Friday, February 10, 2006

Wrights of Play

What is the play that has changed your life? Have you seen a production that changed the way you look at the world, or read a work that altered your entire perception?

I joined the playwrights for their lecture this morning. (I'm an honorary writer, it seems.) On most occasions there is more conversation than lecture, which is definitely a good thing. An interesting point was raised: Do we ever really see, or read, or even write plays that take us to the pinnacle, that exemplify all that they are capable of? Or, rather, do we simply keep up with our attempts in the knowledge that some grander good is possible (having seen glimpses of it), even if we never reach such a summit? We may recognize moments of sublime truth in bits and pieces, and so we continue to chase that elusive completion of the whole.

It is that reaching that keeps us writing and creating, that striving that pulls us in new directions and allows new tactics, new voices to emerge.

I traveled to Trafalgar Studios this evening. Theatre has now become my prime means of relaxation: the thing to do when I want to turn off my echoing thoughts (well, that and watching What Not to Wear/ Project Runway...*sigh*...such a weakness for fashion-related programming. Please don't judge me adversely.) Colin Teevan has been on my list of contemporary writers to read for quite some time. Instead of reading, I listened to a little under 2 hours of incredibly melodious and textural speech, his written words flowing through the mouth of actor Greg Hicks. In Missing Persons: Four Tragedies and Roy Keane, Teevan reveals his poetic and rhythmic voice by giving us 5 monologues . The variety and depth of each separate character was an unraveling mystery to behold. And the space had accepted that same textural sensitivity as the text, with smoke, flame, wood, leaves, fabric, chains, water, smells,....every detail in place. Teevan himself describes it: "Missing Persons are stories of modern men in crisis, alienated and isolated from society: in other words, apt men to find in a black box."

This morning we discussed the notion that every play was in fact political. As was the process of writing one, of sending out a message into the world. You can't say anything interesting about human beings unless you are engaged with the world at large.

We've been grappling with our entry point into verbatim theatre and it's political/social responsibility. "Issues" are daunting, but people aren't. Just read Hare's "The Permanent Way" for proof that ANY subject or historical event has a human connection that should be explored.

And shouldn't we do our part to stir up a consciousness? To a degree, we want to be confrontational; asking questions should create a reaction of some sort. And perhaps we can start to inspire heated debates in the foyer post-performance. It's a hard thing to do nowadays, or at least it seems that way. We each wrote down a list of the five things we considered to be the most pressing issues in the world today, and what was #1?

(Getting someone to care. Drawing people out of their reality-tv bubbles. Educating ourselves. Becoming involved in politics. Looking past our own kinespheres. Finding a relationship to the bigger picture. Taking responsibility.)

Missing Persons: Four Tragedies and Roy Keane continues at the Trafalgar Studios through 25 February.


Blogger P'tit Boo said...

Loved this post.

What interesting questions they make you ask yourself !

What were your 4 others... just curious ( after apathy) ?

I think it's amazing you can see theatre to relax. It's very hard for me to relax watching theatre. Once in a while a piece takes me and I can turn my critic off. But most of the time, I can't relax. I am analyzing everything about it and how I would have done it ... how it's good. how it's bad. the acting etc....

Kuddos on you for being a specialist who can still enjoy it as entertainment !

5:17 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

In no particular order, these were the concerns that came up:

Environment. Terrorism. Establishing a global community. the Media Culture. Capitalism. Racism. Classism.

And all 3 Brits said: How Democracy Doesn't Work.

(At first 5 was hard, but they just keep coming after you start...)

Goodness, how do we begin to fix these things?

5:09 PM  
Blogger Justin Kownacki said...

CAN you fix these things with art?

I wonder how much of apathy involves our being desensitized as a collective whole. The world has seen so much, and we constantly consider ourselves to be at The Limit of Human Experience. It takes a huge event, whether artistically or culturally, to get people to feel something they haven't felt before, or feel something so strongly that it motivates them into action.

Thanks to worldwide news and the Media Culture, we've also established the reality of "No Matter What Happens, We'll Be Fine." It stems from a necessity to give mankind hope in times of tragedy, but all it's really done is desensitize us to that tragedy (or glory) and lead us into a false(?) sense of security regarding our place in the world -- nothing we do matters, because regardless of war or charity, the world will keep turning and we'll keep having babies and making money.

If art is a reflection of the society that creates it, how much art can be expected to move people when it's borne from a society that moves no one, and produces psyches who are incapable of being moved?

12:23 PM  

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