Thursday, April 4, 2013

it will confuse the audience


"You hit your mark, you look the other guy in the eye, and you tell the truth."

--James Cagney, on how to act


There's an exercise in theatre called Viewpoints, which I once tried to explain to a priest, with rather botched results.
Essentially, Viewpoints is the art of letting go of control, and simply responding to the world around you.
You begin Viewpoints by putting your hands over your heart, reminding yourself to work with an open heart. 
I'd argue that that may be the only way to live.

~

Ever since I was a young girl, one of the staples of our front living room coffee table book collection was a large, glossy picture biography. From simple, grainy, black-and-white pictures of the young Karol Wojtyla as a boy growing up in Wadowice, to splendid color panoramas of the new pope in white vestments, parting the surrounding waves of the red sea of cardinals that surged around him, the book detailed the life of Pope John Paul II.
Within this book were photos and short little poetic pieces of text about losing his mother, working as a theatre artist, living in Poland, secretly defying Nazi occupation, entering into the seminary on the sly. The high romance of Karol Wojtyla’s youth struck a chord in my seven-year-old heart.
This man captured my imagination.

 People who can't pay attention should not go to the theatre…their imagination will be challenged and trained…a play should make you understand something new. If it tells you what you already know, you leave it as ignorant as you went in
--Our Country's Good

I grew up spinning stories in my head. I've never known what boredom was, because there are always words and daydreams and stories floating in the air.
This particular pope he had a whole section of this particular biography devoted to his work in the theatre.
He’d written a play that theatre companies around the world were still performing, he even had his own particular style of theatre, which sounded like a magic spell: "Rhapsodic".
Growing up with Pope John Paul II on my coffee table, I never knew that there was a divide between the theatre world and the theology world.
They both seemed to me to be the art of saving your soul by telling stories.
Both seem to have at their center the pursuit of poetry, of understanding the secrets at the heart of the world and painting pictures of them.
Both, by introducing you to the lives of others, teach you how to live.
Or perhaps, show you what life can be.
That the world is a bit more glorious and grand than we give it credit for being.
That we can be glorious and grand, if we only dare to be.


The convicts will be speaking a refined, literate language and expressing sentiments of a delicacy they are not used to. It will remind them that there is more to life than crime, punishment. And we, this colony of a few hundred will be watching together, for a few hours, we will no longer be despised prisoners and hated gaolers. 
We will laugh, we may be moved, we may even think a little.
--Our Country's Good


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