This week has been hard. I am grateful that I have been able to volunteer this week and see six Fringe shows. I saw: The Most Massive Woman Wins, Thrower of Light, Spermalot, Needs/Wants/Desires, Danny is Going to Die, and Bard Fiction.
Between these shows, my father-in-law passed away. This has been very stressful on all of us. Some people react with simply crying, some drink, some grow angry and hurtful. Me? I go see plays, get lost in the plays, calm down completely and think about writing plays in the future. Plays are my gin and tonic. Plays are my beer, my meth, my crack cocaine. My cigarettes. I don’t need any mind-altering drugs – I see a play. Even a crappy play – doesn’t matter. Plays let me out of my life.
Dance, too. Thrower of Light is dance. I don’t have a dance vocabulary, but I can say that I loved it. I felt that there was something communicated. I had emotional reactions to what I saw. There seemed to be a story that carried through the first four or five pieces, the story of love triangles and jealousy, I think. Then the choreographer came out and said some things, after which there were 2 more pieces of a completely different timbre. They were joyful and fun rather than dark and mysterious.
During the first part of the dance, I was wondering to myself how people are able to plan and execute such intricate and beautiful dance. I literally thought to myself, “why are they doing that?” I am befuddled by dance. I don’t understand how it works – yet it’s so moving and it feels profound.
I had an interesting conversation with an author of one of the other shows, and he was saying that Minnesotan’s go gaga over dance, but we hardly seem to acknowledge excellent acting when we see it. I hear what he is saying – the energy in the applause for the dance was not the same energy in the applause for the plays I saw, but maybe that is because dance itself is so energizing.
I think I like plays more than dance because a play rarely leaves me wondering why they are doing what they are doing. In Bard Fiction, it was clear that they were doing a Shakespearian send up of Pulp Fiction. That’s all I need to know. It doesn’t leave questions in my mind wondering what they are up to or what they are trying to say. It was just good fun, I recognized some lines from Shakespeare and some from Pulp Fiction. Thoroughly enjoyable, cute at times, funny and well acted. I’m glad I got a chance to see it.
So I mentioned crappy plays above – I didn’t think any of these plays I saw were crappy. But some were more polished than others. I think The Most Massive Woman Wins was probably the most polished. But it was also an already-published work, so I think that puts a layer of polish that would be very hard to attain with the premier of a new work. Nothing stood out as bad. I do wonder, though, about trying to put together short pieces in order to fill up an hour, like with Needs/Wants/Desires I think I’d rather see a cohesive half-hour. Or maybe some sort of transition to make shorter pieces flow together – this is something I have wrestled with in the past, so I certainly don’t fault them for trying. I just thought the final piece, which was the longest, was definitely the strongest.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I thank all theatre people everywhere for doing what they do. You might feel that your show is a simple way to pass the time, maybe it’s a frivolous comedy. But you never know who might be sitting in your audience and what your efforts might mean to them – I know that for this week, theater and the Fringe Festival saved me and helped me to remember what being human is about – connecting with other humans.