Friday, May 16, 2008

My painting (XXV) & The Magic Flute

As at 9th May '08

Over the next few weeks progress on my painting will slow down as more studio time is taken up with The Magic Flute, now only six weeks from opening night.

The long all-licensed time of fantasy is over for director Simon Callow and his designer when they could hoot and bray and throw their toys out of the playpen. Now the Real People take over, the technical team armed with hammer and needle, tape measure and plan. Impressionistic schemes must be turned into reliable structures and scribbled drawings develop into feasible costumes.

Sketches like these have to be carpentered and painted to make practical doors in a firm wall.

First study for back wall with nine doors, Act 1

First study for back wall with nine doors, Act 2

Making proper working drawings which answer the questions, how thick, how high and what precise colour, is my current task.

Somehow panic strikes every production as if it were a necessary ingredient to theatre. Keeping up with Simon's quicksilver shifts of notion and scheme has provided the excitement so far. Now all must be transformed into low budget reality.

So it must have been with the mercurial Schikaneder, the performer, librettist, director and impresario whose original show this was. Who else would, within the first five minutes, have a Japanese prince attacked by a snake and rescued by sinister veiled ladies, then left to exchange existentialist repartee along the lines of Waiting for Godot with a man very like a bird.

Sarastro's emblem

Some details can be fun to do. Here is (for the Parsifal aspect of this multi-faceted piece) Sarastro's emblem of office, a freehand drawing to be enlarged and printed on cloth. As a perk of the job I will get the wardrobe dept to produce a T-shirt similarly emblazoned to add gravity, power (and maybe some magic) to my ping pong.

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