28 October 2007

My Play: the Audience (John Cage Composition Accompanies)

Friday night, while waiting for the play Oscar and the Pink Lady to begin, I wrote my first play. In its entirety.

The Pink Lady was performed at the Old Globe's Cassius Carter Centre Stage - a theater in the round, the stage completely surrounded by seats. As you look past the stage, you see other theater goers looking at the stage. The play started a little late and I found myself quite enjoying the notion that the play would not be performed and the audience would simply have to watch one another watching one another, never particularly sure whether we were performers or in the audience, a role similar to what we all have in life. The brain is able to contemplate itself contemplating itself - a particular trick of recursion that makes us self aware and thus more advanced. Watching the audience begin to watch the audience, I got the idea for my play. Why not, then, have an audience watching itself watch itself - a particular trick of contemplation and entertainment that could, indeed, mean something different for each member of the audience?

And this is my entire play. 45 minutes of the audience in the round watching other members of the audience in the round, the stage becoming secondary to the drama of fidgeting, stolen glances, and muted emotion.

Thinking about it later, I realized that this isn't really a completely new idea. It is, in fact, just a dramatic variation of John Cage's 4 minutes 33 seconds, a musical composition in which no music in played and the audience is free to project onto the pianist (or full orchestra) what they like. Cage's composition is provided here, for your (listening? viewing? contemplating?) pleasure. If my play had musical accompaniment, I suppose I would need to use Cage's composition. I thoroughly enjoyed this BBC broadcast of Cage's composition. I hope you do too.


Norman said...


This reminded me of the video I made when my oldest was only two months old.

My Dad was obsessed with videoing everything, everywhere he went, so . . .

I set up my video camera on a tripod and filmed my daughter for 1hr and 22 min while she slept in her crib.

Then I sent the video to my folks as a practical joke on my father, because I knew there was NO WAY that my Mom would let him fast forward through any of it.

I'd almost forgotten about that, so thanks for the memory jog '-)

exskindiver said...

if we shut up once in a while--we might actually be able to listen and not just hear something worthwhile?

Vladimir Dzhuvinov said...

Hi Ron, good to see that your blog is still very much alive and breathing fun stuff :-)

I can't believe people paid for this "non-performance". Any moment I was expecting someone to burst in hysterical laughter... but only the occasional coughs interrupted the silence. Schade :-)

cce said...

I'm with Vladimir,
Everyone was sooo damn earnest. I guess I would have ruined the whole thing because there is no way I could have contained myself. I'm not one for performance art or performers/composers that take themselves too seriously.

Ron Davison said...

hilarious. Your daughter an unwitting performance artist while still in diapers.

I shut up but didn't hear a thing. Perhaps I should try this again around people? :)

Good to see you back! This means that you revived your blog, I hope. And yes, this is the BBC so they strive to be serious.

I can't believe that you weren't serious and subdued through all this. You younger parents have got to learn how to stifle a giggle if you ever want your kids to take you seriously.