AWSI: What’s Visceral Got To Do With It…

Our periodical “ponderments” over the weekend weren’t limited to The Wall Street Journal. We had some time to catch up on “The Times” (as in The New York Times) and the “Pink” section of The San Francisco Chronicle. What caught our eye was a word in common: “Visceral

>> Being or arising from impulse or sudden emotion rather than from thought or deliberation << [caption id="attachment_8246" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Definition found online. Definition found online.[/caption]

In the run-up to the release of the new Avengers movie, The Chronicle had a story (“Whedon tries new terrain” — though titled differently in its online version) which had some notable quo tables from director Joss Whedon:

The "Pink" Headline

The “Pink” Headline

“Yep, yep. I felt like it was time to grow up a little bit,” he says. “You still want it to be a movie children can watch, but at the same time, we’ve got to delve deeper or why are we coming back to this well? The Avengers can’t just have another adventure. I’m not ready to make Episode 2 of ‘The Avengers Show.’ I want to make this a more visceral and intense experience than the last one, and hopefully not so different that people go, ‘You lost the magic, bro!’

Visceral and intense…

Has us curious… very, very, curious.

A theater piece in The New York Times Arts & Leisure section from 19 April (yeah we’re playing a bit of catch-up ball) grabbed us initially because it was about Anne Hathaway and Julie Taymor “tag-teaming” on a one-woman show called “Grounded.”

NY Times piece on the "Grounded".

NY Times piece on the “Grounded”.

The story was written Q&A style. This, in particular, grabbed us:

NYT: Julie, you are known for your visual gifts — my colleague Ben Brantley has called you “the director who redefined spectacle on Broadway.” How do you start to think about a monologue?

Taymor: I reduce everything when I’m working, even “Lion King,” to an ideograph — to the most simple image that represents the play or the character. In this case, I felt invulnerability. The beginning is a fighter pilot in a helmet, and whatever mortars or bombs, in this case represented by sand falling, it bounces off. It bounces off her as she stands there in front of a black mirror that is endless.

The emphasis on the helmet.

The emphasis on the helmet.

She goes on to explain:

The idea of visuals has been very maligned in our culture, to think that it’s second place to the script. It’s a complete knitting together when it’s done well. It’s not one more than the other. It’s there to give a visceral experience to the words…

So there we go again with “visceral.” To us, this is about engaging the audience on a number of levels.

It also reminded us of how blown away we were when we say Taymor’s work making “The Lion King” come to life on Broadway.

These days we are bombarded with all kinds of stimuli. And the brain can get overwhelmed and possibly shut down. It’s good to stop the seemingly endless stream / flow to think of the implications.

For example, for some, a one-woman show may have zero interest. But here, the story behind the story, as well as the story itself and how it is executed, is an attention-getter. Dossie’s “Idea, Energy & Power” is alive and well in “Grounded.”

It seems to us that under Joss Whedon’s helm, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is more than just a Marvel property brought to the big screen to generate a ton of revenue for Disney. We will be seeking out the story within the story.

BTW, we love how Joss refers to his role in the movie as being “Marvel’s consigliere.”

“…but the last five years of birthing “Avengers” juggernauts and serving as ‘Marvel’s consigliere’ (his words)…”

Curious to read / see more on this topic?

The Guardian Story on Grounded.

The Guardian Story on Grounded.

The Guardian interview with Hathaway & Taymor

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