Intermission is over, the tables re-filled, the beverage-on-table figures entirely skewed. We launch directly into a new documentary scene, were Violetta is transformed into a bond trader … a scene that ends with laughter.
L: is she sympathetic? she knows everything …
Man 5: she is – she didn’t work for Goldman Sachs …
Woman 6: does it matter if she’s sympathetic? We ignore sympathy all the time, don’t we? Also, if we provoke the wrong thing in a person – if we make a person angry, when they don’t know what action to take, what have we done?
L: does this raise the same question that Simone Weil raises – how do you know what to do with your body, with your time?
Woman 1: but she’s not an equivalent victim – she’s middle management, she’s also culpable.
Man 4: Yeah, for all her trouble, I think she’s all right – she wasn’t raped. It’s nowhere near as harsh.
Man 6: but you have to think beyond her – the whole system was raped – in many ways it’s much worse than 9/11. she’s just a symbol, but all of us have been effected, raped by this system –
W1: I think that’s a loose definition of rape …
W7: would someone like a victim of Madoff be a better voice, a more equivalent voice?
L: but let’s say as a common basis, “political theatre should somehow make us more humane, possibly through the mechanism of sympathy” – story of Liddy testifying, death threats to AIG, etc. The thing is, everyone knows who the victims are, would not “the wall street” project greater humanize these other figures?
Man 1: why are we focusing on the individuals? aren’t they somehow interchangeable? why isn’t theatre able to focus on the system, beyond individual blame? Maybe Brecht was right about this – why not show systemic issues – reverse the terms, making the most obejctionable person speak for good, and vice versa, to expose the system.
W6: but who’s the audience? doesn’t that change everything? isn’t knowing your audience vital in terms of thinking about theatre? The merchant of venice as a popular play in both israel and nazi germany.
W1: and staging matters hugely – we’re only addressing text, there are all kinds of other aspects of theatre – movement, music, staging, etc. that have huge import in determining our experience.
L: okay, but the effects of these things are constrained by something else that is systemic …