Why My Theatre Posts Are Rarely Short
This past weekend I had the opportunity to see a small, plucky local theatre company put up a lovely piece of work when I went to see Hourglass Theatre’s production of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe. The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2017, and is being produced around the country quite frequently, due, I imagine, to its striking and effective portrayals of adolescent women and their relationships with one another.
Director Savannah Barrera assembled a group of nine young women to portray the Wolves (an indoor soccer team) that, despite being made up of faces most would recognize from local theatre, had never shared a stage together, which is perhaps the greatest accomplishment of this production. Brazos Valley theatre has long been the home for so many talented and skilled women as performers, directors, and designers, to have so many share the stage as named (or in this case, numbered) characters is always exciting.
The story clearly resonated with each of the performers as well, allowing them to deliver solid performances with only a few hiccups. The emotional truth of the story added to the compelling performances alongside of a stripped-down, minimalist location and scenic design (something of hallmark of Hourglass productions). Much like the eponymous Wolves, the team worked well together, incorporating everyone, regardless of experience. The blocking and staging was simple, a bit too much for me, but the text (pulitzer finalist, remember) was allowed to shine through regardless.
The show’s over though…there’s no chance of you seeing it if you missed it. So why write about it? More importantly, why not just say “they did a great job!” and leave it at that?
Because to me, storytelling, and especially Theatre, is sacred. I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s religious or related to God, but instead that it is sacrosanct, that it is too important to lose. Theatre allows us to pause and pay close attention to something we often take for granted: relationships. And while cinema might allow something similar, there is a power to literally breathing the same air as the characters we are observing, of inhabiting the same space. It’s like the difference between listening to your favorite band’s album and seeing them live. Both are valuable, but there is something so much more visceral and human about being there in person.
The things we hold sacred are always the things we pay most attention to, and the same is true in reverse: that which we pay the most attention to is what we hold most sacred. My husband is sacred to me. My family and friends are sacred to me (though sometimes my behavior might lead them to believe otherwise). Star Wars is still sacred to me, though less so than in my youth, as is Harry Potter. Holding something sacred doesn’t mean that we can’t question it or hold it to a standard (hello JK Rowling’s Twitter); if anything it means that we question it more and hold it to a higher standard.
This, then, may help explain my verbosity on the subject of theatre. Next to my human relationships, theatre is perhaps the most sacred thing in my life. It’s one of the primary ways I experience the Divine, it gives me energy and hope, it is something I feel inexorably drawn to, and I desperately want others to see the beauty in this art form that I do.
Will people who don’t already at least have an affinity for theatre take the time to read longer posts like these? Perhaps, perhaps not. I’m not inexperienced when it comes to marketing to theatrical muggles (those for whom theatre is seen as old, boring, or not the least bit engaging), but I don’t write posts like these for them. These are the posts for those who know that magic exists and that they have the potential to be a part of it, whether as an audience member, donor, performer, or crew member.
I used to write about shows primarily to encourage those in my community to go see them, but moving forward my goal is to write more broadly, even about shows that have ended. If nothing else, perhaps it will encourage others to go see another show by the same director, the same author, or the same cast member(s).
And as for whether it’s arrogant to assume that my opinion matters? Frankly, that’s not for me to decide. The best that I can do is continue to practice my sacred observance of theatre, which means giving it the attention it deserves in my viewing, my patronage, and most importantly, my conversation. I’m honored if you think that my opinions hold weight, and welcome disagreements and conversation in response. If you think that I should just keep my mouth shut…you’re welcome to ignore these posts, that’s the beauty of asynchronous mass communication. ;-)
In that vein, below is a link to my thoughts on three productions that happened earlier this season the either a) I never posted, because they never got finished the show was over or b) I felt were incomplete and wanted to adjust. After all, we hold sacred that which we give the most attention to.