‘As It Appears In Dreams’ was built upon the essences, emotions, and narratives of the core characters of Chekov’s ‘The Seagull’ in an exploration of artistic identity. The performance, existing within what we as the creators felt to be an ‘artistic purgatory’, raises a core question of what it means to be an artist, allowing the audience to experience such questionings in a state of immersion that presents a particular character’s perspective. For this reason no two experiences, or ‘journeys’, will provide the same audience experience, and in turn each journey deserves its own dramaturgical analysis, as well as an overarching one. For this reason this analysis is divided between a brief overall dramaturgical analysis and a more detailed, specific one for the ‘Trigorin Experience’, the aspect of the performance I created.
The performance, due to the projects prescribed limitations – its occurrence in Regent’s Park, its sound basis, the element of gig-theatre – meant that an overall cohesion occurred. However each journey was designed so neatly with the specifics of the character who informed it, that each bore traits entirely of its own. In turn, to discuss the dramaturgy of the piece it seems clear to highlight the measures taken to inform a continuous experience between each journey and the finale.
Aesthetically the finale took on aspects of various performances, such as the red boats from the Trigorin experience, and the bottles from the Masha experience. The key continuation however was found in the undertaking of character essences by members of the finale, this being in some cases clearer and smoother than others. The passing over of the underskirt between the Arkadina Experience and the Arkadina embodied in the finale (Celeste Combes) creating a linear structure within their piece that their audience observed, so they could follow the metamorphosis of the traits of the character they had embodied or followed. Moreover, the essence of Masha (Audree Barve) was almost guarded by the members of the Masha experience, who stayed close to her bar, and undertook tasks of serving drinks alongside their counterpart. Some crossovers were more subtle, such as between the two Konstantin’s, one who held the space and the other who controlled it as their production (Reka Pavel and Matt Powell respectively); others were without are clear connection, but this could arguably be a portrait of the dreamlike quality of much of the experience; because as an audience you only participated in one piece, aspects of the finale were totally unexplained, much like parts of dreams that appear nonsensical or totally irrelevant.
In interpreting other dramaturgical decisions made within the finale it feels difficult to speak of them, as much of the piece I was not party to, and did not have a hand in making, and so am not at liberty to discuss.
Trigorin Experience Analysis
It seems somewhat ironic the depth and magnitude of our piece and all its layers when so few people experienced it. Nonetheless, our piece held a coherency and consideration I feel greatly proud of, especially dramaturgically.
Firstly, the element of the game and its recurring presence came from an understanding of Trigorin as a man; he thirsts for power over his artistic life which he entirely lacks, and yet he plays with people on a personal level, for no purpose other than to fulfill himself. The game became overarching as well as present on specific levels, and my own role within the piece adopted the persona of the ‘game maker’; in a way Trigorin sometimes appears I was omniscient, always appearing at points of importance for guidance or concern, and then providing the obstruction at the end of the piece, one that puts the audience of the defensive.
The introduction of following Conor within the piece provided the incentive for audience participation; he represents that which is desired, but is just out of reach. For us Conor embodied the lost youth of Trigorin, but in developing the script this became less explicit, leaving interpretation open, so that Conor could embody whatever the specific audience member desired.
We introduced elements into our audio and into the reality of the piece to enforce the ideas of a dreamworld. In the opening of the script reference is made to “having followed him [Conor] into sleep”, while the chessboard used in our piece, presenting only one piece, was to aid in forming an undertone of the eerie and otherworldly. We used various textures in the sound to add to this.
Finally, the use of the origami boats was an indirect reference to Trigorin, as a character who is referenced to spend much time by the lake fishing, within The Seagull. The boats and their close placement to water throughout the journey was a subtle tie to this element of the source text, but also provided a platform for us to add a textual element to, this again being a direct reference to Trigorin’s art. The poem written that was formed on the notes could be read in two ways:
Only traces of me remain
Into lovers limbs and strangers faces
Into empty pages
Or as follows:
Only traces of me remain
Fading into days
Fading into lovers limbs and strangers faces
Fading into empty pages
This decision to construct a poem in two ways was to give the audience autonomy in how they themselves would write it. Though no reference was made to this during our piece, we made enough notes to ensure the audience could keep them, with the hope they would go and re-read them, finding their own meaning within them. We felt this to be a was to open the question of artistic identity back into reality; to give the audience member themselves tools to form their own piece with its own meanings.