Due 11/29 by 7am CST
Let’s calm this shit down. :)
In my undergrad I took a class on post-Yugoslavia drama. The class was taught by a Serbian dramaturg and in the class was a Bosnian refugee who’d had family members killed by the civil war/genocide that’d happened there. The Serbian dramaturg had left long before the war, and was very very soft and nice and tiny and gay. Picture the opposite of whatever energy is needed to kill someone else through violence. Still, they had flair-ups. It’s understandable.
America is so far from post-Yugoslavia. If you say “war” here it means something somewhere else. It doesn’t mean the thing that killed my uncle and is why dad has a limp.
There were two types of drama that stuck out at me from this class which seemed uniquely “war-torn”. One was a dark sensibility where death became a pragmatic solution to the problem of life. Life (especially one’s own) had little value. Sell your body for sex to get a small discount on groceries. Kill your neighbor’s cat because you’re allergic. Blame others for the subjugation they find themselves in. Die needlessly for a cause that you don’t believe in.
Then there was another kind. It was calm and soothing. It HAD theatrical energy- things still surprised and united the audience- but it did so in a way that was unbelievably light and beautiful and uncontroversial. Think of the Blue Man Group, but with the energy and tenderness of a mother putting her child to bed. Now, this was still about something. There was a central issue or crime that had happened- that was safely in the past, but still present. Like workers cleaning the blood from the wall where a mass execution had happened, or gardeners planting flowers around a fresh grave. Or a family preparing a meal without the deceased mother.
CHALLENGE: WRITE A PLAY THAT HEALS THE AUDIENCE
Use: a simple plot with a physical objective that has an obvious resolution- cleaning, cooking, etc
Involve: some real pain from the past
Use: magic- remember the flashbacks? Do that again, but don’t flashback. Let the magic LIVE in the moment- perhaps unseen by the characters.
Use: Your own life. Don’t try to heal something you don’t understand.
Caution: It’s valuable therapy but hard to do this on an issue you haven’t yet healed from yourself.
Side story: One of Red Theater’s early plays involved “nap time” as it was for students during “hell week” before finals and we turned down the lights, lit a slow disco ball, and played soft music. The actors all laid down on the stage and wished each other “good night.” It was beautiful, unexpected, and accidentally very powerful for these lonely strung-out students. If I was writing it now, I’d add some gentle voice assuring the students that they have what it takes. They will get it all done. It’ll be okay. While featuring on stage a desk with papers and books and a phone “blowing up” with notifications… then calming.