Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Play's The Thing

Last night I saw Becky's New Car at Portland Artist Reprotory Theater. The show began with a state ment, "When a woman says she wants new shoes it means she wants a new job. When she says she wants a new house it means she wants a new husband. And when a woman says she wants a new car it means she wants a new life." Then two hours of hillarity followed in which Becky went on to tear appart her current life and eventually drive away in a new car. The play wasn't overly thought provoking or insightful, but is was very funny, and I throwly enjoyed it.

The play was written so that the actors were always cognisant of the audience. At times various cast members would ask audience members questions. At one point when Becky was feeling over worked, she handed me a stack of papers and asked me to do some colating for her. In this play the audience interactions all added to the humor of the show. It also lead me to think about the human connection involved in theater that isn't present in other story telling mediums.

Occationally Broadway shows such as "Spamalot" and "Pippin" will turn to the audience and invite people to join in a sing-a-long. When listening to the Original Broadway Cast CD, or watching a DVD taping of a live show, these sceens seem really stupid. But when sitting in the audience, these group interaction activities are always really fun. And I think that is the point. Theater isn't meant to be experience on a CD or a DVD, it is meant to be seen live, and there should be a relationship between the cast and audience even when there isn't a sing-a-long or some impromptu colating.

When I was five, my parents took me to the Oregon Shakesphere Festivial in Ashland. They were a little bit nervious about setting their rambunction children loose in an Elizabethen theater. But the lady at the box office told them, "Just put your kids in the front row and they will see a show that they will never forget." So I got a front row seat to watch Twelth Night, and you know what, the lady at the box office was right. Twentyfive years later, I still remember that night. The language was arcaic and the costumes were strainge. For a lot of the show, I was very confused. But then at one point about half way through the play, two of the actors got in a fight and one through a bucket of water at the other, and I got wet. I was right there in the front row, and I got wet. The story was so alive that I felt the water, and I will never forget that feeling.

I love to read (or listen). I like watching movies. And I'm farely addicted to television. But out of all the story telling mediums, theater will always hold a special place in my heart. Because I've never gotten wet reading a book (unless I was outside and it started to rain). And I've never been asked to colate while watching a movie. And there is something truly magical about being touched by a story as it unfolds.

Joke of the Day
Sid Ceasar, holding up repaired pants:

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