Starting right now I am going to beginning documenting reviews of events, shows, movies, books, and so for that I come across in my artistic travels.
For this first review post (of which the reader must be absolutely aware that I am in no way a reviewer and see this more for me to place ideas and thoughts about this piece as the connect to the greater discussion of the culture of art, but anyway in some fashion this will represent a review) I will comment on a new work off Broadway titled The Overwhelming (no link because today was the last showing, they have already taken down the site) by J. T. Rogers and directed by Max Stafford-Clark. The play is currently running at Roundabout Theatre’s Laura Pels Theatre in midtown New York. But enough about its logistics on to why I liked it.
The only real reason I am choosing to bring it up is, well two reasons. First it played with the form of drama in a rather interesting way. First the characters were not afraid to interrupt each other and all talk at once, there were many dialogue sequences with multiple speakers, thus leaving the audience confused as to who to focus on. I am an audience member who likes to be confused. Second the final sequence of dialogue was interrupted by the speaker’s decision to focus his speech on the audience, not a new trick, but an extremely effective one. He was telling us that we’d forget about it, that we’d go back to our lives. The play itself is about Rwanda and the genocide that occurred; the events in the play coincide with the months leading up to the beginning of the genocide in 1994. There were some very powerful quotes to be taken from this play, among them were the ideas of peace, war, strangers, American involvement in foreign affairs, and so on. Questions that are prevalent today and that last act by the character to turn to the audience made that fact abundantly clear.
The second reason I bring this up is that it is a new work, using a political theme to present a message, a very traditional play in some sense but one that is of our time, and I am curious about that power it currently holds. It received a standing ovation, but did it receive it because of the true genius it portrayed or rather because of its significance for our current situation? What I am really getting it is were we not in a war, and were we not dealing with American involvement in the Middle East, involvement to the extant that it is greatly dividing our country, would this play still get a standing ovation?
Does that answer really matter?
(To be honest the first thought that comes to mind is the fact that this has strayed from being a review, but I like where this is going so forget my review idea for now, this has become an artistic discussion and will be filed under such, now back to the discussion.)
I am curious what people think in regards to the current importance or rather the current message a piece has. Does this work backwards? If an old piece that was considered bad art from yesteryear, today become extremely powerful and poignant, would we reconsider its artistic value?
Just some food for thought while we all prepare to feast on the holidays.