Monday, February 01, 2016

Five things that Charles & Ray teach us about play (3/5)

Charles and Ray had an immense love for the circus. One might think of the circus as the ultimate space for play, but what most intrigued the Eameses about it was the prepared spontaneity of the show. They knew that it takes extreme rigor and diligence to put on an engaging circus act. For this kind of play to be successful and look effortless, everyone involved must be nimble—and that only comes with hard work. In a speech Charles presented to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he said:

In the actions of circus people waiting or rehearsing or preparing to perform, there is a quality of beauty, which comes from appropriateness to a given situation. There is a recognized mission for everyone involved. In a crisis there can be no question as to what needs to be done. The circus may look like the epitome of pleasure, but the person flying on a high wire, or executing a balancing act, or being shot from a cannon must take his pleasure very, very seriously.

Charles and Ray applied these ideas to their own work, and they believed that everyone else could too.