Friday, July 18, 2008

Return to Dystopia

Dystopia - This is one of the most prevalent genres out there right now.

It can be terrifying and yet exhilarating to turn over fortune's stones and see what sort of dilemmas and decisions lie in wait for us, for our children.

There is a catharsis, a sort of power in turning storytelling attention to the future. What sort of determental issues and ideas are we dancing along the edges of? What are the potential tragedies of tomorrow and how can we avoid or unfortuantely enable the various appendages of Apocalypse?

As a storyteller, I find these sort of tales haunt and resonate with me more than others. And, over the following weeks, I'll be attempting to find out who online within the theatrosphere not only agrees, but is open to online collaborating to find out what sort of tales of foreboding various members of the theatrosphere have to tell.

Some things I know already, the process of making this work will be extremely transparent. Along with all the navel gazing and Favorite Things This Week (Returning next week BTW), this blog will be dedicated to forging and documenting an alliance online of storytellers... creating a method, a venue, a world, where we can tell these stories in multiple mediums, but all the while attempting to bring this back to the realm of the live event...I would say theatre but that term might be loaded enough that it turns off certain sorts of creative, it could be a theatrical event, it could be song cycles, dada screed, butoh, ballet, or a sock puppet show about the Apocalypse so long as each tale eventually gets told in multiple mediums, the ultimate one being the live event performed on the empty space in front of a live audience.

The first steps might seem self-evident but lets start talking about them anyway. What comes to mind when you think Dystopia? How would you define it? What sort of dystopian tales fascinate you? Or if dystopia doesn't appeal to you as a venue for storytelling...why? What about the genre's trappings are problematic for you?

Who's up for it? Don't make me hunt you down now...


downtown guy said...

Honestly, after 7 months of reading strictly dystopian fiction, it's pretty well separated from stories of the apocalypse. They sometimes overlap, but dystopias tend to be about the world as we fear it, not the end of the world as we fear it.

Devilvet said...

@downtown guy - Ok, so I'm using the word apocolypse a little too loosely for your taste. I wont refute your point, but I'll just say I was thinking about the protagonists in these stories. Whereas it is not always the end of the World, it is usually the end of their (the protagnoist's world). Perhaps a personal apocolypse seems like a mixed metaphor...

However, Do we have to differiate then "End of the World" versus "End of our World as we know it"...?

I guess i'm wondering is there anything to be gained by seperating lets say Ape and Essense (And Apocolypical Vision) with Brave New World (A Dystopian Vision)?

Is it as easy as saying one is dystopia and the other apocolyptic as subgenres of science fiction/fantasy?

Thanks for weighing in, and please continue...

downtown guy said...

Well, think about it - a dystopia often (but not always) highlights an overabundance of government interference in the protagonist's life. Whereas an apocalyptic story generally tells the tale of a time with no government at all, or not enough to keep the chaos at bay.

However, there are certainly stories that show a dystopian world seemingly on the fast track for the apocalypse (Talent of the Sower by Octavia Butler, for instance) or one in which a dystopian society has already led to the apocalypse, but both are major elements of the story (Oryx and Crake by Atwood, for example).

Don't get me wrong, now, I love both. This is mostly a schism that has become very apparent during the course of my current readings.

Devilvet said...

@downtown guy - So for you...the majority of the time, it doesn't qualify as dystopia unless the protagnoists conflict is with a governmental interference?

Hence a story like McCarthy's The Road which has little to do with Man in Society (since Society has broken down completely) doesn't qualify as Dystopia (regardless of how good the book is as a work of specuative/science fiction)?

downtown guy said...

Well, a dystopia is the story of a "perfect" world with a fatal flaw. That generally takes the form of a society under the strict control of one entity - a governmental or corporate body, for instance, or a dictator/ruler.

I haven't read the Road, so I can't speak to that specifically.