If you are concerned about the state of society and the state of our planet, you may find this video of interest. Below is a link to a “Virtual Opera” created by my brother, James. The opera’s storyline is based on a play by Greek tragedian, Euripides, called “The Bacchae”. The two major themes are feminism and environmentalism (“Pantheism”). The composer took video clips from various thematically and periodically correct films and compiled them in such a way as to linearly simulate the storyline of “The Bacchae”. James composed the music and used a number of video effects available as part of the video editing package, including video overlays, coloring effects, slow motion, and focus “.
I asked my brother to provide us with some information about the development of “Virtual Opera”. Here is what he had to say:
The digital era has been tough on the music industry, but it has also opened the door for emerging artists who might otherwise never have gotten the exposure they deserve. This democratization and proliferation of music through technology is a boon for music lovers, as is the opportunity to watch a performer live online from thousands of miles away. Advancements in music technology have spurred growth and innovation in music creation, which is, after all, the point of art.
For better or worse, the pandemic has given birth to a new operatic art form – the virtual opera. Although we can never replace the beauty, grace, and social aspects of traditional opera, the virtual opera brings forth additional opportunity. Virtual opera is not reliant on a brick-and-mortar presence; thus, it is free of the confines and expense of a geographic location. Virtual opera is available to anyone with an internet connection and a little free time on his or her hands. Virtual opera becomes available to all, regardless of the size of their wallet and/or their location, remote or otherwise.
The aesthetic depth in this new genre, virtual opera, facilitates the use of musical and visual techniques often excluded from a traditional opera production. For example, the use of computer animation has truly opened up a new direction for musical theater, one that was previously the sole province of film and television producers. Given the influence of cinema on twentieth and twenty-first century viewers, these influences can only help to draw and maintain audiences for new offerings growing out of the musical form traditionally known as “opera”. It is an influential, entertaining, and emotionally rich form of art and needs to regain its prominence in our culture.
This short music video (see link below ) is about the loss of childlike imagination and it’s rediscovery later in life. It’s called “Cisco Kid is a Friend of Mine”. I hope you enjoy it. Earlier videos are available at my Art and Zen Today Channel linked below. Remember to view on full screen with headphones or stereo speakers and use your device’s volume control to attain proper loudness.
Have you noticed that you and everyone around you is aging? What’s up with that? Anyway, you may be interested in watching my latest video entitled “Sageism Versus Ageism”. Playing with video is what I do to keep halfway sane these days. So, thanks for watching and keep the comments coming. See the link below:
If you’ve been feeling a bit distraught of late, this 4-minute music/video may help. It’s called “Na Na Yeah Yeah by Eureka Magicka” and I’m sure you will recognize the tune. You can find it on the link below: Remember to watch in full screen mode and with good stereo speakers or headphones.
If you think that things of late have seemed a bit absurd, this short music video (see below) might be for you. It’s called “Absurd it Thru the Vape Grind” by Eureka Magicka and the Vape Grind Dancers. If the title seems absurd, it will start to make sense if you watch to the very end. As always, please watch on full screen mode with stereo speakers or headphones for enhanced enjoyment. You can see related videos on the “Art and Zen Today” Youtube Channel.
The Goddess Indica Enters the Garden. But, Whose In Control?
Mixed Media Sculpture by Steve Wilson
Whose in control? If you’ve been asking yourself this question lately, this music video might be for you. It was inspired by a mixed media sculpture I made recently. Typically, I resist giving names to my art pieces, but the name for this one came mid-production. I hope you enjoy it. Follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9JpddBh8RQ&t=119s
What do adults wallowing in the mud in Youtube videos say about the state of affairs in Eureka Garden? Whether or not you’ve already seen the video “Modern Mud Men”, check out the video below to find out how and why I decided to “clean it up”.
To see previous episodes or other videos on the ART AND ZEN TODAY Youtube Channel, click on the link below:
Today’s post is a video entitled “Eureka Moments, Episode 1: A Brief Shamanic Journey Through the Garden”. This is the first of a series centered around our Eureka Garden. A recurring theme in this new series will be “creative collaborations”. The producers of this video make no claim that the Journey depicted represents an actual Shamanic Journey. This video was made for entertainment purposes only; mainly our own. Our goal at Eureka Garden is to foster creativity and fun through collaboration.
To watch the video, follow the link below. Please use headphones for optimum audio quality.
A play about attendees at a Silent Retreat? What would that look/sound like? What are the chances of my reading the article below a day before attending a week long Zen retreat conducted in silence? Reading about art is not the same as experiencing it first hand, but I think you will find this article/ interview of interest. It is about the playwright Bess Wohl and her play “Small Mouth Sounds”. Most of my blog posts have to do with the interconnection between the visual or performing arts but I’ve not written much about the dramatic arts. I haven’t seen the play but I’m guessing my experience of silence over the next week will be affected by this article.
“Play’s silence speaks for itself” LA Times Jan. 11, 2018
A minute of silence onstage feels like an eternity. So imagine what 100 minutes of silence would feel like. That’s exactly what playwright Bess Wohl did when she set out to write “Small Mouth Sounds,” which makes its Los Angeles-area debut at the Broad Stage on Thursday.
