Saturday, March 12, 2011

This is Theatre (?) (!)

This week I had two amazing and unique theatrical experiences that represent the excitement happening on the squishy edges of the definition of theatre. I was glad to be able to snag a single ticket to see the consternating Rude Mechanicals performance of The Method Gun on a limited engagement tour in New York City at Dance Theatre Workshop. While to my mind this fell squarely in the "theatre" category, I sat there amazed as the ensemble dissected performance, the study of acting, the nature of mentors and gurus, and the twin dragons of Risk and Doubt. The show was a stunning meditation on the true danger of the stage, the power of art, and the debt we owe to those who went before. Plus, it had a tiger, and it left the whole audience gape-mouthed and weak-kneed.

And then I got some Greeks.

The very next day I got an email saying that a coveted seat had opened up for the super-select production by Exit, Pursued by a Bear, a hotbed of creative passion and talent. (If they keep calling it a lab, I think they run the risk of being regulated like a pharmaceutical company for the exploratory incubation they are doing.) They were presenting the 7-play Sophocles cycle in an expertly succinct adaptation by Sean Graney, and in order to be able to digest the stunning scope of the work (a neatly-packaged five hours) we were treated as guests, hosted with the utmost hospitality by the gracious Artistic Director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, and courted with dinner, dessert, conversation, and libation throughout the evening. In a deliberate attempt to de-formalize the theatre event, they welcomed us into their artistic home, and we all ate and drank story, and contemplated the themes of life and death and honor in the only way we can: by acknowledging our own physical and social needs, in communion with the needs of others around us.