Thursday, July 10, 2008

“I don’t want realism. I want magic.”

Every once in a while you get that flash of inspiration and remember what it is about the theater that you love.

I think its indefinable in some ways, but it usually happens when you are conscious of the fact that a large group of people got together in a darkened room to watch a story unfold about humanity. It's when a script really reaches for the heights of ambition, but remains truthful--as do the actors and director. As an audience, you laugh together, cry together, and when it's good enough give a standing ovation together.

Last night I saw A Streetcar Named Desire at the Intiman and needless to say, I had that moment. It was a wonderful performance and production. I don’t shower praise lightly (most people think of me as a misanthropic cynic) but Sheila Daniels did a fine job of letting these characters live out this touching, disturbing, and haunting story, finding moments of joy and comedy as well as moments of tragedy.

And when you have such a brilliant and well-crafted script—man, that Tennessee Williams was good!—then you can trust that work and dive in.

That’s what we’re trying to do as playwrights, I think. I mean, we should be, right? If we’re not trying to be as good as Williams then what’s the point? We shouldn’t waste people’s time. Otherwise, what’s to stop a theater from just doing another Williams play? Or Miller? Or Hellman? Or Pinter? Or Shepard…and on and on…

But it’s so nice to see be reminded of the power of good storytelling, especially when executed so well.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that they have some good live music on stage, too. Gotta love that.

It also doesn't hurt that the play is set in New Orleans, a city with millions of dramas unfolding every day.

I mean, Seattle is a good place, but different...Imagine, "A South Lake Union Trolly Named Desire"...Wait, doesn't that spell...?

(On a side note, one of the lighter moments of the show was when Stanley couldn’t find his bottle opener and opened a bottle of beer by slamming it down on a counter—to which, some guy in the audience loudly proclaimed—“Whoa!”. The audience laughed…Evidently that’s more impressive than screaming “Stella!” while soaking wet and crumbling in a heap of emotional jelly…)

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