Archives for August 2012

Fresh Roten

Okay, I want to join the Die Roten Punkte fanclub.

The Cultch opened its 2012/2013 season last night with Die Roten Punkte’s new show, Eurosmash.

Die Roten Punkte, which translates as The Red Dots, is a two-person parody band. Its German members Astrid and Otto Rot (Australian comedians Clare Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias) are brother and sister, but they don’t always get along.

In Eurosmash, Otto, heavily influenced by U2’s Bono and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, wants to do good—or at least sing about himself doing good. While he blathers on about saving the world by eating fruit, Clare stuffs herself with chips, rolls her eyes, and swigs vodka “for the pain.”

Bartholomew is a particularly skilled physical comedian and Tobias is a wonderful clown; in his innocence and sometimes desperately vacant focus, Tobia’s Martin kept reminding me of my dog.

These guys are clever social and commentators and they can REALLY REALLY ROCK OUT.

Their show is only up until Sunday. Go see ’em.

Personal growth—in three acts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stories are about struggles—successful or not—to grow in wisdom and understanding.

In a HAPPY story, the hero starts from a position of relative weakness or vulnerability, decides to face his fear, struggles to overcome his concrete problems, and eventually succeeds in doing so because of an increase in personal wisdom.

The three-act structure is built to support the notion of personal growth. The protagonist often refuses the Call because of a perceived weakness (“I’m not brave enough”, “I’m incompetent”, and so on). But the Intervening Mentor convinces the protagonist that the protagonist is the only one who can do what must be done. Despite being afraid, the protagonist crosses the first threshold. He pursues his Act 2 Goal, but experiences defeat at the end of that act. The hero realizes that he wasn’t addressing the problem on a sufficiently fundamental level, so he readjusts his goal in Act 3. In the Act 3 Climax, the hero faces his fear directly, proving that his struggles have taught him bravery, competence, or whatever he needed to learn. And, because of that internal change, the hero triumphs.

If there is a negative outcome—to be reductive, if the story is SAD—it will be about a failed struggle to grow in wisdom or understanding.

Creating a strong narrative spine

A strong story hangs from the clear, simple spine of a consistent, though deepening goal. The protagonist refines his goal and his understanding of his goal changes, but he does not shift his focus from one distinct goal to another. To say this another way: the Act 3 goal emerges from the Act 2 goal. Or, to express this as a formula: Act 2 Goal + deeper understanding = Act 3 Goal.

In a strong story, all of the narrative steps clearly support the simple spine created by the evolving goal. One step builds upon another so that there is a sense of constant accumulation. In the Call to Adventure, for instance, the protagonist is invited to embark on a quest, the quest that he will pursue, in an ever-deepening way, throughout Acts 2 and 3.

Titanic is titanic

Titanic, which I saw at Malkin Bowl the other night, is an oddly non-flashy musical. There’s virtually no dancing and there are no big show tunes. Still, it’s a very satisfying work and director Max Reimer gives it an extraordinarily handsome production.

On one level, enjoying Titanic is like enjoying a concert. The score is vast and richly complex, and, under the excellent musical direction of Kevin Michael Cripps, the massed voices in this mounting are a deep pleasure to listen to. Sayer Roberts, who plays a young workman on the ship, has a lovely tenor—and star potential.

Lauchlin Johnston’s ultra-simple set, with its wide screen for projections and it’s elegantly stark deck railings, is by far the best I’ve ever seen at TUTS.

This production is epic. And it’s a beauty.