On 11th of September a small group of us went to see 'Schrödinger' by Reckless Sleepers in Sherman Cymru. Here you can follow our discussion and thoughts on the show. Feel free to join in!
‘Schrödinger’ references Beckett and Magritte more than Erwin Schrödinger, the Austrian quantum physicist. A box was central to this theatre piece as it was to Schrödinger’s thought experiment where his box was used to demonstrate the flaw in the concept that a thing is not in a fixed state until it is observed. According to the prevailing quantum field theory in 1930s, the “Copenhagen interpretation” would surmise that the cat that is locked inside may be both dead and alive at the same time according to the balance of probability but be in only one state or the other when the box is opened. Common sense tells us this is cannot be the case, and Schrödinger used this to highlight the limits of the Copenhagen interpretation when applied to practical situations. The cat is actually either dead or alive, whether or not it has been observed. This did not have a reference in the play other than a cat was chalked up on the wall at one point as one of many images
Conceptually ‘Schrödinger’ was about randomness and the futility of action as humanity tries to impose meaning and order on the world. Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” is unsurpassable in treating such themes with a narrative but Reckless Sleepers do a spectacular job of dynamically choreographing them using walls to depict them with chalk, and trapdoors and hatches to pass players and props in and out of the box.
A criticism aired in our discussions after the performance was that an audience needed reference points to get much out of the play conceptually. For instance there is a ranting line repeating the word “mountain”. This was intended to link with the parabola image of wave movements pertaining to quantum field (and "so what?" you might say), and green apples with reference to more than one of Magritte’s paintings. It might have been useful for the programme to refer perhaps to these, especially “The Son of Man” which shows the face of a man partly covered by a green apple. In response to questions about its meaning, Magritte said “It doesn’t mean anything, because it’s mystery, and mystery means nothing, it is unknowable“. Such makes more of a strapline for the show than what Schrödinger said about his box...
“Common sense ..prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a "blurred model" for representing reality....which would not embody anything unclear or contradictory”
Hello Critical Chinwaggers,
I had a very enjoyable debut as a new ‘wagger at the Sherman’s hosting of Schrodinger.
I knew very little about the piece, only the title and the fact it was going to be a snazzy design-led piece. Clutching on to my rudimentary understanding of the ‘cat in a box’ theory, I eagerly anticipated a theatrical safari into quantum physics.
I have to say my expectations were neither fulfilled or subverted, what unfolded on stage were 1001 possible uses of a very clever box with lots of hatches and extreme choreography wriggling through this many worm-holed construction.
Abstract text was delivered in dead-pan fashion, performers appeared and disappeared with unfeasible agility, water in wine bottles was drunk by the gallon in balletic synchronicity, fragments of scenes (relating to the signified and the signifier?) unfolded one after another, apples … a dizzying display. My response to this inventive physical fayre began as a mix of admiration and puzzlement but ultimately ended with frustration and disengagement.
Perhaps it was my own fault for walking into the theatre with an expectation, but surely this was intentionally evoked by the title of the piece?
We had a fantastic discussion betwixt the chinwaggers after, evidently many of you others had enjoyed the piece as a highly subjective/associative provocation. The chat ranged from ‘if a tree falls in a forest …’ to ‘ultimately the performance exists in the minds of the audience’ … and far beyond. Perhaps what I missed was a sense of collective experience - but apparently this was exactly what the performance did not set out to achieve.
Schrodinger is most certainly a very clever box of tricks - but you have to bring the fireworks.
Firstly, sorry for not joining in with this discussion sooner! I've been frantically running around London with rehearsals! Anyway, moving on...
I loved it. Loved it loved it loved it.
Well, one of them was because of how differently everyone experienced it and reacted to it. Isn't it more exciting to create work that does split the audience that mediocre work which everyone leave thinking 'yeah it was alright'? I mean, we wouldn't have had such an interesting conversation if it wasn't such a broad show.
As Paul mentioned, we did talk about all sorts of stuff (looking back, not sure if it was relevant or not ha!). But the fact that the show did give us very little 'story' or direct information made us work for an audience member. I'm personally sick and tired of being told what happens and how a character feels in a show. I think writers/directors/devisers/performers/designers...any theatre maker can mis-judge audience's intelligence and continually assume 'oh they won't get that bit'. Fine, at this point I am talking about general story-telling... and 'Schrödinger' wasn't exactly 'story-tellinging'....more 'story-making'. (ha! How poetic ey??). But what I mean by 'story-making' is that the show was there to provoke ideas, and find our own story by showing a series of very different images, sounds, movement, words etc... At last! I can improvise a piece as I want!
I don't know if I told you guys the other night...but I love Rothko. He's the guy that does paintings which are blocks of colour. I'm sure you'll find a lot of art jokes about it. But I love him. Along with a LOT of other people. (There's even a Rothko Chapel in Houston). And the reason I love his work is because, on the face of it, yes it is just a canvas with a block of colour. But you can get completly lost in that colour. And you find some sort of wierd emotion growing inside you when you see one of his paintings. It's seriously this amazing feeling as though you are watching the end of 'The Notebook' or 'Titanic' or when you watch 'Jim Carrey's endless amount of hilarious faces'. It's a really strong emotion which grabs me from inside. And I can't explain it. Because...at the end of the day it's a block of colour painted by some guy I don't know.
This may seam off topic. But there was a reason why I said all that. It's the idea that Rothko gives you so little and such simple stuff, and allows you to interpret it. True it won't effect everyone. But when it does, it really does. And I think it's the same idea with this show. YOu were given very little, and because of that you fought to find what it meant/what the were trying to say etc...until you exhaust yourself and start finding different ways to interpret it. Because we can't watch 'Schrödinger' the same way as we would watch 'War Horse'. You know?
Hm...that's making me think actually. Maybe we can? There was drama...
Ok I think I'd better stop and have a think.
When I've thought a bit more I'll come back to you guys!
I've been thinking about how this performance made me feel for a while now; a cathartic response if you like.
Firstly I thought about the impact the actions made by the performers and the repetition of these actions had on me. Secondly I took into consideration events that happened in the box and compared them to events that took place outside the box.
But there was something else that had an impact on me that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I then remembered how I felt at the end of the show, the silence, the rain fall, the single dim light and that's when I remembered the music.
I appreciate all music and do believe that music has a strong ability to make you laugh, cry, remember, forget, love, hate as well as many more emotions and affects.
I recalled a programme I watched once about how music works. Here's a link to a part of it......
Was the way I felt both during and at the end of the performance mainly caused by the music?
If so, was this a conscious decision by Reckless Sleepers?
If not, was the music necessary? Could the performance have had such an impact without?
I'd like to know what you think. I'm still undecided.
The music is very much part of the piece - it wouldn't be the same thing without it - it and we as performers would feel empty.
It would be great to have more thoughts, especially now that time has passed, of course for me the experience of doing the performance is different, its etched inside my body so much that I can do the piece now, without any hesitation, I too like the Rothko paintings its a long time since I sat in the room and just looked, took a deep breath and had an opportunity to think...
And thats key for me that space - that opportunity to give a witness or spectator or audience member the opportunity to tune in and then tune out and think.
Of course its impossible for us to imagine what might happen in the 100 minds of people witnessing the world that we have made, and I'm OK and happy with that, I'm OK with art being able to do that, and I'm sure that some people in the room didn't have a positive experience - hated what we presented but again thats OK.
A positive experience endorsed by the Wales Arts Review