Wednesday, May 17, 2006

From Playwright to Performance Artist to Provocateur: Mead Hunter

Interview by Followspot PDF (1.7MB)
May 2006

If anyone understands links between script and stage, it’s Mead Hunter, who, at PCS, searches out new work, assisting collaborating artists while preserving the playwright’s vision, ensuring the company remains relevant, engaging. Throughout Portland’s theater community, he’s a venerable voice advocating for, above all else, theater that knows it’s theater.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating read. I like his quest for new work that illuminates "how we live now".

Refreshing to hear from someone who has a lot of experience with regional and national theater.

Please followspot - more of this!

Very interesting.

Carol said...

wow -- interesting!

Anonymous said...

Mead Hunter is a treasure.

james said...

an excellent, thought-provoking read, and i would encourage everyone to take a gander. mead's attention to the local theatre scene, with his perspective and keen eye, is definitely not to be taken for granted. he is a champion, and a great mind and heart to have in town. thanks, fs.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about submitting this to Oregonian or some other newspaper, magazine? Is there a regional NW theater publication out there?

I have to think there is a larger audience for a piece like this than just those of us who will find it on followspot.

Jason said...

"Theater that knows it's theater."


Anonymous said...

There are many ideas / issues here I would like to hear more about.

Anyone have any thoughts?


Page 10

"I'm an old school structuralist from way back. I believe that a play's structure delivers its meaning."

Can anyone give some examples of specific plays that do this - where form equals content? And what about some where the form and content are at odds?


Page 11

"I look for plays that know they're theater - that use stage space, that are aware that an audience is only feet away from the stage action."

Again I would be interested to hear some pro and con examples. What is a play that knows it's theater? And what is one that does not know?


Page 11

"New plays written with that fourth wall, eavesdropping convention (like in Uncle Vanya, Dance of Death, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?) tend to feel...well, conventional, because we expect film to suply that You Are There sensation."

Don't understand this point at all.


Page 13

"...a lot of (theaters) love to reductively equate theater with storytelling....I also think there's much more to theater than merely spinning a yarn."

This may tie in to question 2. What is the difference between storytelling and theater? Can you have great storytelling and bad theater? Examples?


La Foi said...

In regards to #4: here is what I think. Storytelling is one aspect of theatre, one tiny important aspect. I love storytellers, and all that good storytelling requires in my mind is one person who can tell a good story. And maybe some wine. But theatre... one of the things it's about is story, but it's also about mood, and sound, and visual symbols, and the electricity of watching things happen. We are WATCHING the story, not just listening to it. When my dad is telling a really good story, he doesn't need lights-- he doesn't need theatricality. The story itself, his ability to spin it, is what draws me in. This can be what draws me into good theatre-- but it isn't the only thing. And it limits theatre, I think, to equate the two forms. That is why to say theatre is only about storytelling is reductive.

I saw a show in Poland that took place in a swimming pool, and involved crazy lights and bright red pails and a woman singing an aria before jumping into the pool. I have no idea what the 'story' was, but the impact of the piece was extraordinary. These potent, eclectic symbols were transmitting and echoing to an entranced crowd-- and it was happening LIVE. No one knew what would happen next, and we couldn't wait to see.

I guess that's true of a good story, too-- that you don't know what will happen next, and you hold your breath in anticipation-- but it doesn't use the same tools. I could listen to a story on the radio.

This is getting very long so I think I'll leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the two types of theatre (storytelling and nonstorytelling) might be similar to the difference between realistic art and abstract art.

Anonymous said...

What I can say about Mead is: I think he is the single most vital member of the Portland Theatre community. I can't fathom why he isn't the artistic director of PCS.
And for that matter, why isn't he a damn member of the Drammies?