Friday, May 12, 2006


Originality in the World (and in theatre, film/tv)

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun
(Ecclesiastes 1:9).

This reinforces the common idea of their being seven basic plots:
  1. man vs. nature
  2. man vs. man
  3. man vs. the environment
  4. man vs. machines/technology
  5. man vs. the supernatural
  6. man vs. self
  7. man vs. god/religion
Which of course is open to debate about the number, or the veracity of the whole idea the recycling of stories verses truly original work.

Without getting into a discussion of the boundaries of art, its context, this question of originality can become largely semantics/philosophy. Theatre is unique in each performance, which, being live, can't be repeated; theatre exists in real time, at an exact moment and location, with all of the players and audience never to witness the identical performance again.

No matter whether the 'art' exists on the stage or in the minds/hearts of those watching, in both cases it is intangible and ethereal; theatre cannot be held, touched, or weighed. It leaves only permanent artifacts (e.g., photos, videos, scripts). Therefore theatre would seem to be original always and essentially, even if it participates in traditions and/or echos other works in a more general sense.

Film/TV can be reproduced mechanically, but if we view the 'art' as being what the audience experiences/feels, not the photons (light particles) produced in patterns representing actors, then like theatre, film/TV exists in a given context only once. The audience brings different experiences, thoughts and emotions on each viewing of the same material (e.g., the film Wag the Dog is viewed differently now then when originally released because it was made and initially released before Clinton's impeachment). Therefore, again in a specific sense, Film/TV is always original.

Perhaps each project/story we create or work on is specifically unique, and in a more general sense is inexorably tied to projects/stories that have come before it.

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