NaPlWriMo 2011 Rhino Burst #2: Discovering Theatre
What do I want to see more of in the theatre? What are my hopes for the theatre? Why, I can just begin to see it: there's Theatre now, asleep in the bassinet.
Theatre is just a newborn, a perfect little blob of fresh, drooling consciousness, demanding, not knowing the rules, unruly, full of needs and wonder, hungry hourly. Time passes; Theatre’s growing fast now, walking, tripping, running, crumbs, sounds, a towel tied to its shoulders like a cape.
It's Autumn now, Theatre walks to school with its sharpened pencils, glue, its box of crayons; it's eager hand, always the first raised in class, a physical question mark, perpetual curiosity.
Theatre's at its first middle school slumber party, pointing us out in front of our peers, asking: Truth? Or Dare? It's high school; Theatre's a little insecure, comparing itself with that pretty young freshman Television, wishing it was rich, popular, could travel more, like Film.
Theatre's walking from the dorms, excited to vote in the election, up late nights, engaging in philosophical debates, artistic one-night stands. Theatre's starting its career, eating ramen, circling Help Wanted ads in red pencil, wondering: What does the world want? What does it need? It's hustling to get the job done, working on its portfolio, its presentation skills, connecting with people, forever wrestling with the question of how to pitch a better world to the World.
Theatre's in the middle of its life, it's in its prime here, getting to the heart of the matter, doing its life's work. It's taking Shame and Repression out of those boxes up in the attic and decorating the Christmas tree with them. Theatre's in a crisp white lab coat, leaning over a microscope, examining the thin, quartz slides, seeing if the Ideas have sprouted. Theatre has now apprehended Truth, taken it into custody, where it sits in the stainless steel interrogation room under a solitary, swinging bulb. Theatre is looking up at the night sky through a telescope, mapping new constellations, thinking: future, then, us, you, time, stars, air, breath, earth, myth— how does it all connect? Theatre has taken the culprits who caused the crisis and run them out of town on a rail. Theatre's packing up bags of Voice, Language, and Story and delivering them to Goodwill.
But Theatre isn't all work and no play — at a cocktail party, Theatre can actually be sparkling, entertaining, charming — and a damn snappy dresser. This can also be when Theatre's at its most dangerous, as it's not fully aware of what it's saying. So we have to keep an eye on it, make sure it gets home safe. Other times, Theatre talks too much, it becomes tedious, then it throws up on our shoes and we wonder why we ever invited it to the party. But, despite its failings, if you'll remember, it was Theatre that nursed you back to health during the long winter.
Where is Theatre now? Ah, yes: Theatre's that pregnant thing in the cab, bags packed, racing to the hospital. Theatre is standing out on the field, whistle-blowing, soccer-coaching, calling foul. Even in retirement, Theatre stays busy. In the mornings, Theatre is bespectacled, cardiganed, leaning over the card-catalogue, organizing the minutia of Existence. In the afternoons, Theatre dumps the card catalogues out of a second-story window. Theatre is sometimes incoherent, confusing, pouring the orange juice on the breakfast cereal, teaching us patience, absurdity, sending us birthday cards, reminding us of our own mortality. And that brings us up to the present, folks. What’s next for Theatre remains to be seen.
Shelley Carter is an "emerging" theatremaker/director/dramaturg, who splits her time between New York City and San Francisco. In the summer of 2011, she produced the Vintage Play Festival in San Francisco and is currently working on producing chekhov21, a reading series occurring across three states. Despite her penchant for the playwrights of yore, she is also an avid play reader and supporter of the #newplay revolution. Her bicoastal adventures can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/shelley486 or on Tumblr at shelley2011.tumblr.com.
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