Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's the point?

I remember the first time I went to see a play and after sitting through the whole thing feeling very unfulfilled. I was a student at Interlochen Arts Camp and that year the faculty show was Dancing at Lughnasa.

The production was absolutely mesmerizing. All of the performances were excellent. The man playing Michael Evans wove the narration like a fine silk scarf. All of the sisters were heartbreaking and wonderful. There wasn't a single performance that could be thought of as lacking - indeed, looking back, it was one of the most solid performances by a whole cast that I have ever seen. After three hours, however, of nothing happening I began wondering "what's the point?" I remember thinking that it must have been my own fault for not getting the play, but when I got back to my cabin and I heard my best friend railing against the performance for the same reason, I felt reassured about my instincts.

I had never been to a play that seemed to not resolve anything and just drift through time with the characters not willing to do anything about their situation. The experience was very confusing for me; aren't you supposed to come away from theatre with something? I had also never seen an Irish Drama, let along a play by Brian Friel.

As much as I do take an antagonistic view of this play and still wish I had those three hours of my life back, the overwhelming thing that I do take with me was the excellent performances of my teachers. Actually, none of them were my teachers at the time (they would be in future years) so I wasn't there "rooting" for any one of them. They were, however, so excellent and I remember being really proud to know that I was learning from them. It's a great show to feature actors in good acting roles. However, it still goes to show that every element must be in collaboration to produce a truly compelling and moving theatre experience. The artists there in the space can only do so much.

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