Getting it, now.
“We need a space to build an airplane.”
“For the set. For the set of Wickets.”
For the set of a play called Wickets they were going to build an airplane. For the set of a play called Wickets, which was really an adaptation (a bold, prescient, reimagining!) of Maria Irene Fornes‘ Fefu and Her Friends (you checked it out of the library one time, dismayed after someone else had checked out Sontag’s ENTIRE ouvre), they were going to build an airplane.
That was the summer. I really had no idea. I get it now.
(fall into the Gap – more below)
On Sunday, January 28, 2007, I spent most of the day in my pj’s finishing up a graduate school application, listening to to NPR, and generally wallowing in all my indie splendor.
At 8 PM I set off for HERE with my friend Donald in tow. We had the extreme pleasure of seeing Clove Galilee and Jenny Rogers’ (AKA Trick Saddle) production of Wickets.
The performances were provocative, highly individualized and specific, and some of the best acting I have seen in too long a time. The set was really an airplane! – complete with rounded-corner rectangle windows that looked out onto a floor-to-ceiling video display that gave such a sense of being in flight that I, a Xanax-swallowing aviophobe, became a nervous during a moment of faux turbulence. The adapted text succeeded in doing what I always hope an adaptation of an historic will do: it brought relevancy to a play for a very specific contemporary audience, remaining true to the author’s vision while allowing the current creative team the freedom to make it their own.
Bear in mind that this production of Wickets was technically a work-in-progress. However, there was nothing about this production that did not boast of thoughtfulness, of a fully realized aesthetic, and if I appear to be gushing – I am! I feel like it is all too rare that I am privy to a show like this. To be clear, I have seen others, but why must I wrack my brain to make a list of them? Why do we cut corners? Why are we so complacent to do 90% of the job and call it finished? Yes, I realize that the significant lack of funding and space is a terrible obstacle, and it’s not our fault, but it is our responsibility to overcome it, and some artists, the ladies of Trick Saddle included, do so with triumph. And you don’t need high-tech design or expensive props, because those inanimate pieces of set dressing do not engage us, have no emotional relevancy to us. I think the real answer is that we are afraid – afraid to pursue forthright into the deep of our aesthetic vision. We flaunt our apathy like fashion – it’s cool not to care, it’s perfectly fine not to do what is scary or challenging because it IS scary and challenging. But then you see a show like Wickets (or The Sewers, or The Pillowman, or Death and the Plowman, or whatever you feel is deserving of the type of praise I have just bestowed), and you are reminded of what theater can be: a full sensory experience, that you, dear audience member, are just as complicit in as anyone else, that incites real emotion as opposed to simply indicating the possibility of feeling a specific emotion IF they weren’t ACTING, IF the airplane was REAL. This is the reason we make theater – to create a new reality within our own. It is satisfying to make, and it is satisfying to watch. And, it goes beyond a discussion of taste because perhaps you disliked Wickets, disagreed with the choices, but you can’t say it was incomplete, and you can’t say the creators did not believe completely in the reality of their creation, and I hope you will join me in my demand that all theater achieve this wholeness, this success, because IT CAN.