The Infinite Ceiling

I can’t recall where the idea of the infinite ceiling first came from. I don’t remember if it came up in a class during undergrad, if I read it somewhere, if I ran into it in a place completely unrelated to art, or if it’s something that came to me out of the blue. But it’s an idea that I continually go back to for inspiration and motivation.

There are many things in life that are finite. You start your taxes, and then you finish your taxes. While I’m sure a great accountant could find various ways to get a larger refund or finesse the way the numbers worked out, there are only so many combinations, and at the end of the day, your taxes are (thankfully) complete.

You could say that theatre is, in many ways, finite as well. In fact I think the temporal nature of theatre is one of its most exciting elements (note: “the temporal nature of theatre” is almost certain to be a future blog topic). Theatre operates in real time. A production opens and then it closes.  It ends and cannot fully be revisited. You can’t buy it and put it in your home or a gallery, you can’t pop it into your Blu-ray player or stream it to your iPhone.

However, as it relates to theatre, this “Infinite Ceiling” idea applies to the creative process of bringing stories to the stage. With any great piece of art, and particularly with literature of any kind, there are seemingly limitless ideas, questions, themes, and connections to the lives we’re living that can be found in the words. No matter how many times you’ve read a script, performed a play, or seen a show, new thoughts emerge. Sometimes it’s a specific idea. Other times something new surfaces in the shape of fresh mental pictures, sounds, silences, voices, or colors. So, if there are endless things to be pulled from a text, and we in the theatre have the ultimate responsibility to bring these scripts to life on stage, then our offices, rehearsal rooms, and performance spaces must have this infinite ceiling. Every new discovery could completely change the play for us and ultimately for our audience as well. Every morsel we uncover will provide another layer of depth, understanding, reality and connection for the people sitting in the dark observing. For the artist, this makes every second of preparation vital.

I think of this often as I’m analyzing a script. Regardless of how much research has been done or how many times I’ve been through the play, a voice reminds me “There’s more in there. Keep digging.”  The Infinite Ceiling idea makes every minute of rehearsal precious, be it spent discussing a moment in the script, working through the physicality of sequence on stage, or perfecting the timing of a light cue in tech. There is an immediacy to creating theatre and we're at our best when treat our work with the highest stakes.

Therefore, I decided to title Dobama Theatre’s blog on all things theatre “The Infinite Ceiling” because the thoughts generated by both creating and experiencing art are truly never-ending. Whether it’s an examination of how theatre is made, commenting on the stories being brought to the stage, or connecting with the people that are creating theatre, the ideas spawned by our art form are as endless as the human experience. [insert reference to how each human is like a snowflake here] How exhilarating to be a member of a global artistic community that is as different as the people that comprise it and to work in an art form that intrinsically evolves as the world itself changes.

Feel free to comment on the blog postings. This is a fantastic forum to engage our Dobama family and the greater theatre community on a variety of topics related to our art form. Passionate and persuasive arguments are welcome; just keep it respectful, folks!

With Love and Respect,

Nathan