Thursday, January 22, 2009

Theater or Theater Class 210

Okay... we have season passes (we meaning Hubby and friends "the girls") to the Dallas Theater Center. The last two years of theater ther have been AMAZING and we signed up for another year (we thought) of wonderful theater. The DTC does serious drama, comedy, and musicals, so you get alot for your season pass. 6 shows + the Christmas Carol if you want to kill an evening in the holiday season.

So far, the season of theater under the direction of our new Director has been less than stellar. Some would say it is bathed in wrong sauce. Take "Tommy" for instance. Yes, the rock opera "Tommy" was done onstage as the season opener. Now, admittedly, we see the first show of the season which means the performances haven't jelled yet, but there would have to be a metric ton of Jell-o slapped on that trainwreck to make it jell into something watchable. We have a director experimenting with color-blind casting, which I applaud, but felt awkward in this show where a White mother and a Latin father created a Black child. Fine. I get it. Color-blind = searching for talent, not color THEN talent. Still, there was a scene in the play where Tommy is bound to a table by his White cousin who is tormenting him and torturing him that felt completely oogy to watch. Not to mention the clumsy sexual teasing of the 40-50ish acid queen on the still 10 year-old Tommy. Ew.

So, fast-forward to last night. When we received the list of shows for this season, the play was not listed because it hadn't been selected yet. We arrive to see that we are watching a play called "In the Beginning," a look at the first 10 chapters of Genesis, from creation to Noah and the Ark. We had hopes for drama and thoughtful conversation afterward. The play began and the actors all took the stage in street clothes and we get the first look at our new DTC acting troop (we had actors specifically hired for each show in the past, so this was a change). A couple of hotties, a couple of passable cuties, and the rest (Okay...I'm a gay man. We look at these things.). They explan the play to us as an examination of the book of Genesis and that the 2nd act would be an opportunity for the audience to participate in the discussion and creation of the 2nd act. Huh?!? Zoinks! We are PARTICIPATING in the play?!? How does that work? Sadly, we would find out.

We get the story of creation. Light. Earth. Sea. Man. Animals. Sky. Blah, blah, blah. So far so good. What is this? Man is naked onstage in a thong?!? Rock on! Hottie onstage with his buttcrack out. I'm awake and watching. Let's create woman. Man lies down. God plucks rib from side in weird dramatic gesture, then woman appears. Pasty white, naked woman onstage. Blahblahblah...moving on. Love. Discovery. Warning about the tree. Snake in odd bodysuit enters stage right. Apples plucked. Angry God. Shame. Really...kinda not a dramatic story. I mean, we know this version. The actors are reading it directly from the text. Getting bored.

Man and wife have baby. Awake now because the odd positioning on stage of Adam and Eve looks like while Eve is giving birth in a standing, yet hunched over position, it looks like Adam is giving Eve a Dirty Sanchez. Eve grunts through the pregnancy. Eve makes a loud noise in mid grunt that sounds like a loud fart. Then more grunting. Then Eve reaches under herself and pulls out a baby. Cain. Ew.

Now, by this time, not only are we kinda shocked at the staging and the level of acting involved, but we're really looking at this as an example of what NOT to do in theater. Okay, I may be a bit too strong in my dislike of the "acting." The actors really did what they could do with the text given since 1. they rarely spoke during the play, but rather acted out the scene to narration and 2. when actually speaking, they were speaking the words of the text. We had some wonderful singing throughout the play, so they handled all that well.

Next, we get the begatting. This one begat that one. That one begat the other one. Blahblahblahhhhhhhhhhh. Joke about the begatting that we all are thinking. Cut to story of Cain and Abel. Cain comes out in loincloth, tall and skinny except for beer gut. Abel comes out, young cute muscular with 6 pack. We know he's a goner, but not because God chose Abel over Cain, but because Cain was jealous of Abel's hotness and wanted his ass off the stage. Drawn out killing scene to Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt." Moving on.

Man is increasingly mean and angry and violent. God is irritated and decides to wipe out Man, except for a chosen family and a pair of animals who will repopulate the Earth. Noah introduced. Family introduced. God gives Noah schematic for Ark. Ark built. Rain. Floods. Death. Waters recede. End scene. Intermission.

Three of the 4 of us would have been happy to leave at this point, because as we were leaving, the cast informed us we would be taking part in a discussion with the minister about the themes of Act 1. Actorsayswhat? Are you kidding me?!? This is not my Theology class. You are supposed to be entertaining me, not trying to work out your character's motivations with the help of the audience.

We stay and we get asked 3 awkward questions while the minister of one of the local churches tries to put some perspective on the questions we had. Interesting, maybe. Done well? not so much. Why did God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden? Why did God choose Abel over Cain? What are we to make of God and his full-scale genocide of the species in the Noah story?

As a person redefining his religious views, I might have been interested more if the 2nd act was more a discussion between the minister and other men of faith (rabbis, for example). Let us ask questions. Work out the problems we had with the minister, who, BTW, believed the LITERAL truth of the text. God took a rib and made a woman out of thin air. Noah built an ark and gathered 2 of every species and put them there until the floods came. Snakes talked to women. (ed. note: I watched "Religulous" and have a husband who was practicing Judaism, so I immediately had issues with that.)

As with any clas you've ever been to, the question was asked, awkward silence followed until one soul couldn't stand the silence any longer and responded, then we moved on. Then we got into the many people who couldn't stay on topic and answered issues not even on the table. The few people who challanged the minister's take on the Bible or questions raised by the text were kinda blown off or ignored outright.

Thank the minister, thank the audience, conclude play with a song. Exit theater.

That, my friends, was a painful night of theater. I love a lively discussion of...well, anything, but that wasn't the time or place for it. The wrong questions were asked. The right questions weren't asked (So, if the Bible is literal, when did God create another woman for the sons to sleep with and marry? Or was Eve just a babymaking machine for her husband and sons? If so, were the other women sisters to Cain and Abel? etc. etc.) I don't mean to be blasphemous, but the play kinda asks you to do so, and not in any productive way.

1 comment:

Bjorn said...

yeah i heard it was bad from preview goers.

I like tommy. I thought the band and production were great. I can walk over there so it makes going easier.