Lacking Some Ability for Intake

I saw (with plenty of the authors of this blog) Mabou Mines’ Dollhouse on Saturday and it’s making me think. About theatre. DAMN IT!

I’m subtly angry about this fact. I don’t really care whether I enjoyed this production or not (and I can’t really decide what my overall experience was) but god damn it I don’t want to think about my views on theatre while I watch theatre! Ok, maybe not subtly angry.

My experience of the show was varied. There were things I understood but mostly I didn’t and those pieces I’m still chewing on. This is great and it’s because of the overall meta-theatricality of the show, but most of those pieces have to do with theatre and not with any kind of inner/societal activation I’m feeling. After the production I didn’t say much, but instead I wanted to hear what other people thought to help me process my own. The conversation turned towards the narrative and the choices that were made in that sense, which surprised me, because it wasn’t at all where I was at the moment. In fact I realized I hardly cared about the story or the characters in the journey of this show. Now, if this is a choice, I don’t mind it, but the production so overtly advertises itself as a show about the societal conflict between men and women and I wasn’t activated in any strong way regarding that issue. So, around the end of the evening, the only question I asked was if people felt sympathetic towards Nora. Most said yes. When I said that I didn’t and in fact that I didn’t put, I forget my exact wording but Ilana remembers I’m sure, any blame on the men either there were audible gasps. What is bothering me after this production is why I wasn’t moved in that way. I feel as if I must be lacking some ability for intake for me to have completely missed the empathetic relationship that my comrades seemed to have had.

Where do I find fault, or can I find fault or should I find fault in my relationship with this production? I know it is possible for me to have an empathetic relationship with a lead character, and to be completely immersed in story, because it’s happened. Though it happens rarely. What I want to know though is if this has to do with how I enter the theatre, or with the theatre that I’m presented with. My goal is to be on this journey. I WANT to be moved by theatre, but so often I find that I’m not, and instead of discussing the issues in the piece, I’m discussing the issues of the piece. This blog post basically.

It’s a weird line for me to walk. Sometimes I feel like a new generation of theatre maker because I’m so often displeased, or more accurately, unfulfilled, with the theatre that I see, and sometimes I feel like I must be the biggest asshole in the world.


kmjiang posted on November 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Eh. I know what you mean; I’m a bad theatregoer, too, in that sense; I don’t get involved properly most of the time anymore.

The gender thing is…not…even…related. >>

But in terms of the question of this post, yeah, for better or worse: It is you. Not always, but if this is the experience you feel like you’re having overall, when other people seem to be moved, it is most likely related to how you approach stuff. Not necessarily a bad thing – different strokes, etc., etc., but something to consider and, if you want, experiment with breaking out of.


kmjiang posted on November 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm

P.S.! Though, FTR, I don’t believe that it’s a “fault” thing. =PPPPP

ccleary7 posted on November 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Were you always like this or did it start after coming here? If it started here, I think we might be at a point in our training where the work is all we can see. I’ve definitely experienced a shift in how I see every type of performance (movie, theatre, etc.) because I often am blinded by dissecting the WORK that’s going on, rather than being able to take in the whole. Maybe it’s because the work of acting/making theatre is what we do all day, or maybe it’s because my eyes are getting more critical as I gain knowledge on the subject, I don’t know. I don’t know if it helps, but I do know what you mean in a way, and I don’t think it makes you an asshole.

sbmeyers posted on November 8, 2011 at 12:53 am

My question is…what isn’t working for you, why and how would you have done it differently? Furthermore, for what purpose would you have done things differently?

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