20 November 2016

musing about theatre

Back in DC!

It was a beautiful whirlwind of a trip to California. I was so happy to be able to see two of my siblings perform - one at his music residency, and one in a college production. In fact, C had the opportunity to play a much bigger part than she originally had because her friend fell ill and wasn't able to perform this week. So C stepped in at the last minute to learn the lines and blocking.

She did a wonderful job with an interesting part in a totally bizarre and thought-provoking piece of theatre called Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play

***spoiler alert***

If you are not familiar with the show and would rather not know the details before seeing it, you should probably skip this entry.

Wikipedia does a commendable job of summarizing the play in a comprehensible way:
"Shortly after an unspecified apocalyptic event, a group of survivors gather together and begin to attempt to recount the episode "Cape Feare" of the television show The Simpsons. The second act picks up with the same group seven years later, who have now formed a theatrical troupe that specializes in performing Simpsons episodes, with commercials and all. The final act is set an additional 75 years in the future. The same episode of The Simpsons, now a familiar mythos, has been reworked into a musical pageant, with the story, characters, and morals repurposed to fit the artistic and dramatic needs of a culture still reeling from destruction of civilization and the near-extinction of humanity decades earlier."

I found the production itself occasionally hard to watch and follow. Partly because a large part of the dialogue was written out verbatim from an improvised exercise where actors tried to recount the Cape Feare episode. It involves a lot of thinking patterns that are inherent to speech but don't necessarily translate as well when put into another actor's mouth and then performed on stage.

That said, the themes that the play explores - loss, loneliness, entertainment, how we find meaning when the things that we rely on daily are gone - are profound and disturbing. At its best, I would say that this production explores the importance of narrative. As one reviewer of a Chicago production said, the play "tells us that the worse things get, the more we need our stories." And not just the stories, but the pieces that surround and enhance our stories - like music, and even commercials. 

No comments: