Today we had a TEAM meeting with one member via speakerphone and some members in absentia. We talked about theatre as a form of diplomacy. I want to write an article about us for a theatre publication to answer a literary request about why people make international art. Rachel informed us that an article based on a very large TCG / theatre conference has already been written very much about this.
When I make theatre I think about the Greeks. I think about ritual lately* (*in the past 5 years to present, espeically 2 years to present) and I think about the ancients. And I try to connect to the idea that human beings have gotten in front of other human beings and acted things out for them for quite a long time. This is nothing new and the concepts are pretty simple. We initiate each other. We witness. We take each other through things. Mystical tour guides. Symbols. Ciphers. However you like to slice your potatoes.
Talking it out.
We talked about being embassadors for America. This Embassadorship (totally my vocab) is interesting to me. We go abroad or within our nation and create a space where there exists, in essence, an Imaginary America. Is this like an Imaginary Number in math? I’m not sure. . . Riddle me that one. Regardless, we create this space, through a ritual, where sometimes we resurrect the Hall of Presidents – and dead ideas, literally dead bodies, are reincarnated. Channeled, the spirit of them. And by reincarnated spirit I mean not so much this necro-zombie-religious-punk (though that’s cool) vibration but moreso the Energy of the IDEA of the Person – we attempt to tap into some of their very own personal political zeitgeist that they particularly brought into the world. We are literally trying to move our nation forward by mining it’s past – history, poetry, collapsing, civil strifes and broken levees – as it’s own fuel. Like a soldier, riddled with bullets, cutting off his own leg to hack his way through the woods.
Speaking of riddled soldiers –
I was talking with my parents this Labor Day when we were at the Jersey Shore, and we were talking about the upcoming election, ever so lightly, so as not to disrupt our peaceful and amiable weekend – NOT that we disaGREE about politics, as far as I know thus far – but just because, as Frank Boyd so aptly puts it, sometimes, these things can get . . emotional. So in talking with my parents, I came up with this idea that America is often behaving like a soldier whose body is already riddled with bullets but he decides to, as an aggressor, go and pick a fight with some body else doing something to somebody elsewhere. Instead of – – taking three months, letting himself heal, and pulling out the shrapnel.
Is WHY even really relevant to ask here?
I just have always wondered, and I get this from my Dad, why we don’t take care of the poverty, the flooded cities, the health care system, the farmers, the illiteracy, the lack of healthy land, here – at home – before we go abroad telling other people how to live. I see this national prioritization mirrored by my own psychological makeup when I was a little kid. So is this a human sample or is this intrinsic to being American? For example – as a kid, I was much more interested in what the other students were doing and somehow one-upping them than actually investing in my own essay, in my own solutions. And an A only really meant an A if somebody else got a C minus or better yet, was sent out of the room, halfway through the exam, all of us craning necks over shoulders and eyes peering under downexambookcasted eyelids, for a detention.
Subjectivity? Competitive natures? Totally just me? Relativism?
I meant to write this blog entry about our meeting today – about how we are endeavoring to rewrite the play (just a bit) (although the word “overhaul” was lobbed or lobbied around as either for or against). I intended to write about how I wonder if it even really matters how much I do know about Margaret Mitchell, or what the South really means to the South if I cannot ultimately control how you see this mainly anonymous character – the author of an icon of American pop culture – who exists moreso historically through the lens of what she produced than she does as seen through the time and the history that really produced her. Maybe she will only seem like American kitsch, a cardboard cutout, not really real, totally one dimensional. You will be projecting on to her what you already think or are not interested in thinking about the Idea about Margaret Mitchell.
Do these Ideas, these Spirits that we reincarnate actually read in ways that are two or three dimensions when who these human beings and their lives ARE, what they believe and what they are actually ABOUT barely gets addressed in the dialogues and scenarios we enact?
After one of the last shows in Scotland a man, whose face I recognized from the audience, (sometimes I just feel like I have been seeing someone and speaking right to them even if I really sort of, well, haven’t), came up to me as I was heaping up a load of costumes to take to the back and he was waiting because someone else was chatting away. Maybe someone chatted to me and then, one other person. And then this man came up, after waiting an inordinate amount of minutes for being one among a crowded theatre of people being aggressively directed to the exit, and he said, “Thank you for doing a play about big themes.”
I just loved him.
Because it’s not really about us. Or Margaret. Or Carrie. Or whomever. These are just flags. These are just pointers. These are just vessels that are carrying America. And America is a windstorm. America is a flight pattern. America is a flood. And America can be just an Idea made incarnate by the acts of kindness or cowardice displayed by its people. Granted its an Idea over which people kill eachother . . . I mean just in the most expansive and profound poetical pseudo-dictionary definition.
The thought I’ve just arrived at.
On a very good day, I think I would really want to want to be an American.
[To be continued]