Sunday, January 08, 2012

Defense Mechanisms, Part Two

Or, "Hog-tying Despair with the Daisy-Chains of Radical, Starry-Eyed Idealism"

(Or, "Can You Tell That Alex Really Likes Posting Emma Goldman's Face?")

Today's Facts: I don't always like everything I see in the theater. I find myself getting cranky -- about the "bad" work that gets celebrated; about the "good" work that doesn't; about how no one "gets it"; about the muddle I find myself in over how to communicate to the rest of the world, once and for all, my correct opinions on art, truth, life, and everything.

Today's Reasons to Despair: Some "bad" work will always be celebrated. Some "good" work will always be ignored. I'll never actually have correct -- let alone coherent -- opinions on art, truth, life, and everything.


Today's Act of Radical, Starry-Eyed Idealism (ARSEI): Theater is a bunch of people sweating in a room together. No matter the theater, no matter the people, there's inevitably a lot of heart, a lot of wisdom in that room. Be a craftsperson, sure, and know your craft -- and make the best damn plays you know how to make -- but when it comes down to that moment when the magic is happening, clumsy or exquisite, don't forget to be a person in the room. We don't get anywhere, as people or as artists, if we're nothing but cranks.

Source of today's ARSEI:

We may agree on the premise that each work of art is at least in part perfect, while each critic is at least in part imperfect. We may then look to each work of art not for its faults and shortcomings, but for its moments of exhilaration, in an effort to bring our own imperfections into sympathetic vibration with these moments, and thus effect a creative change in ourselves. These moments will of course be somewhat subjective, and if we don’t see one immediately, we will out of respect look again, because each work contains at least one, even if by accident. We may look at the totality of the work in the light of this moment – whether it be a moment of humor or sadness, an overarching structural element, a mood, a personal association, a distraction, an honest error, anything that speaks to us.

(Matthew Goulish, the guy on the right)

BONUS BOOST THIS WEEK: Another balm for this week's Reasons to Despair is to go see the Unfiltered plays at EST. All of 'em. It'll be very easy to avoid feeling cranky about the future of American theater. Trust me.

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