22 March 2011

Theatre As Theatre Should Be

Unfortunately I am completely lacking in the vocabulary necessary to fully describe the theatre experience I just had, and for that I am sorry. (Not that that is going to stop me from trying, of course.)

All I know is that I've just had one of the best theatre experiences yet so far in my life and I want more. It was as theatre should be. It was devastating in the way that it made me laugh, made me think, took my breathe away, brought tears to my eyes and gave me hope.

Before I continue, go right now and see if you can buy tickets to see The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in DC. Your very vision of the world will change after you see it. You know that little closet in your heart and in your head where you tuck the unpleasant things away, shut the door, lock it and get on with your life without too much thought to those things again? Yeah, I have that too...and I just burned that door. It's not possible to put this away when all I want to do is go over and over it again in my mind.

The beauty of theatre was exemplified in a preview night performance. A Pay-What-You-Can performance, in which I stood in line for 15 minutes and paid only, I'm ashamed now to admit, $4 to go see. Slip ups happened in the show and it just made me love it all the more. Mike Daisey was amazing in the way that he could seamlessly slip from the performance to just being Mike talking about how the lights were messed up and all you could do was fall in love and thing "I will never see this performance again, because it is only happening right now. It will be different for every single audience and I get the chance to see this very performance, this beautiful display of art." It was truly amazing.

See? No vocabulary. "Amazing" does not do it justice. Mike Daisey, you have blown me away. All I can think is "everything is hand made" and all I can do is feel my fingertips burning as I type on this very computer with my hands dancing on places that have been touched before...by foreign hands in far off China. Dear reader, this won't have much sense for you to find unless you go and watch this show. Go. Right now. Seriously. I don't often...or ever really encourage in this way, so trust me on this one.

I just keep thinking that this is what theatre should be doing. I've been to plenty of shows before that want to expose some injustice, or I've watched loads of Today Show clips about the inhumanities of the world, and I cry and hang my head and think "dear God there's so many horrible things, I feel terrible, there's nothing I can do that can make it all better"...and then I take that and put it in the closet I have on the inside. I lock the door, wipe my hands clean and forget about it. Sure, I may think on it occasionally and my mind flits over the atrocities that fill up the dark corners of the world. But then it flits away like a butterfly and gently veers away from touching on it again.

Not this show. Mike Daisey pulled me in, made me comfortable even with all his words about computers, because he's a nerd too and aren't we all nerds? Wow he's so funny, I should totally bring my Dad and my brothers to this, they would totally get all the computer talk...wait, I may not understand the terminology but I get what he's saying. This is what I'm thinking during the first half. Then he turns the pages of his notes before him (it's a one man show, this is a preview night, the man needs some notes) and all I can do is remind myself not to sit on the edge of my seat and I breathe a sigh of relief that it's not over yet, there are still more pages thank God. I refused to look at my watch, as I usually do at a lot of theatre performances, because I did not want it to end.

When it did end, he did an beautiful thing. He exposed some horrible things and then he went and left me with hope. The hope that comes with believing in change. And now I can't forget, and I don't want to forget. Because I'm hopeful. And this was the best fucking performance yet so far and I want more.

That is how theatre should be.

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