Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for July 9th, 2018

The same clump of flowers

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I really intend to set up most of my [opera] productions so that people have very different experiences on the same evening. Part of that is just technical—I make too many things happen at once so you have to decide what you’re going to look at, and whatever you’re looking at, you’re not looking at something else. Someone else may be looking at that, and I deliberately set up confusing situations sometimes so that the audience is making their own choices. I like that. It’s what separates live theater from TV or film. In television or film, your gaze is always channeled. You are not consulted; you’re told where we’re going to look next. What I love about opera is that your mind wanders, and my job is to set up an interesting landscape to wander in. No two people come out having smelled the same clump of flowers…

I don’t like to watch people think onstage. I like to watch people do things. I don’t want to know what I think Nixon’s thinking. If I can get Nixon to do the things that Nixon does, then it’s up to the audience to decide what he’s thinking. That’s where it gets interesting. If I say, “Nixon is thinking this,” and stage it accordingly, then it blots out any possibility of interpretation on the part of the audience. So I just say, “Here’s a person who’s done the following things. Now you tell me what he’s thinking.” Then it gets interesting, and the range of reaction becomes wonderful. In theater, psychology is overrated…My way of direction is extremely simple. If I say, “Go over here, pick up the glass of water and drink it,” that’s what I expect.

Peter Sellars, in an interview with Bruce Duffie

Written by nevalalee

July 9, 2018 at 7:30 am

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