Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thoughts from Thursday's meeting

Here's what's been running through my head:  Impossible things happen, and we cannot control them; the rest of the time, we do the best we can with what we have--words, gestures, objects, people.  So we have to be patient, with ourselves and with others, with time and with things.  

That's very general, and it may or may not be satisfying.  Let me know.  But I will explain a bit of the thinking behind it.  I realized, talking with Taibi, that I feel like this play is, in part, about patience, and about attempts and successes and failures to figure out how and what to do, and about trying different tools for transforming one's given circumstances, tools for communicating; and, I think, it's about how we interpret or fail to interpret each other's attempts, because these attempts can feel circuitous or mis-directed; that is, Fran does not write back--instead she dances.  Maybe this is all she can do, maybe not, but there is a reason why she doesn't write back, why she uses another medium, one that cannot travel in the same way--in an envelope, across borders, over water.  And we, I think, are meant to experience both the frustration of her silence but also to learn a kind of patience towards her.  We are not given a lot of information about Fran, and this is precisely the kind of test we are given about strangers every day--do we judge a person's silence, assuming what we don't know or can't discern? Or do we accept that people do the best they can with what they have?  Perhaps this play is about the complexity of silence and absence. Silence marks not emptiness, but overfull-ness.  Absence is a kind of presence.  And these are interesting places to start, but I am especially concerned with what they mean for the way we try and fail or succeed, however fleetingly, to understand each other, to bridge distance.   

One way I connect with this is--you all may also have had this same specific experience--writing letters that you don't send because they feel inadequate?  And then that means you don't send a letter at all, and you know that the silence that comes from the absence of the letter you didn't send is a FULL silence; the silence is a reflection of all that needs to be said, and the impossibility of saying it in a way that feels true and sufficient.  But you also know that on the other end (to the person to whom you have not written back) the silence may simply feel like silence; someone who couldn't be bothered to send a letter, or didn't have the time, or didn't have anything to say.  That is a horrible feeling, to think that someone does not or may not know or realize that you are thinking about them.  It's a horrible place to be in.   
It's what Joseph experiences in his inability to tell Fran how he feels. 
It's the problem of writing a poem.
It's trying to explain "blushing" or falling in love, because these are impossible to explain. 

But the play, to me, is also about the beauty of these attempts, the awkwardness and clunkiness of people trying to speak, to express and connect.  And it is the way the awkwardness and clunkiness becomes a kind of beauty, the moment we recognize that we are watching people do the best they can with what they have.
It's Marc's fascinatingly and beautifully clunky poem.
It's the human ingenuity and desire for beauty that is present in seemingly ordinary, daily acts, as when Enrique describes how they use the cans.          
It's Fran pinching Joseph's cheeks.
It's the angel that sits in your lap.
It's Jerry's letter to the city.
It's Gerardo's climb up to the roof.

And the play also shows us the moments when all our efforts overflow reason, and manifest in a magic kind of way, that seems to have little to do with what we've done.
The magic panel opens, the dances happen, the grey stockings arrive, the rose is dropped. We blush, the car moves one foot.  A man from one world appears in another.

So, we can discuss.

On a more practical note, I mentioned to Taibi and Flordelino that I am interested in the design elements being somewhat ambiguous as to time;  such that, if you looked at the set and costumes and someone told you the play was set in 1962, you'd find that reasonable, but also that if they told you it was set in the present, you'd also find that reasonable.  Which is to say, I imagine the design elements not really emphasizing temporal specificity, while also feeling like they are in a given time.  I also want to avoid anything visual overtly trying to signal "Cuba"  or "New York." 

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