Monday, December 12, 2011

The "Concert Manque" ? or "Three Waller" ?

When asked by a Canadian "what am I
working on, I explain, "its a sort of "Billy Bishop Goes To Manhattan".

" I mean a sort of 'Ten Lost Years' or 'Tighten the Traces, Haul in the Reins'".

They generally know what I mean, right away.

But would the rest of the world?

I doubt it.

However most educated Canadians already know how rurally-raised playright John Gray came to conceive of  the format for his megahit "Billy Bishop Goes To War".

He did while touring rep theatre in rural southern Ontario.

He couldn't help noticing that most Canadians, deep down, think it is RUDE to spy on people up on stage, through a Fourth Wall Removed.

So he elected to have his actors pretend to be in a Christmas Concert -- and thus have an excuse to directly address the audience before they sing.

But his actors also pretend to be Billy Bishop, so I always felt John held back the full impact of his insight.

A better model might be those successful Canadian folksingers in coffeehouses or 'boite a chansons' who have learned to combine a bit of standup/ monologue cum performance art with their song.

They aren't an actor playing the role of a singer, they are a real life singer who tells stories and evokes the past ( rather than re-enacts it in character) with a few basic props, in both speech and song.

This isn't Fourth Wall Removed at all - it is 'Never Been A Fourth
Wall To Remove' .

A Three Waller - a concert.

But it can go too far.

 When the performance only seems to be a concert - because the story telling and evoking is so extensive relative to the singing, and  when it is also supported by too many and too obvious sound effects and props,(ie when it goes Broadway-wanna-be) it really is a concert manque, not a real concert, pure and simple.

Now, that's my objective: a Canadian-style talk 'n' sing three waller that doesn't degrade into a full blown concert manque ...

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