Friday, March 20, 2015

The Rest of the Story -- #5pinksandatux

I knew when I signed up to direct a play over a year ago that it would take significant time, be a huge sacrifice for the family, be a  Great Experience, and keep me from being able to sink into my introverted shell and rejuvenate by reading, writing and thinking.




The sad news is that the play is almost over.  The good news is I will soon have plenty of time to process this event in my life.  But I can't wait, I have to process some of it right now!





The play is Five Women Wearing the Same Dress,  a 1993 play by Alan Ball.  And they do!  Boy do they. 













I'll blog about the process tomorrow (or so), because its pretty fascinating, even for someone who has been very involved in theatre.  





But today, I want to share something about the play with you.  





PCT had two Pre-Show Receptions that were great fun, where I spent 5 minutes or less telling the audience something fascinating about the play to help add to their enjoyment and understanding of the play.  Since we don't have any more of those planned, I'll go ahead and share the information with you, in case you are planning to come.  (We've had great audiences, thank you Paris and beyond!).





But first, in case you are getting caught up in the seemingly innocent pink pink pink, remember what PCT has informed you, the public, in every advertisement and marketing venture.  This play has Adult Content, and is for Mature Audiences.  Parental Discretion is advised.  





The crowds are loving, loving, loving it, but even with those advisories we've had a handful of people who are still upset about the language in the play.  So while I'm telling you the rest of the story, I want to be honest with you about this, too. 





PCT, hopefully like every theatre, is dedicated to honoring the playwrite's play.  And to following copyright laws. That means we don't make material changes to the work.  That, to me, is far more reprehensible than having cussing on stage, especially for purposes other than just slapstick.  As Bridesmaid Georgeanne so clearly reminds us, we all have our standards.  One of my standards is being dedicated to sharing women's stories.  And I am so proud of PCT for sharing this story about women!  We are a fascinating, difficult, fun, irritating, silly bunch.  We women have unique experiences just because we are women.  We should talk about them.  We must continue to do plays that expose them.  





Five Women is about bridesmaids, and one groomsman, at a wedding.  As we know, weddings can be stressful events!  In the words of Tripp and Trisha, they all start out fine, then things get weird and high expectations culminate into the halucinatory.  (Been there!)





So the bridesmaids escape to Meredith's upstairs bedroom.  They are not at their best!  They are funny, they are acting out, they are letting loose in a safe place.  They are acting like adults act.





Ok, to be specific, they cuss.  Among other things, the "F" word is said around 17 times to be exact (but who is counting).  To put things in perspective, American Sniper - with crowds and crowds, used that explicative over 170 times.  




So there it is.  When we did Vagina Monologues  we had a saying -- if you can't say Vagina, you can't come.  The Board didn't want to put the name of the play on the marquee, so we refused to do the play without it.  Not all plays are for everyone.  If you can't stand the word Vagina, don't go see Vagina Monologues.  





I'm going to jump out there on a limb and say that if you can't stand the thought of cuss words on PCT stage, don't come to this play.  It's ok.   You won't be missing out on anything you want to see. Whatever you do, please, please, don't come and just see Act I.  Act I is always fun and enjoyable, hilarious even, but it is just the set up.  If you just come see Act I, you have missed the heart of the story.  You might feel that you have drunk the wine of  crassness and that is all that it will ever be to you.  That breaks my heart because it was made to be so much more.  It's like looking through a glass darkly. 





Irrefutably - there are plenty of people who want to see plays like what Vagina Monologues, Avenue Q, and Five Women Wearing the Same Dress have to offer. The Board that I proudly belong to is committed to serving the entire community.  These plays all have hearts to them, Big Picture points to them.  They are all award winning plays that the nation has embraced.  They serve a point for our community. I keep thinking that if only more mothers and fathers would see this play, maybe it would save my husband's office from doing some of the most difficult work that they do.  Such a play for women.  So amazing how the playwrite explains this situation that happens to too many women.  If you know anything about me, you know that I am dedicated to standing up for women, for helping them find their voice, for helping them find justice, for standing behind my husband's efforts for that, for helping them find peace, even if it is just through the laughter of a play that also happens to feature women that cuss.  (It's real, it happens, it wounds! Let's be honest! Could I pour my heart out to you any more?)





Now, there are also people in this community who do not want to see plays like Five Women. That is their right, we all have the right to choose. 





But it does create conflict between community theatre season ticket holders and attendees, actors, directors, and thespians.  It's an issue that we have to address. I must believe that for every problem, there is an answer.  





PCT has been searching for the answer for a long time.  





Last season, after the unbelievable but absolutely believable success of Vagina Monologues, the Board came up with the only solution that we have seen in other theatres -- the ability to pick your season.  Pick 4, pick 6, pick all.  Instead of five season shows PCT gave season ticket holders six shows.  As is typical to any season there are two family shows -- Alice, and now Damn Yankees (hurrah for baseball!!!!),  instead of one there were two musicals  (Avenue Q and Damn Yankees), a drama and a half (JB -- about Job, as in the Biblical Job set to a modern day parable from the 1950s, and the first play of White Liars / Black Comedy), and two comedies (Five Women, and White Liars/Black Comedy - had to stay for the second play for that gut buster),  Also, PCT has /is producing TWO extra plays this year in case  you don't want to see adult language / situations.  Rabbit Hole, the wonderful difficult play about a family dealing with the grief of a child (We loved it so much we took it to contest)  and Waiting for the Parade, about Women in WWII coming in April.   





PCT did that for those persons who didn't want the other two plays.  Sadly, too many of you missed Rabbit Hole.  I hope you won't miss Waiting for the Parade.  And do not worry!  Just because PCT has done several plays with adult content this year, this doesn't mean the theatre is only doing adult content shows.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Besides the two family plays, we also produce over 20 viewings of the children's production, which is definitely family oriented, and two great choir shows, one dedicated to Christmas music both religious and secular, and the other dedicated to show tunes.  





