injecting drama and interest into the scene by creating a sense that the landscape is constantly becoming clearer, more real, more specific, more intense, and more filled with detail. Its like a weather report taken from self-improving barometers.