Thursday, August 9, 2007

Review- Who I was Yesterday

TRACY: Well, we’re recording so scooch on in. We just saw…

REX: Who I was Yesterday.

T: Who I was Yesterday, Modern Urban Fairytale with Puppets. I thought it was beautiful.

R: Yes.

T: Initial impressions of the show…

R: It was not as much as it could have been.

T: I thought, things that I would like different could be… um… like the passage of time, day to night, and the next day, y’know there was a time frame that was like really unclear when one day ended and –

R: It was awkward. It wasn’t just unclear, but awkward.

T: yeah, and they had the moon and everything and they coulda used it to show passage of time or in the dialog or something. And I also thought, having the mom on stage the whole time, that was kinda weird what’d you think about that?

R: yeah, her… she was the most disappointing of the- of the puppets. Like uh…

T: it woulda been nice to not see her?

R: Or- I don’t know, I really like the fact that she was screaming off stage and like- it built up seeing her, but then when you actually saw her it really, it didn’t live up to the expectation.

T: I think it, well, I didn’t know it was gonna be her. When she came out it was- like it was something weird.

R: Like it might’ve been something weird like the bedbugs.

T: I didn’t know that, what it was. So, her introduction and then I thought, her being on stage for the rest of the play, kind of like, took away from her- you know, I wasn’t scared of her, at all.

R: It would’ve worked if she wasn’t a puppet. You know it woulda been like, she’s frozen, they woulda been able to do something, but, with everything else on stage, like the puppeteers and everything that you’re supposed to block out and ignore and pretend it isn’t there, then it was like you were supposed to block out and ignore her, but it wasn’t it was supposed to be there as a threat, but she’s trapped. I-

T: Yeah.

R: I really wish she woulda been much more organic looking.

T: I don’t know if I agree with that, but…

R: I woulda liked to have seen her mouth move. Jaws.

T: And it kinda worked that she wasn’t very- I mean, in the end it turns out she’s not something to be scared of, y’know the whole, pain and death isn’t a bad thing.

R: Well, that’s what the grandparents said but I think-

T: And then it’s really scary.

R: I think-

T: But I’m just saying, that like, but- I don’t know I guess, that gave it away too early. The fact that she wasn’t threatening…

R: yeah. No yeah, she needed to be threatening and then, yeah. The, the sound design-

T: I like-

R: was the worst thing about the show.

T: What? Whaaat?

R: the fact that you couldn’t tell the difference between her voice and the urban spirits voice, in certain lines, I HATED.

T: In certain lines, yeah.

R: the fact that- uh…

T: Hated, strong word.

R: it pissed me off.

T: I thought the use of all elements was uh, pretty awesome.

R: I do like the idea of the using all the elements, but I don’t think, I think the sound design was like-

T: Puppets were amazing.

R: Puppets were amazing.

T: really, I think my favorite puppets were the bed bugs.

R: Yeah?

T: They were fucking sweet. But I also really liked the twins. I liked that it was just the one guy playing both.

R: Yeah, yeah. The ummm… the guy playing the marionette was terrible.

T: No, I loved him. I loved him.

R: I don’t know, it- you know it… kind of uh, Brechtian acting kind of thing.

T: Another one of these conversations, eh? What the hell do you mean by Brechtian acting sort of thing?

R: Where you- okay, so Brecht says that people shouldn’t act. That uh, that when actors are on stage it shouldn’t be like they are being the things they’re acting, they should be like they are telling a story and they’re always aware of the things they’re acting. The example Brecht would use is like the witnesses to a crime, will say yeah, he said this like this and was walking like this but their attitude toward it is not- i am the man that was run over by a car.

T: So I don’t understand what your point is.

R: I saw that happening in this they’re using-

T: Are you talking about the marionette?

R: The marionette especially.

T: The marionette acted like he was- what?

R: the marionette there was no fourth wall. There was no suspension of disbelief.

[R inserted this after the fact: what I shoulda said here, is “my belief was not suspended”]

T: what are you talking about? He was a marionette, that’s a suspension of disbelief.

R: No no, the fact that he was a marionette. The audience never looked at it the audience never got absorbed in the play.

T: I did.

R: you’re not supposed to, I don’t think.

T: I think you’re totally supposed to I think it’s the whole like fairy world that you’re supposed to like, get involved in and be like, taken along on this crazy adventures, it’s very child like and-

R: but I think there-

T: you totally do.

R: the audience is very alienated from the play. I think-

T: You were very alienated from the play.

R: I think the audience-

T: Can I get a third person opinion? [turns to our companion, Tim] Did you ever get like absorbed in the play?

TIM: There were certainly moments, and those were the ones I appreciated the most, when I actually was able to- watching him play both twins was great, um… when he sat there and had the dialog between the two, that was one of the moments that I was really drawn in by, and I enjoyed that. I did not like the marionette, but only because I don’t think I liked the guy who was- the way he was speaking.

R: yeah, the way he was speaking-

TIM: The way he was speaking was, I don’t think, the way that character shoulda been speaking. He wasn’t newscaster enough.

R: Right, yeah.

TIM: and then the grandmother I didn’t like.

T: Oh, her. She didn’t have-

TIM: the grandfather was so-so

T: Yeah, you know I would like- okay, my defense of the marionette. It’s not even about acting. It’s more about, that his voice filled the space perfectly. You could hear him and Andy so clearly, I thought.

TIM: if he sounded like he was talking like this I think that woulda been

T: wait wait- you didn’t like his voice? I don’t- compared to like, the grandparents who were hard to hear-

R: yeah.

T: in the space.

R: that’s true.

TIM: the voices were all pretty important, when it came to, I don’t know I thought the voices of the urban spirits were pretty awesome.

