This Week - 18th June 2017
This Week 18th June
What I Saw
This week I went to see The Red Turtle by Studio Ghibli which was a beautiful example of the importance of showing not telling, that is really worth seeing if you can catch it.
It is out on DVD and Blu-Ray but I was lucky enough to catch the one night it was playing at my local Picturehouse; and who can’t resist some animation on the big screen? Not this girl.
It's an 80-minute animated epic, despite the fact at some times it is luxuriously a slow-pic. It shows the story of one man, who is washed up onto a desert island, how he survives and finds a way to live. The film uses no words (Apart from the odd "Hey!") and instead gently coaxes you to fill in the gaps with your own narration and thoughts, just as alone and isolated as the man in front of you.
This is a real study of the beauty of the moment (for which Studio Ghibli is well known for) and visual storytelling (Oh yes, they're also known for that) and while it remains quite realistic in its depiction of raw nature and brutal catastrophe, it also weaves between dream-like fantasy, legend and hallucination especially with the eponymous Red Turtle gets involved.
One moment that really got me had the man (he’s never named) is trapped in an underwater tunnel. This moment left my heart racing and my hands squeezing, desperately trying to grasp how he was going to survive. Knowing he had to for the sake of the story but still caught up in his struggle. I’ve not had a moment that like that with a movie in a very long time; genuinely feeling concerned by someone whose name I don't even know, who I’ve only just met, whose previous life I will never know. This is what impresses me about animation and good storytelling that encourages and invites their audience to be a collaborator, to be a storyteller in that moment.
Studio Ghibli and their collaborations never fail to find the beauty in the slow, every day and the beauty and the starkness and fury of a crisis.
What I Read
At the moment I'm reading The Kite Runner based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini. Admittedly I'm a bit late in the game with reading this, seeing as it came out in 2003 but whatever, it's still a fascinating read, especially as we reflect on the political landscape in the Middle East almost daily.
I was inspired to read the book after seeing the play adaption at the Playhouse Theatre which… I wasn't too fussed by. I wasn't too enamoured by the framing of the story or how it was told. I had an odd feeling that I was ‘watching’ an audiobook; it says a lot when I feel I could have closed my eyes and not missed anything from the story. There was an over-reliance on narration to push the story forward at a speedy pace, trying to get to the next plot point as quickly as possible and characters emotions, thoughts and intentions were explained for them. There was no interest to let either the story or the characters the chance to breathe (something of a problem with a lot of adaptions I’ve seen on stage and screen) and there was a lot of telling rather than showing.
It's interesting to note that in one week I saw a piece that showed and resisted telling and one that was insistent on telling me everything and not allowing me time to take all the information in.
There’s one positive thing maybe unexpected thing it did do, it made me want to read the book. I will confess, I left during the interval and I didn't see the second half, partly because my friend didn't want to stay (she's got no time for theatre she doesn't click with) and in all honesty I was having a mild panic attack at the time and it didn’t seem worth to continue with it.
(Panic attacks are often a good litmus test for my commitment to plays. I felt awful in War Horse but wild... horses couldn't have dragged me out of there)
Sure, it could have gotten better and maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance but it hadn’t grabbed me half way in. It would have taken a lot to woo me back in. Besides, I would still have had a lot to say about the lacklustre first half.
However, as I was writing, I was curious about where the story was going and the outcomes of the characters and story which centres around the friendship of two young Afghani boys. It’s been a while since I had sat down to read fiction (my reading list has become increasingly non-fiction based over the years)and it was a joy. But from the first page, it highlighted that the play was as I suspected, pretty much audiobook-ish, parts felt copied and pasted word for word. Despite that, I'm enjoying it so far and once I get past the 'first half' (which is more of the first quarter book-wise if that so I have no idea how they possibly packed so much of the book into a shorter second half) I’m sure I’ll not have missed much from the play.
What I’ve Done
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work which has been for other people, whether that is acting as a collaborator to bring others stories to life (my work with Frankie Brand, Charlie Ryder and Marian Partington ) or as a facilitator preparing and delivering workshops. This week, however, thanks to being a bit more ready and ahead of schedule with my workshop admin, I’ve enjoyed a nice indulgent period where I have had the time to focus on my own ideas and explorations as I wait for future projects to come to fruition.
So I’ve been a bit more experimental and after a long research session on what else but Pinterest, I started testing myself on how well I can produce mechanisms for puppets. It’s not something I’ve done a lot of before, as I’ve focused more on my aesthetic look and choices of my puppets (I'm good at heads but rubbish at bodies!). There is something very exciting about applying half-formed knowledge and trying to get my head round basic engineering, making levers and pulleys on a very small level using cardboard and thread as a prototype before hopefully applying it to bigger things!
Watch this space!