Wednesday, May 30, 2012

a few theatre notes.

Just about a year ago I saw Mike Daisey’s How Theatre Failed America at the Seattle Rep and stayed afterward for the accompanying roundtable discussion. This roundtable brought together actors, directors, people who worked in arts funding, and the artistic director of the Rep, Jerry Manning. There was a sadness and disillusionment that night, from both the people who make theatre in Seattle - people who love what they do so much they are willing to pour their souls out to you night after night, for a lot of time and energy and very little money - and from people who go to the theatre but don’t always feel that what is being produced is necessarily speaking to them as an audience. I walked out of the theatre with a flickering sense of rage touched with despair. A few nights before I had seen THIS at the Rep and O LOVELY GLOWWORM at the Erickson, produced by the New Century Theatre Company. By the end of the year I would see about three dozen plays from several different theatre companies around Seattle. Some of it was terrible. Some of it was amazing. It still wasn’t enough. Next year, I thought to myself, I would do more.

It is the end of May and I’ve seen somewhere between twenty-five to thirty plays since mid-January. Here are the last three:

I still have no idea what Beckett’s HAPPY DAYS is about. There is a sense of the end of civilization, of being as stuck in the past as Winnie is stuck in her mountain of sand. As produced by New City Theatre it was beautiful and intimate and desperately confusing, at least to me, more like a piece of music than a story. You see this echoed in Pinter, too, but that is another story for another time.

BED SNAKE at Washington Ensemble Theatre was a confusion of a different sort. Even with a slightly bigger space than New City’s - it has about forty seats to the latter’s thirty or so - it was still like being crammed into a shoebox. It wasn’t so much a play as a Faustian love story spliced with a rap video, all set to a hip-hop beat. There isn’t any other way to describe it.

The New Century Theatre Company does a monthly reading at a bar near the Seattle Center. Intiman and the Rep are a block away; On the Boards (the old ACT space) is up the street. This time it was Abi Morgan’s TINY DYNAMITE, which is kind of a love story wrapped in the threads of friendship, grief, repentance, longing, and the hum of electricity, interspersed with stories about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again I am happy to see actors I know and love; again I feel a wave of gratitude for this group of artists who love what they do so much they gather together on their nights off to make more art. This is what draws me to the theatre, again and again, this sense of community, this sense of interaction and collaboration. May it continue, like a ‘riot in the heart.’

No comments: