Monday, November 16, 2009

it's the journey that matters

Last night I caught AMC's remake of The Prisoner, and watching it dovetailed nicely with thoughts on some of the prep work we're laying down for a couple of projects that COI is working on. While the new show starring Gandalf and Jesus was very good, it made me think on Patrick McGoohan's original, which was (in)famous for its lack of resolution.

I'm the first to admit that I'm a cheap television whore, and especially a sci-fi whore. I love conceits, but rarely stick around for the whole story. I will tune in for the beginning of apocalypse movies -- I like to see how people say the world is going to end -- but I really could give a rat's ass about how the hero perseveres against the odds.

Accordingly, I never had much time for The Prisoner growing up (I was a Star Trek fan -- I wanted me resolution in an hour or less). Open-ended plots left me feeling cheated. (I'm hesitant to say this is a matter of maturity, because I'm also a huge Battlestar Galactica fan, and show was nothing if not one big whopping a-ha of a conceit.)

But watching the show last night I started to understand the joys of setting up parameters in order to let characters play, without too much of a concern for The Big Picture.

I think a lot of that has to do with the two projects we're working on for COI. Both projects -- one if a film project under the guidance of Sara Wolkowitz, the other a play directed by Leah Bonvissuto -- entail a 13-month process whereby a small group works in depth and at length on a project, the performative aspect of which is very hazy. Instead, the entire point of the endeavor is to delve deeper into character development and the creative process.

We'll announce each of these projects in more detail in the weeks and months to come, but in the meantime I was struck by how much my tastes have shifted in what I consider a payoff. Not two years ago it was gratifying enough to mount a show for a few weeks, sell some tickets, and feel like I'd accomplished something. By the time we got to this summer, I couldn't care less if we had an audience or not: I needed the process itself to be something transcendent, regardless of who was watching.

It was after the whirlwind that was doing Wrestling the Alligator and The Third Seat back to back that I realized I wanted something more out of this group. I was just lucky to have my ears open when both Leah and Sara, unbeknownst to each other, proposed very similar endeavors. Two year-long collaborations with no performance in sight are about as far from the Equity showcase code as you can get. And the absurdity of that process was how this company got its name in the first place.

We'll be talking about these things more in the weeks to come, but it's interesting how sometimes projects fit a larger pattern, a pattern that defies even our most outlandish goals.

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