Jene Youtt and I zippped back into the city after a photoshoot in Princeton Saturday with plenty of time to catch Gina Bonati’s 2 short screenplays at the 14th Y’s LABA festival. (It was being videotaped so I hope it makes its way onto uTube)
The first production – Window Couple reminded both Jene and I of a Jessica Tandy’s soliloquy akin to the movie Batteries Not Included. The visual projection was distracting and later Jene voiced his take on it to Gina and I explained that although I agreed with Jene, I thought it was intended “mental noise” as thought the character was on the verge of mentally losing it – did the sweet old couple actually come in through the window OR was it all in her mind. The methodically placing coins on the arms of the chair after collecting them, dropping and throwing them across the stage seemed a bit OCD to me. Gina acknowledged Jene’s opinion and agreed that her intent in writing was more towards his interuptation and we thought that it was the director’s spin on what she saw the production to be. She also understand my take on it. I do wish there was an informal Q&A with the cast and director as was in “I have a little voice” performance from last year. It’s very interesting to see how others perceive one’s work. Reminding me of how I never really read the same things into poetry as my fellow classmates did. Oh well, we all walk to a different beat.
The second piece Cantaloupe was also interesting and we both like the interaction of the 2 main characters and the focus on the melon and it’s destruction by their very curious hands as to what would happen it it was cut and who was to strike the first near lethal blow to it. They had power over it’s demise, which turned to a saddness and then almost a cold brutality in realizing what they had done. The surprise came when a child became almost ghost like in appearance behind the screen playing the part of the “dead”. I’m not sure if I totally get the reason behind her forthcoming onto the stage other than to show that the 2 women were sure that they had killed it.
I was a little disappointed in that when the second play ended and the players took a brief bow, exiting the stage, we all stayed in our seats not knowing if they were coming back out. Was there a meet and greet, should we leave, it was a long time before they came out to thank their friends for coming and then someone announced that there would be some refreshments outside and we were to clear the area so that they could ready the set for tomorrow’s performance. We exited, not knowing whether the performers would partake in the wine and chips reception. In most of the small performances we have attended in this type of venue, the highlight has always been chatting with the performers/directors afterward. Maybe next time but we were lucky because Jene did catch Gina’s eye when she was thanking other friends for coming. Otherwise we may not have been able to talk to her afterward.
The play ended abruptly, leaving us to sit quietly and ponder. Again I would have like to hear what the other viewers thought and to hear what the playwright and director felt and what they were hoping came across. But with art, it is left up to the individual to take what they want from it, to enjoy being a part of the story that they weave in their minds when the storyteller starts the ball rolling.
I am reminded of one of my favorite parts of the movie, “Out of Africa” when Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), Denys Finch-Haton (Robert Redford) and Berkeley Cole (Michael Kitchen) are sitting after dinner and Karen starts telling a story, with each in turn adding the next few lines, changing the story line as they go. It is thoroughly enjoyable even though it no longer has followed the storyline path that Karen had intended. To me that is what art is all about. A story that is started and left for each individual viewer to finish as they see fit, based upon the “things” inside them that are touched. That’s the connection – that’s the beauty of it all.
I’ll be sure to see what Jene has to say about it on his blog Fuzzypictures, although I do know he has a photoshoot planned for tomorrow and has a very busy week ahead of him.