It's just that this show is one of the adult ones.   My preacher has told me he is coming to this play.  I've forewarned him about the language and I know he can deal with it.  That's just him - he's very into trying to figure out how to take the message to the masses, so this play will be a study in behavioral science for him.  I can't wait to hear what this play inspires him to preach.  But, again, that is just him.  That's why we get along, because we both are irritatingly deep thinkers.  We aren't afraid of ideas, even if they have cuss words.  But if it isn't for you, don't come!  It is ok!  





For the rest of you, who will come and love it, like yours truly, here is the rest of the story. 





A wise man once said there is nothing new under the sun.  Literature majors like me love this.  Every good book has a beginning somewhere!  The same is true of this play.  It's a good play because it has layers.





The first layer is the fun, zany, craziness of the Bridesmaids.  It's not to the level of slapstick, but its just pretty dang funny.  (Alan Ball could be accused of snooping on every female conversation of the 90s and throwing it into the kitchen sink with this being the side splitting result!).





The second layer is delivered in Act II.  And I am definitely not telling you about that, you just must come see it.  If you know anything about me, Tim Wood, Sherry Scott, Melanie Fowler and Jill Drake, you know we are advocates for women (congrats Kacy Mills and Tori Hunt, you are now officially advocates, too!).  There's a real heart to it. 





The third layer is the language issue. There is an argument going on with the creatives as to whether the cuss words are there for a reason, or if this is a true rendering of what Bridesmaids are like (except in the Bible Belt, of course).  I tend to think its both.  But, knowing the play backwards and forwards and sideways, I believe the F word is there for a reason.  I think we are assaulted with the F word.  Come to the WHOLE play, and see if you agree with me.  There isn't a correct answer, you get to decide.





Finally, the fourth layer is the absolute coolest.  Last night at the last preshow reception, one of the attendees had seen the play more than once and was going again.  But she hadn't heard about this, and when I started telling it, she burst out laughing.  It makes so much sense!  So here it is:  





This play has at its center a long lived theological premise, that being the Cardinal Sins.   Yes, the Bridesmaids, each and every one, represents a Cardinal Sin.  Not only that, since this is a comedy, it is quite along the Divine Comedy lines that they are each stuck in their sin.  (Thank you Dante for continuing to edify us!).  In other words, don't expect their problems to be solved as they entertain you.





Just in case you don't have them memorized, here you go:





One Bridsmaid Covets.  Covets Covets Covets.  Things, men, a dead woman's husband, etc. etc.


Another is full of Wrath.  She's fun and funny, but boy can that anger just flip the switch.  Luckily, we get to find out why in Act II.  


One Bridesmaid Lusts.  She is so full of lust that she holds love at bay.  The quintessential (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction!  We have hope for her by the end is all I'm saying.


Sloth is all over one of the Bridesmaids.  So much so that she lovessss garbage, and I do mean loves it.


Finally, the last Bridesmaid is an out and out Glutton.  She's so gluttonous that all she can think about is throwing up.





Now that is only 5 of the deadly sins, the venial sins to be exact (the minor sins).  The last two -- the two that are actually the mortal sins are Pride and Envy.  Those show up in the play, too, so I'll just let you stew on that and decide how yourself.





So there it is.  Now that you are edified, and now that you ought to know for certain if this is your cup of tea or not, I look SO forward to seeing you for the WHOLE play tonight, Saturday or Sunday!  



2 comments:

A.E. Slade said...

… What is this blog about? I've been following your progress since becoming President of the PCT Board, and while I applaud the movement towards actual theatre, in place of entertainment, I still can't help but feel that you're serving more as a Public Service Announcer, instead of community artist, and leader. I cannot sit ideally by anymore and watch putter around, you have too much potential, and could use some guidance. This blog is horribly repetitive, we get it, people in a conservative small town don't appreciate cussing, and you don't hate anybody. Put that in the show bill and move on. Also, is that really the big ticket issue that this playwright is trying to make? I study a great deal of plays, playwrights, and theatre history, I know this play, and from my standpoint, "Fuck" doesn't have a thing to do with the actual story and message. You also seem to be apologizing too much, as well defending your production to the point where it seems that if the audience isn't already with you, they may as well not come. That's not the point of theatre, let the play speak for itself. You're too careful, too political. Theatre is supposed to be a collaboration of artists working towards challenging the thoughts and beliefs of a culture, and perhaps reforming old standards that are now irrelevant. You work too much to give us a character synopsis, instead of detailing your position and decision making as a director. I've yet to find a place in this entry where you actually discuss a women's issue, except for where you say that there are some. Are you going to discuss, openly, sexual abuse? Sexuality? Whether or not gender can be marked by habitual standards? The public doesn't need self praise, we need insight. What does this play do for us? I'm sure there is some interest within the administration about dealing with public backlash, and perhaps gambling with funding, but don't come to us as an artist who's trying not to step on anyone's toes, that Disney, that's not art, that's entertainment, the likes of which an artist's community should have no interest in. We need aggression, not a weekend of "How about that". Sadly, I will not be able to make it to this production, mainly because pink on pink will give me a headache and I will lose focus. Next time, make sure the costume designer and set designer do not use the same colors, it's tacky and hard to look at. They need to pick themes that compliment, not match, identically. Thank you, and good luck.

Sydney Young said...

You do make some good points, I don't agree with everything but good food for thought. I do appreciate you taking the time. But I do wish you'd come tomorrow. The pink is absolutely divine! And you really have to hear the play, see the performance for some of this to resonate. I love how much the audience is loving it. More later.