CREATIVE ELEMENTS COLLECTIVE PROJECT
INVISIBLE MAN Ralph Ellison’s
Crying in the
THEATRE PRODUCTION & DOCUMENTARY FILM PROJECT Interactive iBOOK
This interactive iBook records in words, pictures and moving images, Creative Elements collaboration with Crying in the Wilderness Productions (CITWP) as they developed their ‘Invisible Man’ showcase for the Decibel Performing Arts Festival. Text, Photography & Photostyling, Film Editing and Book Design by Creative Elements Collective
GALLERY ‘Particles of Light’
CLIENT CRYING IN
THE WILDERNESS PRODUCTIONS
PRODUCE THEATRE SHOWCASE SET DESIGN & COSTUME
for DECIBEL INTERNATIONAL
PERFORMING ARTS FESTIVAL MANCHESTER
CREATE DOCUMENTARY FILM
COMPANY’S PHILOSOPHY & APPROACH TO ADAPTING THE
INVISIBLE MAN FORTHE STAGE
‘When it occurred to me that the man had not seen me, actually..’
ART OF HUMANITY
Creative Elements has a strong affinity with Crying in the Wilderness Productions who, ‘bring a more diverse cultural approach to seminal works and new writing to inspire a greater appreciation of individuality, diversity & heritage.’ Our practice is akin to their philosophy and holistic approach to the arts & learning. We embrace any opportunity to work with the company, as timeless themes & ideas are emphatically explored & envisaged, with a fervor that invigorates our own creativity & work.
OUR APPROACH TO THE
PRODUCING THE SHOWCASE OBJECTIVES FESTIVAL
The Decibel Performing Arts Festival provided Crying in the Wilderness Productions (CITWP) with a platform to promote their ‘Work in Progress’ project – an adaptation of the ‘Invisible Man’. The aim of the showcase was to create dialogue around the company’s work, circulate their new writing and attract potential collaborations with theatres that would finance the development of the ‘Invisible Man’ project into a full-length touring production.
Working with a seminal novel such as the Invisible Man, filled us with excited anticipation: the PRODUCTION & DOCUMENTARY FILM challenges were immense. Not only, did we have to consider how to respect the text & pay homage to the writer Ralph Ellison: a global social commentator whose messages on marginalization still resonate today; we also had to capture the deeply intellectual & spiritual process applied by CITWP to create this dynamic piece of theatre. These challenges were at the heart of the commission; fueling a vibrant collaboration and creative journey that still continues today.
At Creative Elements we were responsible for PRODUCING the showcase this included: arranging rehearsal space at Shakespeareâ€™s Globe Theatre, creating a range of promotional material, developing a marketing strategy, researching delegates, chairing the Q&A session, securing reviews, organising meetings and negotiating potential collaborations with theatres on behalf of the Creative Director prior and during the festival in Manchester.
SET DESIGN AND
THE SET & CHARACTER’S IMAGE
During the early stages of rehearsal, we created an interpretation of the Invisible Man’s home environment as described in the book. Throughout his self-imprisonment, the character surrounds himself with familiar and well-loved objects in a final attempt to comprehend his exclusion from the society that has marginalised him.
INTERACTIVE: TEXT FROM THE NOVEL INSPIRED THE SET DESIGN & CHARACTER’S IMAGE
CREATING A Ellison’s places the Invisible Man in a basement, this is his place of refuge, a place of peaceful solitude and dynamic discourse as he considers how to navigate through life and understand the world around him. It is in this environment that the character undergoes his self-imposed internal battle to discover a deeper inner connection and ultimate spiritual enlightenment.
Drawing on the insights of the character from the book, we created a ‘made environment’ to aid the actor; helping him to tap into the intricacies of the Invisible Man, awakening a creation that went far beyond the surface and connected to a higher premise as reflected in the novel.
The carefully selected objects were intended to allude to a ‘man of vision’. The books, travel cases and tools, we believed denote a practical man filled with intellect and aspiration.
BJECTS As the Invisible Man spends the quiet hours reflecting and listening to jazz; the objects that surround him influence his thoughts, informing the audience that he is not dictated to by the trappings of the outside world or defined by the objects, they simply exist to sustain him.
GALLERY: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT REHEARSALS IN THE ‘MADE ENVIRONMENT’
MINIMALIST SET Following the exploratory rehearsal days within the ‘made environment’, it was identified that a MINIMALIST approach to the SET DESIGN would be most effective as it could depict the invisible man’s complex world of ISOLATION and the carefully selected objects would reflect American Society in the 1950’s.
Today ‘INVISIBILITY’ continues to affect many marginalized groups in our society, so it was essential to ESTABLISH THE CONTEXT of the play as the audience entered the THEATRE SPACE.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG set the scene MUSICALLY and the minimalist props and costume design evoked the 1950’s era: a time when America was on the verge of IMMENSE CHANGE as so powerfully described in the novel. AUDIO 1: LOUIS ARMSTRONG -What did I do to be so Black & Blue?