Set at a silence retreat in the woods, the play explores the lives of six people as they struggle to connect, and find inner peace, without uttering a word. The play has a few moments of speech, but the only substantial dialogue comes from the person running the retreat — a bodiless voice offstage.
For a writer who admits to relying on witty banter for some of her best work, the play proved a dramatic challenge and a creative triumph for Wohl and director Rachel Chavkin, the latter fresh off the raves she earned on Broadway for her inventive “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.”
As part of a national tour that will take “Small Mouth Sounds” to Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia, Wohl talked with The Times about her process and explained why silence is sometimes louder than words.
What made you want to write this play?
The idea came when I was on a silence retreat. I had been — I wouldn’t say dragged — but encouraged to come by a close friend. I didn’t realize we were going to be in silence. I thought it was going to be a girls bonding weekend. I brought snacks and wine.
But on the first night of silence I simultaneously realized, “Wow, this might be fertile ground for a play.” I had this impulse based on observing other people and thinking they would be great characters to explore, but I didn’t know anything about them because I hadn’t spoken to them.
So the whole thing became this projection of my fantasy about who they might be. I got really interested in the way we project fantasy on each other all the time, and I was interested in engaging the audience in that process.
Did you do more research?
I went back to a bunch of silence retreats. I went to one with my mom, but we only lasted about halfway through. I just got deeper and deeper into this idea. There was a part of me that really enjoyed the perversity of trying to make a play where people don’t speak, and what that would be like. It was all a great experiment.
I started it in 2012, and there were series of workshops with actors. I wrote a bunch of drafts. My first draft, I couldn’t help myself and all the characters immediately started talking and breaking the rules. Then in the second draft nobody spoke ever, and that felt kind of false. What I ended up finding was balance.
I did a lot of workshopping — putting the play in front of groups of 20 or 30 people, so I could understand what information they needed to follow the plot. There was lots of testing with other people, which was part of the joy of a silent play. You have to see it in bodies and spaces.
What does the script look like?
The beginning is about 12 pages of character descriptions. I felt if I were going to ask actors to play characters that barely spoke, I had to give them enormous backstories to ground them. My hope is that the audience can intuit that there’s a lot going on beneath the surface. After that there’s about 40 pages of stage direction, and there are some monologues in the play. The other piece of perversity is that the character who speaks the most is never seen in the play.
I was interested in creating these obstacles in both directions. What is it like to hear and not see, and vice versa.
I realized how hard it is for me to personally sit in silence. The play begins in silence. You watch someone in silence for a full minute, which onstage feels like a very long time. So when I watch I go through a whole arc of anticipation and agony. Part of the project is teaching myself to slow down and sit in silence with something I made. As a playwright it’s hard to evaluate your work because the voices in your head are so loud. In part I was trying to quiet those voices.
I always think any kind of change or growth is jagged — but I definitely have moments now when I can access the quiet I didn’t have before. And then a minute later the voices are back.
How did you hook up with Rachel Chavkin to direct?
I got so lucky with Rachel. We had a coffee, and she had read the play and came to the first meeting with such a clear vision of what she wanted the audience to feel by the end of the play. She wanted them to feel as if they had been at a silence retreat. She said they should leave the theater in a different metabolic state than they came in with.
How would you describe the plot?
It’s tricky to put it into one sort of nugget because every time I watch the play, I see it in a different way depending on whatever I’m going through in my life. What’s interesting about a silent play is that the audience brings a lot of perspective. The audience can project their own experiences and ideas onto the characters.
The play is a lot about the question of inner peace. A character asks whether peacefulness is a worthy goal right now given the chaos of the world. He says maybe we shouldn’t be at peace in a world that has so much difficulty.
How do you feel about the cast that will be performing at the Broad Stage?
I have the greatest respect for this company of actors. Part of what’s hard about this play as an actor is that it’s impossible to perform without being fully present, because there’s no dialogue to coast on. You can’t be saying the words while thinking about the hamburger you’re going to eat at the bar afterwards. Being present is all there is.
Do you think the show will play differently in L.A. than in New York?
I’m really excited to see it in Los Angeles. L.A. has a great community of spiritual seekers and yoga practitioners and people who have been on a lot of these retreats. I wanted to make something accessible whether you’d been on a million retreats or had no idea what one was about.
I’m hoping that people in L.A. can see themselves and laugh a little bit and also engage with the ideas.
What’s next for “Small Mouth Sounds”?
This play is going to continue to tour, and that will be really fun to keep sharing it with people around the country. When I first started this play — as my little experiment, will people engage with this, will people fall asleep — I never imagined it would be a multi-city tour. It was such a tiny, weird idea. We had auditions where we just had actors come in and sit in silence and leave.
What’s next for you?
I have a new play that I’ve been working on that tries to look at questions surrounding climate change. I’ve been working on it for years and am figuring out how to tackle it. Hopefully there will still be a planet next season.
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‘Small Mouth Sounds’
Where: The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; ends Jan. 28.
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