Monday, May 5, 2008
The Cult of the Impossible
When I was 20 years old, after my sophomore year of college, I took part in the SITI Company's summer intensive, which takes place every May/June at my college - Skidmore College.
At some point during this summer, some member of the SITI Co., maybe Anne, maybe someone else, forgive my faulty memory, imparted unto me the idea of the "intention of the impossible." Which I have taken to mean is the goal of all theater.
Mind you, I do mean the INTENTION of the impossible, and not the brining of this intention to fruition, for that truly is, as the phrase suggests, IMPOSSIBLE.
You do not become a Jet when you act the part in West Side Story; Peter Pan does not exist and, sadly, no one can fly without the aid of mechanics. You simply do not, from curtain to curtain, become another person - your chromosomes and heart defects and gap-toothed grins stay, relatively speaking, as they are, as they have been from the day you were born.
HOWEVER, you can lie. You can say you are thin when you are fat, you can say you are tall when you are short, and you can say you are a man when you are a woman. And if you say it with complete intention, if, as any good con knows, you believe your own lie first and foremost, then others will believe it too. Simply put - if you intend the impossible, others will achieve it for you out of sheer belief.
But let me toss you a slight curve ball:
When you train with the SITI Company, as I was remembering on the subway today, and bear in mind I haven't trained in some years, and as I have already proven, memory often fails, but as I remember, this idea of the intention of the impossible is part and parcel of Suzuki and Viewpoints training as well. But here's the thing that got me puzzling on the subway: Suzuki is approached with zealot-like exactitude, that seems to beg you, as the author of your training, not to intend the impossible but to actually achieve it. And so I recall getting caught up in not being able to do it "right," which is indeed impossible, and so I don't think I ever performed as well as I could.
I guess what I'm really talking about it is that it does you no good to worry over being right. Impossibility is an arationality (cheers, Professor Stone-Richards) that we approach but never achieve in theater, and we build a rational system off this intention. So too, perhaps, in all walks of life. Do not fret over your rightness, for you are bound to be wrong...most of the time. Open yourself to the very impossibility that you gain more truth in wrongness than rightness.
Looney Tunes' The Rabbit of Seville
Salvador Dali & Luis Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou
Banana Bag and Bodice's The Sewers