R: Sounded like a cheap sci-fi effect to me.

TIM: and they had a menace to them and uh-

R: it sounded very very plastic. All the sound effects sounded very plastic to me.

TIM: I think there needs to be more distinction, and those were very distinct, so I appreciated that.

T: that technology, of the voices went right along with the projector-

TIM: Or the- the urban spirits.

T: that too.

TIM: I thought so, I thought that was pretty great, but for everybody else-

R: I just, I guess I thought it was lame, like aesthetically, and I didn’t like the music. Sounded like- that stuff all rubbed me the wrong way aesthetically, and then, yeah.

T: I didn’t like- I- yeah.

[Muddled everyone talking at once]

R: they, the urban spirits speaking that way made sense, the manticore speaking that way did not make sense. It was the same sort of effect on the manticore’s voice, did not work. I think the manticore needed to be more organic to contrast with the urban spirits get a contrast going on there.

T: Okay, yes. Okay.

[awkward silence]

TIM: the bedbugs were good.

[more silence]

T: alright, so… I- the show, okay, now I’m like lost in what I want to say, but…

[long silence]

T: So it was more like, that there was all this awesome stuff going on, but it didn’t come out in the best way possible. For the story. The story was kinda flawed. Not the story, not like the story line, but the- like the way it moved.

R: yeah. No, yeah, it-

T: the way it all got jumbled and then it just like, ended. It made sense where it ended, but it didn’t feel like the end of a show.

R: hmm hmm. The important thing about the play, thematically, whatever, is that last scene where everything is revealed and I, I don’t think- what builds up to that, I think more ah… the exposition leading to that scene coulda been smoother and more thorough, which woulda made that scene more elegant. The way that scene played was way too much explaining in the scene itself.

T: and re-explaining. Like, they didn’t- explain it correctly the first time. And then-

R: it woulda been nice to understand more of that before we got to that scene, then we could actually engage with the scene, instead of presenting us with, like the uh, the explanation of the technical, how things work, that you’ll turn into manticores, and then this and

T: yeah.

R: Blah blah blah.

T: I liked the show in this environment.

R: (after a thoughtful pause): yeah. I just, y’know, everything that happened I would’ve liked to have seen happen a little bigger. The ropes falling from the ceiling: more ropes. The paper falling: more paper. Like covered in paper. The 93 people or whatever: bigger or somehow more imposing. Y’know, everything could’ve.

T: I disagree, because I think- I don’t know. To me it was very like- I don’t know it was half like an adult and half like a child. Telling a story and I thought of kids using toys that they had. This is some paper, and like whoooo all these people and stuff. Like using what they had to represent and you have to use your imagination to make whatever that object was bigger. I thought it engaged my- the show couldn’t be as big as it- as it says it is, in this space and with any kind of budget. And I don’t think it set out to be like uh- blockbuster

R: I’m not saying it shoulda tried to be a blockbuster, but I feel like- I feel like-

T: I feel like that guy really wants this room straightened up.

R: they keep moving these tables. Like, they moved em here and then…

T: I know, it’s fucking freaking me out.

R: what is the correct alignment of these tables? I need to refer to my feng shui book.

[Rex mispronounces feng shui]

T: Feng shui

R: whatever. I think if they had a couple more stage hands and a couple more props and it-

T: More people helping, Ben.

R: hey, I offered.

T: Alright, wrap it up.

R: we haven’t talked about the themes, at all.

T: well, go ahead. What about the themes?

R: it was anti-capitalist without being constructively pro anything. It’s just about destruction and about like, being opposed to destruction.

T: it’s not opposed to destruction. It embraces-

R: yeah it is, you sympathize with the twins and they’re the ones trying to find a way to not have to destroy everything.

T: but you have to destroy. The whole theme was you have to have pain to- have joy, thing.

TIM: But I was-

R: that’s the grandparent’s position, and the twins are-

T: that’s what the mother’s position was too.

R: the mother’s position was to wipe it all out, the mother’s position is to go back to a primitive, pre-city she wants to destroy ever city in the world in order to defeat the evil urban spirits who are evil and we’d go back to this bucolic paradise sort of thing, and that- that is, uh… that’s backwards to me. I’m the kind of communist that wants to look forward. I’m the kinda guy who says capitalism is the best situation we’ve had so far, but we can do better. I’m positive, this is negative.

T: (disapproving frown)

R: philosophically positive, not- (long pause) yeah, it’s uh… I disagree.

T: With what?

R: with Kurt’s position. Statement whatever.

T: okay. I think I need to think more about it.

R: alright.

T: G to G?

R: final thoughts?

T: Jesus lives.

R: Jesus lives.

(Two months later)

REX: So, I've been thinking about this show, and even a couple days after seeing it I changed my opinion of it somewhat, about the thematic level of it. Cuz it's not that I disagree with Kurt's statement (i can't say that i know what Kurt's statement was, or if Kurt was making a statement) but, instead, it seems that Kurt was describing a few positions, an anti-technology, anti-modernity, anti-positivist sort of position, and an anti-humanist sort of position. I think he described these position very well, using his fairly tale setting, logic and characters, so I consider the play, thematically very successful (and sophisticated, but still pretty inelegant in that last scene). I have issues with these positions (the one advanced by the manticore, and the one advanced by the grandparents) because I think such positions may be anti-capitalist, but they are also anti-civilization (indeed they seem to be anti-everything) and they are regressive rather than progressive, they are the ultimate in conservatism and reactionary-ness, and they are rooted in bourgeois guilt. This new perspective on the play cleared up the hang-ups I was having about it thematically and expanded my appreciation. I wish i could see it again in this new light.

(I also wish we'd have got this review posted a bit sooner so it wouldn't be so after-the-fact)

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