This week's post is a reflection on seeing new plays. Enjoy! -Amber
I’m thinking about seeing In the Belly, a play by Insurgent Theatre, that deals with the issues around imprisonment and the prison system. It works as a fundraiser for RedBird Prison Abolition, and also supports the artists on their tour. It’s a play that I’ve never seen before, from a group that I’m not familiar with, about a topic I know very little about.
Here’s the deal: Even though I love new plays, I’ve been dragging my feet about coming to this one. I know it’s going to be sad and violent. The facebook invite literally tells me that. I know I’m going to want to think critically about it, respond to it, and maybe stay for the talk back (I’m always curious what other people will say but I don’t like to “talk back” myself).
I know Insurgent Theatre will probably do an awesome job, but with a piece like this, it may be easy to go in a whole lotta strange directions. Either it’s awesome, and we’ll go see the show and feel like shit afterwards due to the harsh images and ugly reality the work is bringing to light. Or it could be bad. It could be poorly put together, painstakingly long, and preachy. Then we’ll just feel horrible during and after.
But I have to keep myself in check. Don’t I like new plays? Yes. I love it. It gives the viewer the opportunity to think, reflect, talk, talk, talk, and come together in a space with live people. Breathing, thinking, reflecting! It’s so nice to have community rather than sit in front of my computer screen.
I remember an old newsletter I got from the Playwrights’ Center. It was a “guide” to seeing new plays. I remember one piece of advice that’s stuck with, and I’ll paraphrase it here:
“Leave your reservations at the door.” Like literally, reserve your tickets. But also quit being so judgey! Sometimes we love to hate what we're watching. "Get over it, and get over yourself." (Thanks, PWC).
So I’m going to make my own rules about seeing new plays.
1. Leave your judgement pants at the door
Okay, Amber. You don’t know the play is going to be bad. It might actually be really, really friggin’ awesome. So shut it.
2. Do it on the cheap
Do I really want to see theatre for $29-51? No. No, no no. Thanks Guthrie for doing three world-premieres next year, but goodness. $20 for the rush line? Get me a beer with that. Also, stop calling me and asking me for money.
3. Be brave
See something from a company you don’t know about. See a play you’ve never heard of. See something that you don’t normally see. You do theatre? Then watch a film. You’re a dancer? Go to a concert.
4. Bring a friend
No matter what. At least you’ll have someone that you like to talk about it with.
Okay, so I’m scared to see In the Belly. Yes. It’s true. But self: Don’t Worry. It’s donations-only (cheap), I’ve got a friend or two ready to go, and I’m just going to be brave.
There are two ways to see the play:
Wed Apr 18th
7PM at Sister's Camelot
2310 Snelling Avenue
Thu Apr 19th
7PM at The Exchange with Support CeCe!
3405 Chicago Ave