When you design and build the settings for a theatre performance, the stage lighting, when you see and feel those two elements interact both with each other and with you… what does that make you? An Architect or an Actor?
Most people might answer: “Neither”.
But I say: “Both!”
The architect through his work, along with his design decisions and his vision, can influence the lives of many people, how they move and how they live their environment, the relations between them. The same thing happens in the case of a theatre stage. A person’s life is influenced by this person’s surrounding environment, and the same thing goes for the activity of an actor that cannot be cut out from the specific space where it happens. The theatre stage is also the reality for the actor, an environment where, via his parts, he gets to live emotions, he is being faced with his life, he develops relationships and interacts. So, the set design for a play and the set lighting, the careful placement of every tiny object on the stage, can affect the activity of the actors, the way they explore and use the space and their motions, the way they feel and experience this new reality that is being created. Of course, there is a great difference between the reality that any man goes through in his everyday life and that which the actor lives on stage.
Because in the second one, anything can happen…!
On these few, but miraculous square meters of stage, the actor transforms himself in seconds into a femme fatale, into an unrefined man or into a savage animal, he has the ability to fly or walk on walls! So, the theatre can be a challenge for an architect, as in this case he is called for to not only design but also envision whole different worlds and not just the small part of them that is seen on stage, but everything there is to it. Brand new worlds that have never seen the light of day before, the architect has to find their form and their structure, how they actually function, their inhabitants and their lives.
In order to become the architect of this world, though, you have to experience it, to comprehend, to move inside it, to become one with it.
In my case, this rationale began reversely. Architecture and theatre where two different and completely separate chapters of my life. The first became the profession that I wanted to pursue, whereas the theatre was just a past-time activity. At some point, as my obligations towards both had increased, I realised that these two chapters where not that far the one from the other. I could see that there is a part of one inside the other or that the one is just another dimension for the other.
This is when I noticed that in the theatre I didn’t just act as an actor, but also as an architect. Another kind of architect, who with his decisions he affects not only the lives of everyday people, but those of imaginary characters as well. And as in life outside of the theatre I am just another person in the crowd, in theatre I am also found among those characters. The difference here, and indeed an interesting point, is that on stage everything looks bigger, the hero is affected more easily, he reacts intensely, every little alteration of his movements, his attitude and his emotions can be triggered by an equally small change of scenery. As an architect, I could now see that each time, my choices cannot be just choices, but that they have to be decisions, as they affect and determine situations.
So, my experience and the knowledge I gain form being an actor affect me in my work as an architect of the actual world. As an actor I learn to substantially live the space, to actually conceive it with all of my senses, to search for stimuli around me and to observe how these have an impact on me, to enhance my memory ability so that I am able to remember situations and reactions that belong to me or to those around me in any given environment.
In the end, I am an architecture student, currently going through my last year of studies. Maybe it’s too soon for conclusions. However, I am going to allow myself to express this thought. There is no book, no professor and no conventional course that can teach somebody how to experience and comprehend the space he’s in as well as his environment.
That important and necessary lesson for an architect was taught to my only by the freedom that the stage, this magical place, offered me so generously.
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