As I have mentioned here before. I like Top Chef. The new season takes place in Chicago which is fun. I was reading Tom’s blog about the episode last week (where they were limited to only 5 ingredients) and thought that it was an interesting connection to theatre. Basically, his premise is that immature cooks will use a multiude of flavors and ingredients to cover up sub-par cooking.
“It’s very tempting for cooks (especially here, in a competition setting) to want to dazzle us by loading the plate with numerous ingredients and a complicated presentation, but that can be a sign of immaturity. It takes self-confidence to select just a few great ingredients and cook them in a way that allows their very essence to emerge.”
How is this relevant to theatre? In regards to design, (and perhaps to technical solutions) I think. Special effects, towering scenery, lots of set pieces all relate to a lot of flavor and ingredients. One of the questions I ask when a show is over budget and we need to make adjustments to the scenery to get it into budget is what is the essence of the show and the design. And, it amazes me how many times this question is very hard for the designer to answer – and “it all is”, is not the answer. I think in some ways it’s why good designers can often create fabulous sets when budgets are very limited, and why too much money can be a problem. And why this step in learning is necessary. If nothing else it helps creativity, and helps to boil own what is truly essential for the design for a particular production.
Of course the experience of working with adequate budgets, products, and materials is necessary also.
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