Frictionless Theater

Arthur Penn talked about it. This Frictionless Theater.

Isn’t that just theater without conflict? Or does it refer to the process itself? A process without friction leads to…what? A play without conflict? And round and round we go…

I dunno. I like the phrase though.

Frictionless Theater.

And what about its opposite?

Friction Theater.

I think I like that better.

Makes me think of sparks. The friction I used to make when I was a little boy, under the covers, rubbing my head against the cloth late at night, then dragging my finger along the cloth, watching the electricity explode from my finger into the blanket, like a Norse God, Thor the God of Thunder and Lightning, the snapping and crackling. Or was the blanket sending the lightning back into me?

Didn’t matter. The effect was everything, the wonder, the spectacle, the tingle in my flesh. Electric.

That mystical blue charge. Is that the stuff of great theater? The charge that exists between audience and performer, performer and playwright, director and designer?

Friction Theater.

Yeah. Let’s do more of that.

Filed Under: colin mitchellFeaturedPonderings


Colin Mitchell About the Author: COLIN MITCHELL: Actor/Writer/Director/Producer/Father, award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Broadway veteran, Marvel comics scribe, Van Morrison disciple, Zen-Catholic, a proud U.S. Army Brat conceived in Scotland and born in Frankfurt, Germany, currently living in Los Angeles and doing his best to piss off as many people as possible.

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  1. Kevin Delin Kevin Delin says:

    One needn’t be disagreeable when disagreeing.

  2. kelly says:

    in my university theatre program I found myself in endless improvs with people looking for a “problem” or conflict- and as it was young people, i think every one of them included “you kissed my boy/girlfriend.” i quickly switched to performance art and dance practices for inspiration and that spark