Please, Gordon, a few tabs of the old Rumanian aspirin !

Interesting how many viewers are cradling their chins in their hands as the “boxcar outside of Venice w/ courtesan as prostitute” scene unfolds.

Then–another interruption—!–Is this Don Giovanni? Someone knocks, loudly: “Is this the Jazz Performance?” a woman’s voice asks. But it does not interrupt the scene—

As CW holds the audience in the palm of her hand…From up here, I have to wonder, why is the audience looking on so raptly at the jazzed up and simplified version of the courtesan scene? Why does it only count as political theater when the politics are spoon fed to us, writ large?

The young serious man says it felt “too close” theatrically–unengaged. He was unengaged.  Even though it spoke to him. DL introduces the topic of “Ruined.” What changes when you make the move of updating the scenography?

YM–We can see HOW they have updated it?

DL–Does that bring it closer to us?

JW–DAVID, (again, this audience member is fascinating in that he feels permitted to speak his mind, to use names, he seems perfectly at ease and perfectly invited to own as much of the discourse as he likes. He uses a sonorous tone when he speaks; he sounds as if he is acting. But he is not one of the actors–I know this, as a serial viewer; does anyone else? What permits himto break the frame? Why aren’t the others following his lead?) the adaptation was GAMED a bit by the transparent use of specific information. Becomes snag and smug-it feels like it is jabbing us with a point. Couldn’t things be drawn in subtley, a relationship that said something powerful and political.

BlackCladMan: Concurs that it feels didactic. Density of first scene, vs. cheap politics of 2nd scene, easy laugh.

YM: too polarizing.

Silence….

Clearly, silence is intolerable here…DL nudges forward another question, revives dying pulse.

but YM: understands that the specificity if SW’s version is more useful somehow.

CW, J, enter in, steering us towards their views of the scene.

DL: Does sympathy matter?

Pert young woman answers–yes.

(Is it sympathy or empathy that matters? Isn’t it sympathy that’s cheap?)

JK weighs in, about the evocative vs. the heavy handed. Brecht, Brecht, Brecht. BCM. YM. Blue shirted woman.

Ah, the first  school girl has spoken! She feels more sympathy for the prostitute! Courtesan sounds like more fun, gives her  a “more nice feeling”–so she feels less sympathy, less sympathy. The sympathy she feels gets in the way in the second scene, she says; the first version of the courtesan scene, in which she does not pity the courtesan who can enjoy some of the pleasures of life, wealth, shelter, etc, is the one she prefers. It seems as if she is coming to the conclusion that the presence of sympathy, or of too much emotion and identification, stymies her ability to react as one should to Political Theater.

(How should one…? We do not know).

Hallelujah! The girls are speaking up about the girls.

YM intervenes, after DL rephrases the question.  And CW also becomes an authority–Shakespearey style. Again, noticing how the actors are more and more interested in acting as audience.

***

Note: Later, what I am noticing here is the tyranny of content. The discussion chases its tale over and over again about the literal questions DL asks, or that the material seems to be prompting us to ask. I am tired of these questions, I’m aware; I have heard them too many times. But for this Evening to work, the DL must be endlessly patient, as if he is discovering along with them. He can’t push too hard–out of frustration and boredom, I would, I would quickly jettison all this talk of content to the meta level, to the level of problematizing the entire forum, the presence of the director. How do you prompt people to think on the meta level, to begin to deconstruct the questions before them, the questions that seem obligatory to answer–to let them know that even as audience members at a theater, they have choices?

It may take an entire semester, or years of a corrupt regime, or the Second Coming before everyone catches on to the truths and lies of how much permission, how much power, how much agency they have in any given situation–as artists, as writers, as consumers, as citizens. But in the meantime, the process towards this realization is tedious, flawed, slow, easily blindsided, repetitive, chases its tail. Were there not a patient DL-type, willing to tolerate all of our twisted process, what would happen? We would not be aware there was a process going on at all, perhaps.We would chase our tails for centuries, and only get glimpses once in a while that there was Another Way, Something Else. And I am sitting up here in the Bell Tower, and I see it, but they don’t–but they can’t hear me. And if I save them, they will continue on, blissfully, ignorantly happy…Damn! Even in trying to deconstruct the form, you cannot get a way from the metaphorical cues the content offers you. It’s diabolical, as if my sense-making of the larger issues here, the conceptual ones, have been pre-determined by the content, the cheezy stories and words Weil has put into my head first. I unwittingly return to her language, even when I am arguing that her language, and the solidity of the story she has put before us, is the very obstacle to discussing all that is most important here. I am lead from concept to content like an obedient school girl.

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