Sunday, January 01, 2006

Minimalist vs. Minimal

Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog! I know you may be wondering why I am blogging less than two hours into a new year as opposed to being at some wild party. The short answer is; there were no parties in this area to go to. Another reason is, I am an actor. Theatre stuff is what I spend a lot of time thinking about. When I have a good idea for an entry, I post one. Normally I would have waited until a day or so passed, but this one was sort of time sensitive.

I love it when a comment someone makes on the blog inspires a whole new subject for me to blog about which I might not otherwise have thought to address! This is what happened not long ago, when I read a fresh comment left by my friend, Erin, under the Two From Galilee post I made.

In that post, I mentioned that the set was "minimalist". By that I meant the design was simple and unpretentious. Yet it was not until Erin posted her comment that I realized I had been quite unclear in what I meant. (Her parents did much of the building of the set for the production.)

Indeed, I reread my own post and realized how vague I had been. I gave the impression that I was unimpressed by the set, and hence saw "minimal" value to it. That is sort of how it sounds, honestly, particularly given the fact that right afterwards, I mentioned the meticulous care taken with the costumes. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was quite simply, bad writing on my part, which I regret.

The fact is I have always enjoyed both seeing and appearing in plays with minimalist sets. They represent that perfect blend of functionality, and unobtrusiveness. It is by no means easy to create a minimalist set that strikes such a balance. If you are not careful you can end up with one of two things; a play with virtually no set, or some goofy avant-garde silliness that distracts from the show. When designed and built well, however, minimalist sets give a Shakespearean quality to a production. For my tastes, less very often is more, but the "less" by no means refers to the amount of work or creativity involved.

I have had the fortune of performing on many minimalist sets designed and/or built by various talented people, including Erin's parents. I hope to do so again. Two From Galilee was just one example of that type of set working well with the action of the play.

So this post was two fold. I wanted to clarify my stance on the Two From Galilee set. I also wanted to mention my overall enjoyment of the minimalist set as a style. If anyone reading this shares a love for such sets, or has a particular set of that type they were fond of, feel free to post some comments about it. I'd be curious to read them.

Of course, the big, complex and detail-oriented sets can also be wonderful works of art. As an actor as well as an audience member, I sometimes enjoy just being near such elaborate sets. But that is another post.

Sets. Just another example of how many endless possibilities there are in pursuit of the goals of a production. Another reason to love theatre.


Anonymous said...

(Sorry Ty, this is to Kendra) Yes, Dawn was in Galilee. I just saw the comment that you made under the Galilee post. She's so sweet, isn't she? I love her to pieces. ~Gaby

Anonymous said...

There is a downside to the minimal set, though, I think: The way in which the director uses it(the set, which was spiffy). Sometimes the director does not do what is best with the set, blocking wise. (This is no fault of the set people, what-so-ever.)