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Lesson Plans

Re: Meaning/Size/Production

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
R. Moore (ronmoore)
Tue, 20 Apr 1999 16:42:55 -0700 (PDT)

Brenda's report on her students' experience of several dramatic
productions highlights the issue of response to magnitude of production,
an aspect of size in art we haven't talked about much in this space. It
does seem to me that we are often overwhelmed by huge, ambitious,
spectacles. Think of all of those Ceci b. DeMille extravaganzas with
their vaunted casts of thousands. We are stunned by the size of the
spectacle, stunned so much we stop noticing nuances and subtleties
sometimes. In a smaller, more intimate production, we have no choice but
to focus on the little things--they are what's there. Each has its place,
I suppose; just as both Aida and the Fantasticks have places. But surely
sometimes producers count on size, just as they do on special effects, to
make such a splashy impression that we don't worry over the quality of the
acting, the singing, the ideas in play, etc. Not always, of course.
Kant had some very interesting ideas about size. He thought that
we are sometimes so overwhelmed by the vastness of things--the starry
night sky, the endlessly beating ocean, mathematical infinity, etc.--that
we feel at first utterly defeated (we feel "like a mite on a cheese"); and
yet, we recoil from this defeat by rising up in appreciation of the fact
that we can think these things, be aware of the disparity of our
understanding and our imagination, and of our freedom of thought. He
called this the experience of the sublime, and thought it was a key
experience in the development of moral consciousness.
Any reflections from folks at this site about art and the sublime,
or about the way student response to overwhelming size, might, vastness,
etc. might seem to lead onto moral ground?