SET DESIGN & COSTUME
reflecting the eraSHOWCASE
MOVIE: SHOWCASE at DECIBEL
The performance and subsequent Q&A session took place at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) to a full house of delegates, promoters, producers, programmers and venue managers from international and national theatres. This 3-minute film features highlights from the showcase.
EXTRACTS Royal Northern College of Music RNCM
On a professional level I found the performance was rooted in a vivid clarity that reflects great credit on both the director and the performer. It was an engaging piece of theatre that revealed new depths and strengths that I had not considered previously. This staging of Invisible Man goes further as a metaphor for a whole spectrum of ‘invisibility’ in our society. I commend Paul Morris and his team for their impressive work thus far. Hassan Mahamdalie Senior Strategy Arts Council
A simple set designed to evoke the period of the book’s publication: a bottle of Jack Daniels and a shot glass on one table stage right, another with a valise and a clock stage left, a chair centre stage indicate that after trying to make it in America, the unnamed Invisible Man, in his collarless shirt, braces, trousers with turn-ups, and brogues, has embraced his invisibility and occupies his chair like a throne in his kingdom where no one can see him.
I liked the simplicity of the entire setting because I felt that everything that surrounded him, added to the information about the character. Anjum Katyal
The Invisible Man is a vivid look into the distorting mirror of racism and a brilliant realisation of a seminal text. John O’Donoghue Theatre Critic Disability Arts
The simple set and limited props add to the piece, with the audience accepting that it is supposed to be 1950’s America. Parvin Ramchurn
FILM CITWP’s wanted their work and the seminal novel to reach a more diverse audience. An audience that are affected by the issues of: invisibility, identity & isolation. This perspective influenced our approach to the ‘look & feel’ of the film.
Following our consultations with the creative director, it became apparent that along with documenting the Invisible Man project, the film had to feature the company’s philosophy and spiritual essence which, underpins their holistic approach to the performing arts. By illuminating the creative process of the company, the context for the adaptation and the level of thinking applied by the director could be established. The film was an opportunity for Paul Anthony Morris to be recognised as an artist with an international perspective whose creative work exemplifies his philosophy the: ‘Art of Humanity.’
FILM What did I do to be so Black & Blue?
INSPIRATION The whole novel is framed by the prologue in which the central character sits in his home, listening to Louis Armstrong sing ‘What Did I Do to be so Black and Blue?’ The Blues influenced Ralph Ellison’s writing greatly. The complex interplay between jazz and the written word stirred his senses, evoking powerful imagery and the ability to express the complexities of the human condition.
To pay homage to the writer & express the musicality of the theatre piece, we turned to the classic ‘Blue Note’ album covers to inspire the design of the film. We felt that the ‘Blue Note’ style by Reid Miles, encapsulated the essence of jazz from a contemporary perspective, dispelling the myth that traditional jazz resides only within a bygone age. The decision was made to create a documentary film that would source inspiration from the prolific designs, thereby finding a way to connect visually with an audience more familiar with this typography & style.
THE DYNAMIC DIALOGUE BETWEEN JAZZ & THE WRITTEN WORD This documentary film communicates the company’s artistic vision & innovative process to adapting the seminal novel for the stage.
SEQUENCING and LAYERING the INTERACTION between the TEXT, AUDIO RECORDING, PHOTOGRAPHS and the MOVING IMAGES, creates a DYNAMIC SENSORY EXPERIENCE for the viewer.
PLAYING with the DIMENSION, STYLE and MOVEMENT of the FONTS, the CENTRAL IDEOLOGIES behind the CREATIVE DIRECTOR’S approach to the PHILOSOPHIES weaved within the text of the prologue could be emphasized & explored.
INTERLACING the moving images and photographs with each other, the TWO - DIMENSIONAL quality of a BLUE NOTE JAZZ SLEEVE took on a NEW ENERGY, REFLECTING the COMPLEXITIES of the METAPHORS expressed by the PROTAGONIST: the Invisible Man as he CONTEMPLATES his identity.
IMPACT REVIEW OF FILM FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
‘The documentary film of the Invisible Man transcended every aspiration that I had attached to the outcome of this film. The filmmaking, the design, the integrity, the sensitivity and the intelligence of the film has also been widely appreciated by our colleagues in America, South Africa, India, Holland and the UK. The documentary film of the Invisible Man honestly captures, in a very dynamic way, the very essence of our company and has successfully established a truly international profile for us.’ Paul Anthony. Morris
RESEARCH & (R&D) DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
FULL LENGTH PRODUCTION & TOUR 2013
A week long ‘Research & Development’ (R&D) project has been commissioned by the Bush Theatre http://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/ in April 2012 where the documentary film will be screened.
A full length Invisible Man production & Creative Learning programme are in the pipeline for London in 2013 followed by a National & International tour
CREATIVE ELEMENTS COLLECTIVE
INVISIBLE MAN Ralph Ellison’s
All quotations from Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 1952 Modern Classics Penguin Book Edition
Text Photography & Photostyling Film Editing iBook Design & Editing by Creative Elements Collective
Photographs & Photostyling © Sarah Nunn & Kweku T.Blackwood All rights reserved; no part of this e-publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the Publishers.
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© First Published 2012
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