Thursday, August 28, 2008

Storyboard II...You reap what you sow

As I did not attend the Argonauts movie, some of the references are beyond me, but I've tried to remain faithful, in as much as I can remain faithful, to what was said during the meeting! Feel free to add comments, corrections, etc as I inevitably will have misunderstood or misconstrued the motives and concepts of those others who were present. Meeting included Emily, Mark, Douglas, Soozin, Malia, Tara, Violet and some amazingly salted tomatoes and cucumbers. Ahem.
The meeting convened at around 8:20, and began with vague expectations for the meeting. Things like, hey it should be a 45 min show and maybe 5 sections of 10 minutes each or so were posed. So now, and with full warning that this may not make entire sense, I will transcribe my notes.
The (argonauts) film didn't tell the whole story anyway, there are a million versions of this story because it's a myth. So, where to begin with the story in the show?
The gods conspiring and manipulating in true marionette fashion? Personally, I'd like to see a giant stone fist chasing and smashing everyone like in that one movie Mark and I both know but the title escapes us, but nobody else got it. Anyway, Soozin referenced Dave Pitman and liked the idea of using a scrim of some sort that could be both retractable and mobile, screen worlds governed by rear projection, possible incorporating shadow puppetry into the projections. This might be a good option for long shots, epic battles seen from afar, et cetera.
What is the myth, what the hell IS the fleece? Why are the guardians guarding it? Well, Douglas says, the fleece began its life, as fleeces do, as a lamb. An airborne lamb with an impressive wingspan who was sent by the gods to intercede when a father was going to sacrifice his son. Familiar, eh? Biblical even. Abraham and Issac anyone? Okay so the lamb takes off with the boy and his sister, but she falls off and he survives, but for some reason the people kill the lamb and hang its skin up on a tree. Again, salvation, crucifixionesque themes, lamb of god, paschal lamb, scapegoating. The Catholics in the room should be getting this. But it's a short walk from the classical mythology to the Biblical tales, isn't it. So, why do these people kill the savior? Sacrifice of the instrument that stopped the original sacrifice. But that story lacks monsters so we might not even include it.

