Back from/to the Street

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 …


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