29.4.11

using stolen fire

As the myth goes creation itself, the very spark of life was stolen from the gods by man. We gained knowledge beyond our grasp and dissolved the hold of apparent higher powers over our exploits. 
But the question begs to be asked, 
how do we use this fire?

As human beings we have the innate gift of creation whether through the freight-train tenacity of invention, the nurture of offspring or the varying mediums of art.
In the later there are few times when the strangest of tides pull seemingly disparate individuals together and fuse them into an almighty force that impacts the medium upon which they land. 

Promethean ideologies inspired Mary Shelly so much in her writing of 'Frankenstein' that it became part of its sub-title. The idea of mans creation being a compulsion that causes his reach to overstretch his grasp still holds true to the ubiquitous tale of a scientist obsessed with his work and unable to appease the voice of his creation.
And like the greatest bands of the past and present, who bring together influences from the full gamut of music so too has the recent stage production of 'Frankenstein' from the National theatre.
If it wasn't now a matter of fact, telling someone that you wanted to put together a play that involved 28 days later director Danny Boyle, Underworld , BAFTA winning TV writer Nick Dear and actors such as Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch of recent Sherlock Holmes TV revamp fame, would have seemed ridiculous. But it has happened and, thanks to National theatre's 'Live' scheme, it was the friday matinee which was streamed live to a local cinema so that myself and miss F could bask in its awe.


There a myriad of review for the play which can tell you how good it was as an adapted stage production. But I wanted to talk more about its grace as an amazing collaborative production. From the offset, even a hundred miles away and through a cinema screen, the performances drew on everything you know about the fragility of the human condition as Benedict Cumberbatch spent the opening ten minutes groping around the stage portraying the birth of the monster.
The set was open, empty and yet dynamic as it shifted between human showpieces, minimal suspensions of disbelief and grandiose mechanical marvels. Mark Tildesley should be applauded for bringing the electricity of underlying themes subtly to the surface with true grit and beauty. Underworld's score/sound design was a breathtaking mix of calshing industrial percussion and repetitive, modern and minimalist pieces akin to the work of Philip GlassThe combination of stunning performance, heart rendering music and skilfully adapted direction on a stage that seemed capable of anything did exactly what theatre is supposed to, make you forget the world you live in and believe in the world of someone else's creation. In essence this was theatrical Jazz, talents coming together with few rules and less expectations.  


I imagine the creation of this play to be very much like I expect the founding musical footsteps of bands like Portishead and Massive attack. It is what breeds greatness in both art and humanity the ability to accept and assimilate the best of a wide range of influences to create something better.
Collaboration can be one of the most rewarding creation tools for an artist, mainly because it takes the pressure off of the 'all-by-myself' mentality and brings the fresh eyes and ears necessary for those times when creation isn't always a free flowing process. Although fraught with ego clashing, pitfalls, when met on an even keel of respect and the ability to accept new ideals and influences one can open up to greatness as this play has proved.
I hold it as stone forged mission to allow as much influence to seep in as possible. And even though I do work predominantly on my own, the bringing together and presentation of great pieces of art serve to remind me that everything that is done is built on solid and personal influences which can hopefully be shaped into something wonderful in the future.

Below is a track from the plays score, please be sure to catch a performance if you can and look through the catalogue of work of the people involved.
Dawn of Eden by Underworld

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