Contemporary Golden Fleece= Control, prosperity at the poverty of others. The fleece might not even be all that important, really, it's the quest that's the point! Jason struggles to prove his manliness and his mettle. Power is never given, it is stolen. Ha! So, where does this story take us? To the magical end of the world. It is a trajectory away from the familiar, away from childhood, (although Jason is pretty damn helpless at times), and towards the exotic, the barbaric, only to return home having found that the familiar is more barbaric than the barbarians. The Argo heads off to a series of Islands which might represent the ages of man, the chapters of weird vices and bloodred sobs that characterize the 'coming of age'. We look in the mirror with horror and incomprehension and then we stop looking. Or maybe smash it. It's an ordeal, this growing-up thing.
So, we return again to the beginning. Do we begin with Jason as an old man, about to be crushed beneath the ancient rotting hulk of a ship poised above him (it's kind of like a metaphorical giant stone godlike fist!) Do we being with the gods arguing, with a prophecy ,with the olympic competition for who gets to go on the Argo, with some folks on a boat?
Alright, enough of this uncertainty, Soozin says, 5 episodes, we need an intro, three episodes and a finale of some kind. How the hell will we do this? The Chorus will serve, much like in Innana's Dissent, to chapter the tale, to clarify the chaos, and to give some wicked good songs.
Suddenly Mark announces that the image of the Fire-Breathing Bulls yolked to a plow, ferociously snorting as Jason scatters the hydra's teeth, which erupt into skeletons, is something he wants to see. It's both harvest-timey and Dia de los Muertos. All in one! Douglas, reading deeper into the political possibilities, envisions ethanol being a factor, Mechanistic bulls maybe? Fuel as food. Burning your food for fuel while the neighbors starve. Agrobusiness heinous transgressions of late. GMOs. Death seeds. Malia has a vision: Long snakey white vines that burst forth from the gound and bloom with skull lanterns. The vines entwine people, strangle them, or trap them...But what does it all mean? Jason duels death by making it kill itself, but death can never die. So, maybe we need to make our peace with it. But that sounds sappy, we need hungry ghosts, vanquished warriors who perished in the quest Jason is even now pursuing! But where did those teeth seeds even come from?
Hydra. Mark likes the idea of the hydra as a sort of water goddess, snakes for arms and heads and skirts, Is this an agriculture goddess? Snakess, water demon lady?
Yet again, the chaos is tempered by the determination to get something somewhat concrete out of this meeting. So, Soozin asks, what is this story? 1) Flying lamb saves the kids and is killed. 2)Jason raised by centaur, wisdom and warcraft and outdoor survival. 3) Jason is old enough to claim what's 'his', on his way meets up with an old lady who may or may not be Hera incognito, helps her across, loses his sandal 4) Finally meets his usurping, or not usurping, uncle and his uncle send him on a quest that Jason himself is responsible for picking, and the n he leaves. So then
The Islands, or, more accurately, The Misfortunes
Island where jealous wives have killed their cheating husbands and for good measure all their children and now are just waiting for a convenient group of mostly men to arrive and take up house and hearth again. Temptation to stay. This isn't really a misfortune.
Island where there's the Sirens who lure the men. Temptation.
The Islands which are freaky crashing rocks. mark want s to see a crashing rock ballet
Then finally, there's all this madness with the three tasks set to win the fleece, the last of which is killing the skeletor warriors, I think. Once on the boat, Medea goes and kills her brother, chops him up and tosses his pieces like a trail of breadcrumbs behind them.
Soozin talks about the Georgia: Batumi (did I spell that right) is where the Golden Fleece originates. See Soozin for details.
The minute you gain insight in your life, you create your own destruction. Is this the message? How does this relate to the current election? The story could be seen as a succession crisis...the ancient election. Life out of balance leads to an unbalanced death. Like the election, the quest doesn't really matter, it's just another pony show. In the world of the Argo, colonization is popular. A handful of dirt, a flag justifies centuries of oppression for the natives, human and others.
A merry go-around: what we want to see in the show
Mark: the bulls, bulls, bulls! Skeletal teeth, Hydra has aspects of american culture, we sow our own ruin. Malcom X-The chickens coming home to roost.
Violet-Clashing rocks! Definitely have Medea as a badass party crasher, she invades the wedding and ruins the wedded bliss. Heh heh heh!
Tara-Harpies, starving creatures, Medea must atone for her sins. How do you right the wrongs? Justice vs. Attrition. Tribute to the gods.
Soozin-chorus and how to use it. Singing narration, music that moves plot forward, seasnake lady. Tribute. Altars.
Malia-A story simple enough for people to understand, disgestible, clear metaphors, seeds, reaping what you sow. Skulls and long trains of white fabric, puppeted together like a giant body. Argos and Jason as kids, maybe girl's circus.
Emily- Damn, I want to see this story not be about Jason. Maybe Medea, maybe a hydra, flaming bulls, dresses, crew and other things can tell the story their way. There is no objective story of what happened. Everyone covers up, elaborates. Fluid puppetry, people not hiding behind puppets or props, but bodies being a core part of them. People animating themselves as well as props or puppets, this is where the dance comes in.
Douglas-A tragedy! We rarely have them and this would be a good time. Heart of darkness, going into the savage unknown and finding out that you are just as terrible or worse than your worst nightmares.
Closing Notes:
Because I'm writing this, I'm putting in my opinions last:
The meeting went for around three hours and it felt circular at points, but I feel like we accomplished a lot in just knowing what people like and don't like. Obviously there were only a few people at the meeting and tons of opinions just with those few! Some want to keep the show mysterious and layered and complex, some want it to be clear and simple. Some people want the show all wholesome, some want it dark and tragic and creepy. Some want political meaning more than others, or in different areas. We're a diverse group. I personally do not want a happy, see it can maybe all work out if we care enough show. That's what Mayday is for. That's not a slur against Mayday, it's a reality of what spring offers, hope. This is the time of year when you reflect on the harvest, literally, when you reap what you've sown. It can be a joyful time if you've sown well, but realistically, everyone's stocking up food and strength for the coming winter. I'm not apocalyptic, I think life is beautiful. It's just that there's a beauty in the dark, the grotesque and the horrifying that I don't want to see whitewashed. Tragedy's popularity endures because being sad, scared or hopeless is essential to being human. Without it we're clean, pretty dolls, with nothing to give gravity to our experience. Anyway that's it. Give me tragedy and darkness.

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