If you've ever read Mortimer Adler, you'll be familiar with his almost bullying suggestion that a serious reader must have books that look a mess. He contends that one must fully interact with a book, to wear it out with underlining, highlighting, dog-ears, margin notes, and so forth. Having grown up with library books and being more than a little vain, I was not, in my formative years, inclined in this direction. I found his argument compelling and, in my personal library, you can tell whether I've read a book before or after hearing Mr. Adler out.
So often I find that I want to take digging into what I am reading even further. Much like I said in my previous posts, I not only want to consume books, but also allow them to consume me. Most of you also know that I majored in Theater with a great deal of focus toward the production end. Most of you also know of my intense interest in fashion.
Laurie and I have decided to set aside a day or two each week as "Project Nights." We've found that even when one tries to elevate the entertainment, it is still a very easy trap to come home in the evening and park one's self in front of a lighted screen. So now, one night a week, we forbid Facebook, movies, and so forth and focus our waking hours on creative acts. Gina even joined in and retaught herself to knit.
For Christmas, my aunt sent me an artist's sketchbook (large, blank, white pages.) I had been wanting to get back into sketching. I thought it might be nice to create preliminary design sketches for a production of The Oresteia which, odds are, I shall never have the real opportunity to produce. Like so much of design, the ideas are the most engaging part and the realization is a luxury reserved for those with the astonishingly good fortune to be able to get funding for their design work.
It has been at least five years since I have sketched anything at all, so I beg your gentleness. Great or not, it is a thing that I have accomplished. I found it to be a charming way to interact with material that I am reading, one in which I break out of the exclusively analytical. I will tell/warn you, I intend to do more of this sort of thing.
I began with the Furies, who I found to be some of the most compelling characters in the trilogy. Wonky perspective and placement should reveal that the figure in the center was the first of the three which I drew. By happy accident, the shoulders and arms came out much more masculine than I had originally intended and that early moment lead to a complete rethinking of my mind's eye production. I had intended to mount a traditional production, but the shoulder's made me think "Of course the Furies are drag queens!"
From there I focused my efforts towards a production where the modern and the ancient blur. I tried to create a different sort of modern feminine look for each of the three, each of which were rather harried. The figure in the center's dress is meant to suggest skin removed with exposed muscles. They are all, of course, dressed in blood colors. One of the steps in the process of stage design that I used to love was the creation of a color palette for the production. In this one, I have reds and blues to highlight the steel and blood, rage and death, and so forth. There are some purples for royalty and whites and brights for gods. I decided to have not a stitch of green onstage because green suggests life and growth to me.
The figure seated is Orestes. The antechamber is open just enough to glimpse the carnage. In spite of how your mind might wish to fill in the colors of his suit, I am thinking he ought to be exactly as drawn, in a white suit with dark blue outlines. This is to tie him a bit with a motif I had for the gods and to something else which I'll discuss later. His hair is bowlish and suggests a helmet.
Apollo came out with a hint of twinkishness about him, I think, but I think it's acceptable for Apollo to have a dash of the twink. He's the god of light after all. He is, however, meant to be holding a lantern in the sketch and not a purse. I sort of like the idea of playing around with the concept of an imposing figure from a variety of directions. Perhaps this says more about my own worldview.
I have no idea why Clytemnestra ended up at a Batman villain angle. I wanted her to be somewhat of what the contemporary colloquialism would deem "a cougar." I also wanted for her and Aegithus to be the most indecent characters in the whole piece. I expect the awkward intimacy of their robe lengths would be highlighted whenever they are in a scene with anyone else. I picture Aegithus as a bit of an entitled snob, but I also wanted his wardrobe color scheme to mirror Orestes in the ever so slightest suggestion of the Oedipal. As a side note, Laurie walked by when I was drawing Aegithus and said, "Ha! Nice Dr. Manhattan there!"
Athena turned out to be my personal favorite of the lot. I cannot put my finger on which female pop musician from my childhood that she reminds me of, but I would insist that sparks actually come off of her crown.
I wanted Electra to harken the most back to Agamemnon. I think it fitting and probably reveals my thoughts on the appropriate character choices, her motivations and so forth. I felt like every action and probably nearly every word spoken by her character point to her super-objective of honoring her fallen father (and the anguish over the gross dishonor that has come upon him.) She is a bit more of a child in this sketch than I would anticipate in actual casting. I think "waif" in general is more what I would envision, but maybe more of a young woman wasting away in fury. I pictured Agamemnon as a sort of "fallen" version of Paul Heerman's bust of Winter.
There is the fruit of my evening's work. I did not make any set design sketches, but I imagine I shall in the future (for future texts. I think this finally marks the end of my dalliance in The House of Atreus.) Dioramas, puppets, and incidental music to follow.